Yoko Ono once tweeted, “Take forgiveness slowly. Do not blame yourself for being slow. Peace will come”. There is often a plethora of reasons that you have been encouraged to forgive and forget. They all sound nice, and some of them may even be reasonable, but sometimes it can leave you feeling cheated in the situation.
Some people may use religion as a reason you should forgive and forget. Others may tell you that you should be the bigger person. Another excuse may be that it’s better for your mental health.
The truth is that forgiveness and forgetting is not easy, and it’s not always the best solution for you. You need to know that it is okay not to forgive sometimes. You also do not have to forget.
Why You are Taught to Forgive and Forget
We live in a society in which peace is the ultimate goal. While humanity is falling drastically short of that goal, we are still taught to forgive and forget so that we can all get along. That’s what it boils down to – getting along, even if the person wronged you.
It’s also about second chances. We are conditioned to believe that everyone should get a do-over, no matter how bad they mess up.
In theory, getting along and second chances are two great notions – words to live by. However, there is one big flaw with both concepts. They do more to accommodate the feelings of the wrongdoer than the victim.
Sometimes, you need to put yourself first. That means you do not have to yield your emotions to make someone else feel better. The next section has ten reasons you don’t need to forgive or forget.
Ten Reasons Not to Forgive and Forget
Here are ten situations in which you might find yourself not ready to forgive…yet.
1. You should put yourself first.
Do not let society make you feel strange because you won’t forgive and forget. Think about how you feel. Sometimes forgiving and forgetting means that you must put your feelings aside. Ignoring your feelings and emotions when you are, the victim is absurd.
If you feel like holding that grudge, hold it. It is true that holding grudges does take up some of your energy and could cloud your aura a bit but ignoring your emotions will do the same. Don’t be afraid to hold that person accountable until you feel like letting it go, not when society thinks you should let it go.
2. People need to earn forgiveness.
Forgiveness is not something that you should hand out freely. It’s a lot like money – no one is handing it out. You must work and earn it.
After all, if it’s easy to get forgiveness, some people will not think twice about harming you again because they know you’ll forgive them again. Making people earn your forgiveness puts your forgiveness in high value. They may think twice before crossing you again, or you may find that they cannot earn it (which means they don’t get it).
The next time someone encourages you to give out forgiveness freely because it will make you feel better, ask them for twenty bucks and tell them that will make them feel better. You probably already know what’s going to happen.
3. Even if they earn it, they may not deserve it.
Not everyone deserves forgiveness. There are several reasons why a person does not deserve forgiveness, including some reasons on this list. If a person doesn’t deserve it, they don’t get it with anything else in the world. Why should forgiveness be any different?
Keep your forgiveness for people who deserve it. An example is someone who accidentally wronged you; perhaps they didn’t know the consequences of their actions. Don’t be tricked into giving a person something they don’t deserve.
4. They’ve had more than one chance already.
The old saying goes, “fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” Forgiving a person once is nice and possibly even the Godly way of living your life. However, this also opens the door for them to hurt you again.
When people show you who they are, believe them. If they’ve shown you that they can hurt you, there is no reason to think they aren’t capable of continuing that behavior. It’s sad to think about, but people don’t often change without some grand intervention.
Some people in this world are horrible and evil. They may be sociopaths or psychopaths. It’s not pleasant to think about, but it’s true.
Not only should you not forgive these people, but you definitely should not forget what they’ve done to you. It would be best to protect yourself from these types of people because they’ll enjoy repeating the pain they’ve caused you.
6. You don’t want to forgive them.
You might not have a good reason, but you don’t want to offer forgiveness. That’s okay. You are the victim. You don’t need a reason, and no one should push you to do it.
People may say that it’s selfish not to offer forgiveness. Sometimes it’s okay to be selfish. Being selfish can be a form of self-preservation.
It’s similar to the first reason – putting yourself first. You can make a choice not to forgive someone. The world isn’t going to end, war isn’t going to start, and life isn’t going to crumble if you don’t offer your forgiveness.
7. The infliction was too traumatic to forget.
Maybe you can forgive (and that’s a big maybe). However, the experience may be imprinted in your brain in a way that you can’t forget no matter how hard you try. Don’t let people make you think that something is wrong if you can’t forget what happened.
This condition is called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and it’s widespread among people who have witnessed or suffered some traumatic event. It’s a psychological condition, and you may need professional help to get over it.
Take all the time you need to heal, and don’t worry about forgiving and forgetting until you’re truly ready. In fact, you may never be ready, and that’s okay also.
8. The damage can’t be undone.
What’s the point of forgiving and forgetting when the damage is already done? Whatever infliction has been done to you isn’t going away. It’s permanent, and so is the fallout from it.
Are you supposed to forgive and forget when your life has been permanently altered by someone who caused you harm? Why is it that you are the one that must be inconvenienced emotionally while the other person takes your forgiveness and feels better?
Don’t stand for that. If you feel bad, the person who harmed you should feel worse. This may sound a bit like tit for tat, and society tells you that’s wrong. However, if you must constantly face the fallout from what a person did to you, there is no way to forget it possibly. You’re also human, so there will be plenty of times you feel resentment, which means you haven’t’ really forgiven the person.
9. They aren’t sorry about what they did.
Some people may not care that they harmed you. They are truly selfish – not in a self-preservation way but in a purely narcissistic way. These people don’t deserve forgiveness because they obviously meant to harm you.
Like evil people, you should absolutely not forget what a selfish, narcissistic person did to you. They’ll do it again without a hint of remorse. Don’t let yourself fall into that trap.
10. Maybe you can forgive or forget, but not both.
You might be able to find enough energy to do one or the other, but doing both may be too much for your psyche to handle. Forgiveness may be the easiest and the wisest one to do. This way, you can remember what they did and never allow it to happen again.
On the other hand, forgetting can also be fulfilling if you completely forget that person, not just the deed they did. There is nothing wrong with cutting toxic people out of your life. In fact, that could make you feel safer, stronger, and better about yourself.
Everywhere you go, you’ll find people that tell you forgiveness is the best thing you can do for yourself. However, every situation is different, and so is every person. What’s best for one person may not be best for you.
This article isn’t meant to encourage you never to forgive. There will be times in your life where forgiveness is warranted. However, there are times where you don’t need to feel pressured to conform to society’s standards.
When contemplating forgiving someone and/or forgetting what they did, use the ten suggestions above to help you decide. At the end of the suggestions, if you truly feel that forgiving and forgetting will lift a weight off your shoulders, then go for it. If not, remember that you are the victim, and your feelings and emotions are more important than the person who harmed you.