I’ve been going through some things recently and, for a really long time, I’ve felt a whole lot more than I’ve been able to say. When you don’t deal with a trauma and you push it down to focus your energy elsewhere, it can only work for so long. Recently, and thanks to a very triggering programme, I’ve had to come face to face with everything and was in an emotional daze for two weeks but then something changed.
Someone said to me: ‘sometimes we regret a lot from a naive age and you could really be a big person to forgive’. (Should the person who sent this message to me see this, I’m sorry but I had to).
Forgiveness is not noble
Society has this strange opinion that forgiveness is necessary to move on with your life and that forgiving someone is to be the bigger person in a situation, as if to not forgive makes you just as bad as them. It’s not the first time that mental health has been undermined by stupid people and quotes taken out of context but this whole idea that its noble to forgive someone even when they’re not sorry is absolutely devastating. The phrases ‘be the bigger person’ and ‘forgive’ come from people who are just at a loss for what else to tell you to do. And I completely understand when a situation is hopeless but forgiving someone because there’s nothing else to do isn’t right. And, further, forgiving people who are not, in any way, sorry, is not noble. If they don’t express feeling anything over it then forgiving them doesn’t make you noble, it makes you at a loss.
Forgiveness is not necessary
Notice that it is only people and not counsellors that tell you that forgiveness is the only way to let go and be happy. Translation: they don’t know what they’re talking about. You do not have to forgive someone who isn’t sorry just because you think that there’s no other way to be happy. Likewise, don’t expect to just have to say ‘It’s okay, I forgive them,’ and then suddenly feel ten kilos lighter and miraculously no longer feel the hurt. It doesn’t work that way. There is no ‘off’ switch. There isn’t anything but you and sometimes facing your feelings is actually a better remedy than avoiding them, claiming that ‘forgiveness’ is the equivalent to letting it all go. It isn’t. Forgiveness is not necessary to regain your mental health.
Not forgiving shows self-respect
If you lived your life forgiving everyone who ever hurt you, you’d show very little self-respect. As a human being, there are certain rights that you are entitled to and being treated fairly is definitely one of them. If somebody hurts you or crosses a boundary, you are allowed to feel a number of things: disappointment, betrayal, shame, anger, anything. If somebody hurt you and you felt nothing then you’re already past it and you need to reverse and get help. If somebody hurt you and you let them then you need to realise that you’re worth something, innately, and self-respect is a good thing and feelings are a human thing.
If you never forgive, it’s okay, but don’t sweat the small stuff
Obviously, it would be pretty silly to never forgive anyone for anything. Give your forgiveness for stupid mistakes and for the people who love you and care about you. There is a difference between someone that hurts you intentionally because they meant spite and someone who hurt you accidentally whose intention was good. One is worth forgiving and one isn’t and I’m sure you can work out which is which. Also, I’d like to remind you that, while not forgiving someone is entirely your call and definitely sometimes okay, you still have to face the feelings and find a way for yourself to mentally get over a situation. Put your happiness first, and make sure that it is happiness motivating your decision and not pride.
(Okay, exhale… and if you’ve ever met a genuine sociopath who did spiteful things and felt no remorse then, I feel you, and forgiveness is not your responsibility and realising that might help!)