The tricky thing with forgiveness is that it’s something so easy to receive, yet so hard to give. Being forgiven is such a relief, when someone forgives us it’s as if we were pardoned for our greatest sin without any repercussions. We are let off the hook. We all make mistakes and sometimes these mistakes lead us to hurt people around us even if we don’t want to. When someone forgives us, it’s the release of the stronghold guilt, regret and shame can have on us.
Yet on the other hand, forgiving someone who has caused you immense harm, that is very hard to do. We feel people who have hurt us often don’t deserve to be forgiven. Unlike us, when we hurt people we do deserve it. It’s an unequal equation. At the same time, we hear so often how important it is to forgive and forget. But what if you can’t? For one, making sure you don’t forget something harmful to you is very important. It’s evolutionary. We learn that what hurts us is bad for us. Bees sting. Sun burns hurt. Walking on hot or cold ground is painful. The list goes on and on. If it hurts, it’s bad and you should remember it so you don’t get hurt again. The same counts when people are the ones doing the hurting. The question remains therefore – do we need to forgive? There is the term “to forgive and to forget” – is this the most efficient way to lead a healthy life?
There are different views and different theories to this. Studies have proposed it may depend on the relationship value and the exploitation value. If the value to maintain the relationship is high, meaning keeping the relationship in your life is of great importance and value to you, then the relationship value is high. If you think you might get hurt and exploited again, then the exploitation value is high. The combination for forgiveness is when relationship value is high, but exploitation is low. So the question remains, should you try to forgive someone whose exploitation risk is high?
If the relationship value is low, most likely you will forget about this person in due time. Time is a healer, yet it works in it’s own pace. Give yourself the space and the time to heal. Perhaps get to the bottom of what this person did that hurt you so much, it might be a trigger inside of you from past pain. It’s much much harder though to forgive those who have a high relationship value (for sometime in your life at least) and high exploitation risk. It could be someone highly abusive in your life. You have put yourself out of their harms way – but now forgiving them is the hardest step of it all. The question remains – should you forgive them?
I would rather argue for the fact that you should learn to accept what was done to you. Learn to understand why this person may have hurt you and why it hurt you so much. Turn the focus towards your pain. Spend your energy and time on healing. I believe a certain kind of forgiveness will fall into place then.
What are you approaches to forgiveness?