We’ve all heard the cliche saying “Forgive and forget” when we think about the things that have hurt us. You might be struggling with forgiving family members, or friends, or even co-workers for something they did or said that hurt you. It can be hard to forget when someone hurts you - especially if it happens a lot. For instance, maybe you had a childhood full of emotional abuse or a relationship full of verbal abuse. When you talk to other friends about the comments that hurt, they can reply with the cliche that you should forgive and forget.
The truth is that when someone hurts us, it can linger in our brains and cause problems for us down the road. When someone hurts us with their words or their actions, the obvious answer is to talk to them about what happened and let them know that you forgive them. The problem is that sometimes it can be hard to have those conversations. A lot of people have trouble confronting family members or friends for their actions because we don’t want to cause problems in the relationship. When faced with this dilemma, it’s important to remember that you are the most important person in your story. If bringing up someone hurting you ruins a relationship with your family member or friend, then the relationship was fractured to begin with.
Maybe you had a parent that abused you, or a friend that treated you badly, and the relationship has been fractured for a while. You’ve been talking to friends, or other family members, and they’ve told you that in order to move on you need to forgive them. Forgiveness is a complex thing. In order to properly forgive someone, you have to see a change in behavior. For example: if your friend calls you a name and you tell them not to do that and they do it again, it’s harder to forgive them.
In the situation where you’ve dealt with abuse from a family member or partner, forgiveness is something that is solely for you. If you want to forgive them for the hurt they caused you, that is not for them or to even fix the relationship. You can choose to forgive them in order to let go of the hurt they caused you, or you can choose to avoid forgiveness. Regardless of your choice, forgiveness is not for the other person. It is a tool that we can use to decide to let go of something in order to move forward.
It is possible to move forward in life without forgiving someone for hurting you. Despite what people say about forgiveness, it is not a blanket to allow people to hurt you. You are allowed to say: I love you, I valued our relationship, but I cannot forgive you. This can also begin your healing journey. Down the line, you may decide to forgive them, but if you do: that forgiveness is for you.
Whatever you’re struggling with, the therapists at Mindsight are here to help! Contact us today to set up an appointment.
Shelby Case is a new therapist at Mindsight Louisville! Shelby's favorite things include spending time with her animals and her spouse, watching television (currently they are watching Big Brother), and taking road trips. When she isn't providing therapy to clients, she can be found playing video games (her favorite is The Sims 4) or spending too much money at a thrift store. Shelby's favorite color is green and her guilty pleasure is reality TV shows.
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