8th May 2019
soul survival guide
mental wellbeing champion
why we don't have to forgive to forget
Forgiveness is a major theme in the spiritual world. It’s often seen as a way of allowing us to let go of past pains. If we hang on to them, we hurt ourselves the most. Forgiveness replaces hurt with healing.
But it isn’t always that straightforward. Trying to be the better person can put us under unnecessary emotional pressure. We hear stories of parents forgiving their child’s murderer or torture victims making peace with their captors. If they can do it, why can’t we? We might feel we’re uncaring, even bad people.
We could deny ourselves the expression of natural feelings, like anger and disappointment. We may also avoid challenging unacceptable behaviour. Take a person who is being abused by a partner. If the abuser hears they are forgiven without having to change the way they behave, it’s a green light to continue.
There are other ways of letting go of hurt. Forgiveness isn’t always necessary and may slow recovery down, especially if the wrongdoer doesn’t show any remorse. In practice, forgiveness works best as a two-way street, a dialogue in which both parties work towards resolution. This usually takes time and a willingness to have difficult conversations.
It’s more honest – and self-compassionate – to acknowledge that while we would like to forgive, sometimes we can’t. As the saying goes, To err is human, to forgive divine. We’re not divine.