4 Things That Cinderella Taught Me About Forgiveness
One of the most powerful ways to improve your life is to forgive. That sounds easy, the work of a moment. If you've come up against forgiveness in the past, though, you'll realize what a challenge it is. It's all too easy to feel like holding onto a grudge gives you some sort of power. It fuels you on to overcome the person who wronged you. But the true power comes from forgiveness.
I'm going to illustrate this for you with a story we all know and love: Cinderella.
I'm thinking of two Cinderella retellings. The Disney live-action Cinderella and the Drew Barrymore film Ever After. You can find the same motif in many other versions of the story, of course. These two versions happen to focus on the idea of forgiveness.
You know how the story goes. For years, Cinderella's stepmother and stepsisters mistreat her. They exploit her hard work and deprive her of love and care. They ridicule her, treating her like an unpaid servant, but she never gives in to hatred. The well-timed appearance of a fairy godmother rewards Cinderella for her hard work. She captures the heart of a prince, and becomes a princess. The stepmother who treated Cinderella so miserably has no power over her any more.
In both of the films I mentioned above, something very interesting happens next.
Cinderella chooses to forgive her stepmother and stepsisters.
In Cinderella, Ella says "I forgive you," walking out of her stepmother's house and life forever. At the end of Ever After, an even more dramatic scene takes place. Danielle (Cinderella) intervenes to save her stepmother and stepsister from punishment.
In both cases, Cinderella could easily have used her power to take revenge. But she doesn't, and neither should you. Why?
1- Forgiveness Is Power
If you can afford to forgive someone, that means that they no longer have any authority over you. Their mistreatment of you is in the past, and you are moving on to better things.
2- Grudges Take Up Too Much Mental Energy
Do you want to become a better person? Then you cannot afford to spend time and energy on anger or resentment. Forgive and let it go.
3- Forgiveness Is Brave
When you offer forgiveness, you risk rejection - but it doesn't matter. You have forgiven, no matter what anyone else thinks of you. Offering forgiveness is a powerful reminder that you can overcome your fear.
4- Kindness Is Always Rewarded
The person you have forgiven may never reward you. But others might notice and change their opinion of you for the better. At the very least, you will enjoy increased confidence and happiness.
Looking at this list, forgiveness might be the underlying message of Cinderella's story. After all, doesn't her mother tell her to "Have courage, and be kind"?
How better to live that message than to forgive?
What could be braver than abandoning your chance at revenge?
And what could be kinder than loving those who treated you with hate?