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I hear a lot of people talk about forgiveness making them feel better. But, aren't a lot of things unforgivable?

By freeofgod8
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7

A good explanation from [greatergood.berkeley.edu]

What Is Forgiveness?
Psychologists generally define forgiveness as a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness.

Just as important as defining what forgiveness is, though, is understanding what forgiveness is not. Experts who study or teach forgiveness make clear that when you forgive, you do not gloss over or deny the seriousness of an offense against you. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting, nor does it mean condoning or excusing offenses. Though forgiveness can help repair a damaged relationship, it doesn’t obligate you to reconcile with the person who harmed you, or release them from legal accountability.

Instead, forgiveness brings the forgiver peace of mind and frees him or her from corrosive anger. While there is some debate over whether true forgiveness requires positive feelings toward the offender, experts agree that it at least involves letting go of deeply held negative feelings. In that way, it empowers you to recognize the pain you suffered without letting that pain define you, enabling you to heal and move on with your life.

And you totally hit it out of the ballpark. Well done!

@PalacinkyPDX, "Letting go" means emotionally detaching from the incident and leaving the baggage of the injury behind. You grow out of the incident. You become bigger than being the victim.

@PalacinkyPDX It can happen and it does. I have been through a great deal of trauma in my life and I have been able to "let go" of the pain of sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse... It takes processing through the feelings. Also, I am a therapist and have helped many people process through their trauma and "let go" as well as forgive.

@PalacinkyPDX I never said one would forget. Letting go isn't some Men in Black mind eraser. It's a process, as you said, and it's not always easy. I never said that letting go of pain and hurt happened in a magical moment and poof it was gone. Having the ability to let go and forgive others is about not letting it rent space in your head and frees one to find happiness. No one can be truly happy if they allow themselves to carry all of that with them for the rest of their lives.

@PalacinkyPDX I can understand that. I guess I don't see forgiveness as something religion based. Letting go is just an easy term to use. Gaining perspective is a good way to put it.

6

I completely agree with you there. I am fed up with people that tell others to forgive and they will feel better. What one needs is to forgive oneself for putting up with a situation for so long.

Jolanta Level 8 Dec 11, 2018

I couldn't have said it as well.

6

As much as I would like to buy into all of the forgiveness is for the person to move on stuff, there are things that are not forgivable. Holding on to hating a person for what they have done is sometimes the only thing that allows you to make it through.

Sorry, I am not forgiving anyone for some of the pain and hurt. I am not angry or bitter about it, but they don't get my forgiveness...let them live in their daily hell if they even feel anything about it. I own my feelings and that is the control I need. Don;t give a crap if they want my forgiveness...the answer is no.

You can forgive (let go of it and emotionally detach) without condoning.

It's true you own your feelings and the feelings are real but you control what you feel - you choose what you feel. But why choose a feeling that is detrimental to yourself? Anger is a substance that corrodes the vessel that contains it.

@dare2dream uhm, no, I don't want to let it go...it is a part of who I am, and while I have not let it impact my life, it is comparmentalized and will remain there...you presuppose that it is detrimental but if you read my other comments, I have already dealt with the anger and it did not mean I had to forgive anything to get rid of that emotion, which I agree is corrosive...but anger is not the only emotion attached to so called "forgiveness"...thanks for your input, but, still "no"...

5

Holding a grudge only hurts the grudge-holder. I forgive people and have boundaries.

5

Yes. Some things are unforgivable, and some people don't deserve to be forgiven, even figuratively. If someone has done you harm, you don't have to let some counselor or positivity coach pressure or guilt you into "forgiving" that person. It's not only bogus woo, it's counterproductive and even possibly self-destructive. I agree that we need to find a way to stop the injuries done to us from eating at us, but by forgiving them? What's healthy about that? Burn them in effigy and move on.

Deb57 Level 8 Dec 10, 2018

Which is exactly the therapy I got...more of physically releasing the anger and hurt and rage than forgiving...I was never asked or told to forgive...just deal with the emotion that was destructive...the rage...I think a lot of it is woo by those who have not gone through such trauma...or else, different methods for different people...emotions are not one size fits all...

5

Everything is forgivable. Forgiveness is not about condoning the behavior or giving the offender a free pass. Forgiveness is about letting go of the pain and relieving yourself of the burden of carrying resentment. Holding on to pain and resentment only hurts you and does not punish anyone or change any wrongful behavior.

4

I can forgive someone who has genuinely apologized and recognized the hurt cause by the action... and I can forgive someone who is no longer living... but those who refuse to acknowledge the wrong and refuse to apologize... nope! I don't need them in my life.

Julie808 Level 7 Dec 11, 2018
4

I think the key is to find some way to put the hurt behind you and move on. That doesn't mean you have to forget or make the perpetrator feel better by voicing forgiveness to him. You just don't let it eat you up and ruin your life.

4

I think we have a semantics issue here.

People conflate absolve and exonerate with forgiveness. We need to keep them separate. When we say forgive we mean detach.

@dare2dream , detach I can do. Forgive, depending on the situation, I can't.

4

I think so. Have never really understood the benefit of forgiveness. Getting over bitterness, yes. But forgiving someone for atrocities, sorry, I just don't get it.

Louiseann Level 6 Dec 10, 2018
3

There are unforgivable offenses, such as an entire family utterly failing you after your girlfriend's suicide. Even making it worse with insensitive comments. I mean, damn! I'm much better off on my own. I need people around me that build me up, not try to tear me down! Forgiveness is provided at the pleasure of the offended. My own unwillingness to forgive my family for so many offenses costs me family time a lot. But my integrity and dignity and sense of self are intact. Peace in this holiday season to all peacemakers! (no religious inference whatsoever) Go Mueller!

3

I don't get it. Forgiving say, a child molester, is beyond me.

freeofgod Level 8 Dec 10, 2018

Wildflower explained forgiveness very well. Forgiveness is for the benefit of the forgiver not the offender.

Forgiveness in that situation I feel just means "let go of your plans for revenge. Forgive yourself if you feel to blame for someone hurting yourself or loved one." No forgiveness will ever be extended to the bastard that did it, but you have to forgive yourself.

@dare2dream How, exactly, do you arrive at that conclusion?

I was able to forgive my molester stepfather but when my brother married someone with a young daughter I told them about it and told him never leave her alone with him. That prompted a confrontation and my stepfather at least admitted to my brother that it did happen, that I wasn't lying and he was very sorry. Still - they never left the girl with and I'm glad I spoke out.

@Deb57, Like Wildflower, on this page says, forgiveness does not mean forgetting, nor does it mean condoning or excusing offenses. Forgiveness does not mean what the offender did was okay. Like Wurlitzer, on this page says, forgiveness means letting go of the burden of hating or wanting revenge and having to keep score. You let it go and put it in the past. Forgiveness frees the victim of being the victim. The offender does not even need to know they are forgiven. It's all about the victim.

3

I can forgive a lot but not always forget

Forgiveness does not mean forgetting.

@PalacinkyPDX that's right. I know that first hand.

2

I think the word "forgiveness" gets thrown around or misunderstood. It's not about saying what the other person did was okay or letting them off the hook -- it's about letting go of the anger so that it doesn't run your life. That doesn't mean you forget or give them a pass.

bleurowz Level 8 Dec 11, 2018
2

My younger sister did a no-show, no notification with my late wife's memorial service, while the rest of my immediate family showed up. She also never explained or apologized for it later even after I confronted her. I will never forgive or forget that, as it was not only disrespect to me and my wife, it also embarrassed my family, since everybody at the service noticed her conspicous absence and many commented about it to me. I may be estranged from my family, but I recognize the importance of such occaisons and respect them enough to show up and show appropriate loyalty to the family.

2

Yes, absolutely.

nvrnuff Level 8 Dec 11, 2018
2

I think, at the root of your question, is the assumption that forgiveness is synonymous with rekindling connection. I think they are completely separate ideas. Forgiveness is a one-sided, empathetic act, carried out by the scorned, when they recognize they were victimized/hurt by someone who, themselves, was a hurt human being too. Forgiveness for the most heinous act is totally possible when we see enough detail about the perpetrator. But, to partly reiterate, forgiveness can happen in your heart, without the perpetrator ever knowing, and without any renewed connection. Forgiveness is often framed as a personal gift to the perp, as in someone "asking for forgiveness". In interpersonal conflict, when one asks for forgiveness, they are often actually asking for the victim to "forget" or "let bygones be bygones" or "for another chance" (none of which are forgiveness.) The act of forgiving is actually really primarily a personal gift to yourself and your own mental health... As I said, when we realize that the victimizer was victimized many times in the past themselves...and are thus a hurt and hurting human... we can forgive. (A process that I'd call expanding our understanding of the human condition). Forgiveness is a atate of mind for the victim to aspire ....not the perp.

I disagree. Forgiveness, to me, is more religious garbage.

2

I forgive everyone because we have no free will. Not a single person is responsible for their actions.

We are all responsible for ourr actions!

So ... I’m not really responsible for deciding to exact vengeance on those who have crossed me ...

@mikebeed I apologize for 9/11. I didn’t cause it but I’m responsible for it.

@The-Krzyz ironically if free will doesn’t exist then the belief in free will isn’t anyone’s fault. Therefore the belief in personal responsibility isn’t anyone’s fault either. And therefore it’s not your fault if you can’t forgive and exact revenge.

@MrControversy, @The-Krzyz Not a single person is responsible for their actions? Really?

@mikebeed I honestly don’t think so. The dilemma of determinism is a compelling argument or at least I find it to be. It demonstrates using logic why free will isn’t real. It goes something like this.

Everything in the universe can be divided into two categories: things that happen randomly and things that don’t happen randomly. Those are the only options.

Now what do the two categories tell us about free will? If our thoughts and actions happen randomly then we might as well flip a coin every time we make a decision. That doesn’t amount to free will.

But what about the alternative? If our thoughts and actions are not random then that means it’s determined by something. And that doesn’t give you free will either.

That’s it though. Those are the two options and neither give you free will.

Excellent explanation, @MrControversy ! It has to do with the duality of subjective reality and objective reality. We perceive we have choices only because we can't understand all the factors that compel us to make the choices we make. Most people can't wrap their heads around material determinism. But you simplified it very well.

2

Holding on to unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Resentment, anger, and all the emotions of unforgiveness are a burden to you. Let it go. Time/fate/karma/whatever will take care of the offender, or it won't. It isn't in your control. And because you can't control that, you control what you can and let go of it. It is hard, but it is freeing.

It is entirely possible to let go of anger, resentment, whatever and not forgive.

@nvrnuff yep...letting go of the negative emotions is different than forgiving...you don't need both to feel normal and whole again...

1

I don't forgive or forget. I behave well and try to understand and let things be, but they have an effect on any possible relationship.

CeliaVL Level 7 Dec 12, 2018
1

How can I forgive the man who murdered a young eighteen year old woman, cut off her arms, legs and head and threw her torso into Lake Ontario, like a piece of garbage. They found her head in the murders freezer. How can you forgive that? This murderer was charged with two young womens deaths. I knew one of these young women. I’ll forgive just about anything but not this POS.

MsHoliday Level 8 Dec 11, 2018

You transcend it.

1

Cheating and stealing are internally unforgivable in my book. On the surface, I move on to give myself peace of mind.

1

That’s what I’ve come to understand about ‘forgiveness’. A person can forgive you but even over a long period of time they won’t let it go or die. I have forgiven people and will either let it go right away or let it go over time but it seems that’s impossible for others when it comes to me. To me, there are unforgivable things but it has to be really bad.

1

Yep, infidelity!

mikebeed Level 7 Dec 10, 2018
1

Well nowadays yes when you factor in the level and volume of which people are offended then yes by today’s standards I’m sure that a lot of things are unforgivable.

But in reality you’re going to have to come to terms with the fact that either you own whatever was done to you or it will possess you.

For example my father was an abusive control freak that caused my birth mother to abandon me and after which I was passed around my family until my dad decided that he needed to raise me and shortly there after me and my stepmother endured years of physical, emotional and social abuse.

And by today’s standards I should be in therapy, on medication’s, most likely abusing drugs and alcohol as well as being abusive to my wife and child oh and repeatedly incarcerated.

Yeah non of that has ever happened because I owned myself and I confronted my father and told him that my life was too valuable to waste on hating and resenting him and I did the same for my birth mother.
I told my stepmother that she could leave him or hit his ass back but their problems weren’t going to be my problems and I also told him that until he could admit that he was wrong and apologize then for him not to talk to me.

It took quite a long time but it happened and i forgave him as well as my mother before she died 3 years ago. And even though I’m on my second marriage I can say that both of my wives would laugh if anyone ever asked if I had hit them and my kid would say that I can be mean and irritating but that’s it.

I was in the military, worked in law enforcement and not once have I ever been accused of being abusive or out of control. I’ve never gone to church unless it was for someone in my family so religion has never played a part of my mentality or behavior.

It’s like I said if you don’t own your life and I mean all of your life good, bad and the fucking ugly because it will own you if you let it.

48thRonin Level 8 Dec 10, 2018
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