Updated: Jul 21
What does forgiveness mean to you? What would have to happen to feel like you can accurately and authentically forgive someone? Depending on one’s definition of forgiveness, it may be powerfully necessary for healing, especially for spiritual healing, or it can be incredibly damaging. Unfortunately, many people feel they don’t have a choice and “should” forgive someone due to society’s messages that healing cannot be obtained without forgiveness. What if one’s healing process does not involve forgiveness? One may feel guilty or ashamed of themselves for not being able to forgive like society says to, and maybe it is okay not to.
Forgiveness can feel too burdening, too difficult of a task, and some situations or individuals may be unforgivable. Making the choice not to forgiven can be a powerful tool for regaining power. One may need to embrace their anger when their rights, mental health and/or bodily autonomy have been disregarded, oppressed and abused. This anger, and many corresponding “negative” emotions, when used in a healthy way, can provide motivation for creating changes in one’s life, especially when combined with “positive” emotions or beliefs about healing. Yes, anger and hope can co-exist.
Also, accurate forgiveness is not achievable if we are taking on too much inappropriate self-blame in a situation. We need to accurately assign blame to others and ourselves, a process that can feel uncomfortable for people who have been taught not to blame, or told that blame isn’t healthy for healing.
Even if one chooses not to forgive, self-forgiveness and acceptance are necessary in one’s healing process. Self-forgiveness of undue blame, “bad” behaviors and prior mistakes – no more “shoulda coulda woulda” – can liberate you from the binds holding you back. Acceptance of the situation by releasing a desire for the past to be different, letting go of false hope for the future, and fully embracing your current situation can provide a strong foundation for forging a pathway towards your ideal future.
Whichever you choose, whether it be forgiveness or acceptance, remember that it is a very personal choice that cannot be forced or asked upon you by anyone, even by a therapist. You always have the right to choose how to heal.