Pressure to forgive

There is more than one way to be a good person. If your religious/spiritual beliefs, personality, and brain chemistry lead you to be someone who wants to forgive abusers and other assholes, go for it. (You do you!!!) But forgiveness is just one option. Ultimately, we should all be judged on the good in our actions; how we privately think/feel about what happened in our past is our own business.

Not forgiving doesn’t necessarily mean one is stuck in the past: one can walk away from a bad experience without forgiving the perpetrator. Not forgiving doesn’t mean one is harboring or attracting hate: one can still choose to detach from the situation from the perspective of there being a greater good in detaching than in continuing to engage.

Personally, I reserve forgiveness for those who show they’ve changed (which may or may not include efforts to make amends), and those whose harmful behaviors can be better understood by unfortunate circumstances rather than deliberate, unapologetic cruelty. But that’s just my own way of handling it. Everyone deals with past interpersonal trauma their own way on their own schedule and I’d never try to force my own beliefs about this on anyone else.

Unfortunately, the religious/cultural pressure behind forgiveness is so strong that many people have never even considered this decision from the perspective of someone who feels differently, and as a result, they cannot see what is wrong with pressuring others to forgive. The problem is that pressuring others to forgive, by implying that they are bad/damaged if they don’t, is a form of victim-blaming and it helps no one.

If you’re facing pressure to forgive but aren’t so sure forgiving is the right answer for you, know you are not alone. Hopefully our friends of a more forgiving nature will one day learn to respect our differences and not be so judgmental.

3 thoughts on “Pressure to forgive

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