“Forgive and forget.”
“You need to forgive them so you can move forward.”
We’ve all heard these tropes dressed as unimpeachable morals that suggest you MUST forgive in order to move forward. It’s appealing, almost mesmerizing, to eliminate a grudge, not allowing an unpleasent event to get under your skin, narry a care in the world. I’m proposing something else entirely.
If you don’t want to forgive someone, don’t. Irritation, annoyance or anger is a flag to set a boundary. If you want them in your life be transparent, tell them how you feel about said situation and talk about how to move on together. To me, true forgiveness implies that you see and understand the reasoning behind the action you were upset about. But, if you don’t, forgiveness is not necessary to move forward.
The definition of forgave is to cease to feel resentment against and to grant release for payment of.
We’ve all heard that forgiveness is the catalyst to move forward. It’s the underlying answer to our unbearable stagnation. We cannot make progress without it.
It’s not new, but we now project a celebrated clarity that it is possible to have multiple emotions all at once. We can be overall happy AND be upset about an event or situation. We can be excited AND nervous about a new job. Can’t we disagree with how someone handled something AND move forward in our relationship with them? I honestly think that might be more along the lines of what people mean when they say to forgive so you are able to move on. However, I think we need to communicate it more clearly so we can think about forgiveness differently.
So if we don’t NEED to forgive, when would we? If you overreact to something someone did or you start to see the reasoning for other’s actions and slowly change your mind about it, then, you could forgive by it’s original definition.
What ARE we essentially doing when we forgive in order to move forward? Based on the definition, it says we are releasing payment of. I do want to make it clear that I think this is the part of forgiveness that we all need to pay the most attention too. I don’t condone holding grudges and/or expecting someone to pay for something they did. It is not constructive and there are no benefits. Its the other part I don’t think you have to do – cease feeling resentment. I say, resent the action all you want. If you are not okay with what someone did, you do not have to forgive it, or the person for doing it. I choose to move on into another pathway with that person whilst always being able to clearly see the transgression in the rear view mirror. I don’t need to forget. And I don’t need to forgive either. I will just move on so I can continue building on the foundation that action has created instead of completely disregarding it. It’s cracked but it can still function sufficiently. That way, if they ever do something you don’t agree with again, you are not walking down your relationships’ road uninformed.
I do support putting effort and compassion into really thinking about why someone did what they did so you CAN forgive if possible but if you still don’t see it, then maybe, ultimately, it makes it clear what kind of match this person is for you. I guess, for me, to forgive is to potentially ignore. The phrase “sweeping things under the rug” comes to mind. I suppose that is a good visual of how I see forgiveness. I want the undesirable action someone did to be in clear view so I can use it to inform me of future interactions and how to go about them with this person.
There are always caveats and nothing is black and white, so if the other party has meaningfully tried to get you to see it how they see it, that is something to consider. There are also extenuating circumstances that could change my mind on this thinking as well, but my point is to get you to think differently about forgiveness and the manner with which we speak about it.
I don’t want you to feel pressured to forgive someone if you are not ready or if you don’t understand why you would. If the action was deplorable to you, go with it. Gently move it out of your way, but keep it in the rear view mirror if that is a productive way for you to move forward. I tell children all the time that if they are not sorry then they don’t need to say it and if you are not genuine in forgiveness, do not do it.
If you forgive for the sole reason to move forward, then, to me, it is an act of absolute misperception, misinterpretation and dismissiveness on your part. If you do this, you are now misrepresenting a person as a whole being-and I just don’t think it’s logical to go about your life blinded by a constructed idea. Forgiveness is not required for healing. Indeed, a foundation of facts and internal healing are what can move you forward.