Here’s a challenge for you. Try to be especially nice to someone you don’t particularly like or someone who doesn’t particularly like you. Why? Well for one thing, harbouring resentment or discord is a major stumbling block to your personal development. The fact is, when you are holding grudges you are actually holding yourself back. Put succinctly, forgiveness is a release. Besides which, true forgiveness and humility are both edifying and enlightening.
It’s obviously very difficult to dislike someone who is being nice to you. So, go out of your way to be nice to the person you have a disliking for (or dislikes you) and make them like you.
Let me give you an example. Imagine you are walking down a quiet street and on the other side of the road you notice the school bully from years ago. In the intervening years this man has become a nasty, violent criminal, the worst of the worst. He is known as having no respect for anyone or anything and he is feared and despised by all your neighbours and especially by yourself. You quicken your step and put your head down to try and avoid him but Mr Lowlife has spotted you. He scowls then crosses the road and stops to speak to you. As you nervously stand there, Mr. Lowlife’s scowl turns into a strained smile and then, rather awkwardly, he says, “You know, as funny as it may seem after all these years, I really respect and admire you. I know that I’m a ‘Lowlife’ and I’ve done some horrible things in my time, but if I could turn the clocks back and have my time over again, I’d want to turn out just like you. You know what you’re a really nice guy!” With that Mr. Lowlife hesitates for only a second then he humbly smiles, turns and walks off in the other direction leaving you completely dumbfounded!
Now, how would you feel about your former school bully and the present day Mr Lowlife? Well, he’s not all that bad is he? There must be streak or two of goodness in him. And deep down, I’ll bet he’s really got a heart of gold. It’s just that he’s had a tough upbringing, he’s had a rough time and been through a lot and it’s difficult for him to show his true self! And the very next time one of your neighbours has something derogative to say about Mr. Lowlife, how are you going to react? I think it’s a pretty fair assumption to say that you will fight his corner; you will stick up for him and defend him. Why? Because Mr. Lowlife likes you; he as much as told you so. And it’s very difficult to dislike someone who likes you.
So then, if you are holding any grudges, if you dislike someone or their behaviour towards you – then make the first move, say something to make amends and, as the saying goes, “don’t delay do it today”. Edwin Louis Cole wrote, “There are times when silence is golden, other times it is just plain yellow.” Don’t be yellow! Make the first move. Be courageous. Be bold. You can never be sure of what the other person’s response will be but if the forgiveness is not mutual, let it be their problem, not yours. Life is too short to hold grudges, so deal with yours straight away and remember one last thing; no one ever choked swallowing their pride!
– R. Ian Seymour
R. Ian Seymour, excerpt from Maximize Your Potential