“Not forgiving someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.”
“I don’t know what happened between you both but you NEED to forgive them!”
“You’ll feel so much better if ONLY you can find forgiveness in your heart.”
“Don’t you WANT to forgive and forget? It will make you the bigger person.”
These statements should be familiar to most of us. Maybe you received these comments or maybe you were the one saying them.
The dreaded F – Word: FORGIVENESS
This is considered as the answer to most, if not all our problems. The path leading to enlightenment. The one act that will make us the bigger and the better person in any given situation. Yes, others will disappoint and do us wrong. But, apparently, it’s our power to forgive that acts as a test of our worth as moral human beings. And if we don’t, we are doomed to devolve in bitterness and internal turmoil and never secure peace.
We tend to forgive those who wrong us for many reasons including wanting to keep them in our lives to some significant shared history which trumps whatever crossroad you are at now. But let’s face it – there are instances in which forgiveness is totally off the table and it is up to you to decide when that is.
That’s where the societal pressure to forgive comes in, along with assertions that “it’s the only way to fully move on”. Also called ‘Forgiveness Shaming and Blaming’, it is the expectation of others to ignore your experience and feelings and act in a way that is more preferable to them – Basically, forgive even though you do not feel ready or want to.
While I am in no way devaluing the power of forgiveness and the beautiful process of healing. What’s troubling is asking/ insisting the victim forgive before they are ready to do so. The process of forgiving someone requires deep introspection and some level of grieving. And there isn’t a one size fits all method or timeframe to achieve this. Each one should be able to take as long as they want. Some may never reach a point of being ready or wanting to forgive the person who hurt them. And that is okay, too.
You don’t owe anyone forgiveness; it needs to be earned. So, when do/should we forgive someone? The short answer is: when you want to. It’s entirely OK to not forgive someone if you are not ready to. It is, however, important to reflect on why you might find it hard to forgive and the feelings behind the emotion but don’t dwell on these for too long. As long as you are able to let go of the bitterness and anger and not hold a grudge, it should all be okay.
You don’t need to forgive to achieve the peace of mind and clarity that everyone says only forgiveness will give you!
You don’t have to forgive to move on!
And you definitely don’t need to forgive to gain your power back!