The future often brings us back face to face with people from the past. That’s why it can be a good thing to have a bad memory, in order to prevent things that happened in the past from coloring the future.
Today I remembered a very dear friend who once advised me that it is a good idea to have a bad memory. I was very angry and upset at the time about something someone had done to me and felt I would never forget it as long as I lived. Fortunately I can’t even remember what it was all about now, so I am unable to tell you what it was , but I do remember the emotions I felt – sadness, fury, anger, loneliness. In other words there was nothing positive about it.
Back then, his advice sounded good but did nothing to ease my anxiety. But with time, I have come to realize that it really was great advice. If we keep licking our wounds over and over, we only make them deeper and don’t let them heal. This leads to obsession, and to feeling the same pain again and again. What’s more, in our professional lives, we often find ourselves face to face with people who form part of our past, and the future puts us in a place that makes us consider what we once were.
If we have had a bad experience with someone, and suddenly they are back in our professional lives, we will label them and judge them if we look back at the previous relation, for better or for worse, and that means that the new relation we have with them could be tainted.
I know it’s very hard to forget a wrong, which sometimes was so bad that it seems that forgetting it seems unthinkable, but my advice as a coach is that we have to look at the bigger picture and understand why they acted as they did, what made them act like that. This has a lot to do with empathy.
But if you don’t find any kind of explanation when you put yourself in their shoes, try to give them another opportunity. In short, that is what we would like others to do for us when we mess up.
And if you still find that you can’t forget, look at the wrong exactly for what it was, put it in perspective. Sometimes I say to myself: “If only all problems were as possible to solve.”
And if nothing serves to calm the pain, learn to forgive in order to throw off the chains. Resentment only serves as a prison.
Victoria Gimeno. Director International Relations. IE Business School, ie.edu