Are second chances worth it?
I love second chances, and I’m not just talking about the usual romantic comedy kind. I mean real-life second chances. The moments when we decide that someone deserves a second chance after they’ve made a mistake, or maybe even multiple mistakes. Not everyone agrees with me on this point: people can be pretty rabid about their grudges. They hold on tight to their anger for years (or decades!) even if it doesn’t benefit them in any way. But as someone who has been on every side of that coin. Let me tell you what I’ve learned about deciding whether someone should get another shot at something or not…
People can change
People can change. It’s a cliche, but it’s true. People can grow and learn, they can be better than they were before. They might even surprise themselves with how much they’ve changed over time. Sometimes people change because of an event in their lives, like death or getting married. Other times it seems that someone was just born different from who they were before.
In any case, if you’re looking for a reason to give someone another chance at being good in your life. Then here are some things that might help convince yourself:
- People deserve second chances because sometimes we really screw up by being ourselves (and sometimes by being other people). We get caught up in our own bullshit and make mistakes that hurt others—intentionally or not—and sometimes those mistakes aren’t easy to reverse without some serious effort on both sides of the fence (pun intended). But if someone takes responsibility for their actions enough to want make amends then maybe they’re worth keeping around so long as there aren’t too many repeat offenses happening every week 🙂 And once again…
Let go of the past
If you’re reading this, chances are that you’ve had something happen to you in the past. Something bad. Maybe it was a breakup, or maybe someone said something mean to you at work. Whatever it was, your first reaction may be to think about how much this has affected your life.
This is natural. But we need to put the past behind us and move forward with our lives—and here’s why:
- The past doesn’t predict what will happen in the future any more than knowing how hard I slept last night can tell me my alarm will go off tomorrow morning (or if I’ll even be able to sleep tonight).
- If I’m worried about whether my ex-boyfriend likes me now that he’s dating someone else or if everyone at work will notice me wearing these same jeans two days in a row, then these thoughts take up space in my brain that would otherwise be occupied by more productive things like making friends or doing good work.
Be realistic about what to expect
Be realistic about what to expect. You can’t change someone who doesn’t want to be changed. This is a good rule of thumb for all relationships and not just romantic ones. Don’t expect too much too soon, or else you’ll end up disappointed when the person you’re trying to help fails at their own transformation (or even worse, they succeed in becoming something you don’t like).
People are flawed creatures: They make mistakes, fail upward sometimes and fail downward other times, and sometimes do one thing one day and another thing another day. That’s just life! And it’s worth living even though everybody makes mistakes and nobody will ever live up to your expectations 100% of the time—that would be exhausting! So don’t get hung up on the fact that someone didn’t turn out exactly how you thought he would; instead, focus on the positive things he does in his life instead of dwelling on what he hasn’t done yet but might someday do if given enough time (and love).
Make sure you are not being manipulated
Manipulation is a common problem in relationships and especially in the workplace. It’s important to be aware of manipulation tactics, both your own and others.
- Don’t let someone else’s emotions control your decision. You should not feel bad about not doing something just because someone else is upset about it or feels bad about it themselves. You must also be careful that this does not become an excuse for selfishness: “I don’t have time for this!” or “We’re over budget already!”
- Don’t let someone else’s emotions control your behavior: It can be very easy to give into anger or other negative emotions when someone manipulates you with their words or actions, but this makes things worse instead of better. If possible, remove yourself from the situation before reacting–maybe by going for a walk around the block–and then proceed with calmness rather than anger (it will also help if you don’t allow yourself to get angry in the first place).
- Don’t let someone else’s emotions control your relationships: We all know people who are constantly trying to manipulate us into feeling sorry for them–and when they succeed at making us feel bad enough about them (or guilty enough), we end up giving them what they wanted all along! But if we stay vigilant against such manipulation tactics, we’ll find ourselves able to maintain healthier relationships overall while still respecting ourselves enough not give into other people’s manipulative ways without question.
Have clear boundaries
- Define boundaries in advance.
- Make sure they are clear to everyone involved.
- Make sure they’re fair to both parties involved.
- Make sure they are enforceable by the person or people who set them up in the first place, and that all parties accept this fact with good grace (or at least some semblance of it).
- Be consistent and stick to those rules: If you say something once, say it again when necessary; if you make a decision today, don’t renege on that decision tomorrow just because something else pops up on your radar screen—either change your mind about enforcing your boundary or keep enforcing it as planned! When life throws us curveballs—and trust me, life will throw tons of them at us—we need our boundaries more than ever; otherwise, we risk being swept away by these unexpected events instead of standing firm against them with our feet planted firmly on solid ground beneath us.”
Check-in with yourself
To answer the question of whether people deserve second chances, you first need to check in with yourself. What are your emotions? What are your motives? Your expectations? Are these things realistic, or do they perhaps belong only in a fairy tale starring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts?
- Check-in with yourself: Be honest with yourself about how you feel and why you feel that way. You may find that when it comes to second chances, there’s more at play than just what happened yesterday or last week. If someone is asking for a second chance, then it’s important to ask if they’re willing to work hard on themselves—and if they’ve been working hard all along, but were never given credit for their efforts.
It’s up to you whether someone you love deserves a second chance.
It’s up to you whether someone you love deserves a second chance.
Maybe they’re your best friend, maybe they’re your partner, and maybe they’re a family member. If it’s none of these things but you want to give them one anyway, then go ahead!
But if not giving someone a second chance is keeping them from being happy—and it can be. Then who are we to judge? We don’t know what their life is like outside of this moment when we meet them and make our decision about whether or not to give them another shot at happiness.
In the end, it’s up to you whether someone you love deserves a second chance. But if you are going to give them one, make sure you do it for the right reasons.