Is Forgiveness Really Needed to Find Peace? Many clients seek counseling to heal from the sorrow and emotional agony caused by a catastrophic betrayal in a significant relationship, whether it happened recently or years ago.
The subject of forgiveness is one they frequently struggle with. It has been stated that forgiveness is the finest form of love and the greatest of virtues.
How, on the other hand, do we forgive someone who has wronged us but has not earned our forgiveness? What do you do when the offender is too defensive to hear you out, who will never really feel they have something to apologize for, or who simply doesn’t get it?
These are some of the questions that have both challenged and intrigued me in my work with clients. As a result, when I recently discovered a new book by one of my favorite authors that included a chapter on forgiveness, I purchased it right away. ‘Why won’t you apologize?’ says the author in this book.
Harriet Lerner, a noted relationship specialist, and psychologist discusses whether we must always forgive people who have wronged us. I’d like to share some of her ideas in this article because the book has so much insight and guidance.
Forgiveness concepts and attitudes
A great deal has been written on forgiveness. We live in a culture that promotes forgiveness as a virtue and need and urges us to forgive those who have wronged us.
Some of the most frequent ideas include that there can be no peace without forgiveness, that forgiveness is necessary for healthy mental and physical health, and that forgiveness may release the wounded party from hanging on to their wrath and resentment.
Do you imply letting go when you say forgiveness?
What I’ve discovered is that while many people use the term “forgiveness,” they aren’t talking about forgiveness.
Instead, they’re expressing their desire to be free of strong emotions like rage, bitterness, and resentment. “I want to forgive,” says Lerner, “typically translates to “I want to get over this and find some peace of mind.” Words or words like “resolution,” “detachment,” “moving on,” and “letting go” may be more appropriate.
People often get emotionally trapped because they confuse letting go with forgiving.
Is Forgiveness Really Needed to Find Peace? Giving up
So, what does it mean to let go?
To begin with, letting go does not imply that you forgive, forget, or condone the other person’s terrible behavior. It’s not about absolving the offender of responsibility for his or her acts.
Many people use the term to describe the process of letting go of pain over time. They want to achieve peace of mind by letting go of the anger and grief they’ve been dragging around with them.
It’s about accepting the fact that something bad has happened, but the offender is either unreachable or long dead, and we have the option of continuing to bear the burden of the wrongdoing or not.
We all want to suffer less, yet we’re prone to continue to do things that prevent us from reaching a resolution and letting go. A need for justice and our proclivity to take things personally are two reasons that may prevent individuals from moving on.
As a result, letting go involves choosing to shield ourselves from the negative consequences of remaining trapped in the past.
It’s admitting that the persistent anger and bitterness engendered by complaints and grudges saps our ability to completely live in the now and plan for the future.
Deciding to let go rather than hang on
Because there is no one-size-fits-all approach to healing, letting go is making a conscious decision to behave in ways that allow us to let go of our anger and resentment.
We know we’ve let go when we’ve stopped worrying over the damage and there’s no emotional charge or, if there is, it’s diminished significantly when we recall the offender’s previous crime or cruel behavior.
While commitment and hard work are required for letting go, forgiveness is not required. It does not follow that to let go, you must forgive specific conduct.
Read also: How To Forgive Someone Who Has Hurt You?