Forgive and forget? To forgive isn’t the answer that you’re looking for

Remember a time when you felt someone had wronged you but you eventually found a way to forgive them? You were likely feeling various emotions like conflict, anger or rage before you were finally able to move past it.

Depending on the situation, you may have had trouble getting to the point where you could forgive and move on. Many people keep going over the situation in their mind analysing each and every aspect of what happened often making things worse. This can be a difficult process and take a mental strain to work through.

Conflicted individual who isn't ready for forgive yet
Conflict can take a mental toll

What if I were to tell you that forgiveness is not the answer when looking to move past these situations. You may not agree with me right now but stick with me you may come to see things differently.

What is it to forgive?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, to forgive is to “Stop feeling angry or resentful towards someone for an offence, flaw or mistake”. Of course this could also apply when you feel angry or resentful towards yourself.

There is an underlying assumption here that there is fault in some manner. When you forgive, you’re saying that you’re willing to move past this indiscretion. This places you (really your ego) in a moral high ground because you’re saying that you are right in the situation.

We’re just thinking about it a certain way

What if there wasn’t a fault at all, that no mistake had been made and therefore nothing for you to forgive?

In a previous post (click here), I pointed towards feelings being a reflection of thoughts. The implication of this is that before your feeling of offence, you’re having thoughts of offence. These are just thoughts and they are not actually telling you about the other person.

The thinking you have about any given situation is only one version of events. We know if we ask someone to recall a shared instance, they will recall different aspects we forgot or did not know. They may also hold different opinions about what happened. This will be their own version of the event. This is why we instinctively ask people for their help or opinions in times of conflict. If everyone saw the world the same, asking for others opinions would not make sense.

Given that we each see things differently, that there is no one version of the truth, how do we know what we think and feel is right? How do we know that the other person (or ourselves) have actually caused offence or made some sort of mistake requiring forgiveness? Actually we don’t.

If you’re anything like me, you can recall times when in the middle of an argument, where you told someone with conviction the big bad horrible reason they did something to hurt you. Their response however completely shifts the argument because your assumption was completely wrong. In an instant, everything you thought to be true comes tumbling down and the argument is over in an instant.

What this means for you

We have so many thoughts going through our head in any given day. Some of these we latch on to and if for long enough they turn into beliefs. We do not know our thoughts are correct and we can never really know this. We can however see them for what they are, just thoughts passing though not to be taken so seriously.

Have a think about the situations you have going on in your life right now where you feel anger or conflict towards another person. Ask yourself:

  1. What if they hadn’t really wronged me?
  2. What if, placing my ego aside for a minute, I just thought they had?
  3. How would/will I act differently when thinking from this place?

You may find a sense of compassion towards them and if that happens, you maybe able to find an easier resolution. Ultimately you may come to realise as I have in many situations that forgiveness wasn’t required. The sense of fault and anger that you felt was just a reflection of thoughts you were holding on to.

Making up always feels good, why put it off?
Making up always feels good, why put it off?

Final Thoughts

Looking inwards is always a good place for answers. Even in situations where you feel the other person is 100% at fault, allow this process some time. You may get from feeling the situation is 100% their fault to 95% because you see the role of your own thinking. Focus on that 5% and see see where it leads to. My own experience tells me the more I look in that direction, it’s never just 5%!

You may read this article and think my suggestions would lead to you becoming everyone else’s doormat. I’ve personally not found this to be the case. If anything, once I became less precious about my thoughts, I became more present in the moment. As a result, I can more clearly see when people are trying to take advantage of me. I assert my boundaries without all negative thought patterns and feelings associated to them.

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