Learning how to forgive others when they have caused hurt, sadness, or pain, is perhaps one of the most valuable skills one can learn in their lifetime. On the other side, many may believe that, by forgiving, they are letting their perpetrator ‘win,’ or gain control over their emotions and well-being. However, granting forgiveness to those who have hurt us, either intentionally or unintentionally, is the best way to handle the situation, as it allows one to move on from that experience peacefully, while still having gleaned knowledge from the event so as to avoid additional hurt in the future.
By granting forgiveness to those who have wronged or hurt us, we are able to accept the reality of what has happened, and thus come to a peaceful resolution of how to move on and away from the event. This idea is explored in The Most Hateful Words by Amy Tan, in which a daughter comes to realize that, by forgiving her mom for their tumultuous past together, she can then focus on the better parts of their time together. By learning to realize what she ‘should’ remember, and what she ‘should’ forget, she gains a sense of freedom in her mind, as well as in her relationship with her mother (Tan, 219). Anyone can relate to this instance, whether it is forgiving an unfaithful spouse, a parent who disappointed, a friend that lied, or other life examples. When one is hurt or wronged, inevitably, there will be an initial flood of emotions that may include anger, sadness, regret, and disbelief.
Following this event, every person must address the question as to whether he or she should forgive. Many people falsely assume that by granting forgiveness, they are merely excusing the hurtful actions done to them by their perpetrator. However, granting forgiveness does not mean that one is simply choosing to look the other way without pardoning the wrongdoing. Instead, choosing to forgive means letting go the entailed judgments and grievances, thus allowing one to heal. While this may sound like an easy process, it can often feel quite impossible to accomplish. Additionally, forgiveness can be a slow process, and does not necessarily mean involving the person that you are attempting to forgive. Rather, forgiveness is not something one does for their perpetrator, but for their own self. This makes it a rather difficult process, as one will often feel feelings of revenge or retribution, the need to be superior, or even the fear that one will lose their connection to their perpetrator, who is related to them at some level. It is also important to note that forgiveness necessitates the feeling of being willing to forgive. This may take time, as the hurt caused may be quite deep, or because the perpetrator expressed no remorse or emotion. However, when one is able to move forward and realize forgiveness towards another, they are in fact far better off than those who have hurt them, as they have successfully learned and grew from the situation. Being hurt forces one to realize their own needs and boundaries, and thus when one is able to forgive, they know how to better cope with similar instances that may occur in the future.
In summary, granting forgiveness to those who have hurt or wronged us is the best way to handle a situation, as it allows one to move on with their life both peacefully and healthfully. Though often a difficult process to achieve, forgiveness does require time and patience, and is not necessarily for the perpetrator’s benefit, but rather for one’s own closure and healing. In this way, forgiveness allows a person to successfully move on from the hurtful event, thus releasing them from any pain and providing closure.
- Tan, A. (2012). The Opposite of Fate. UK: HarperCollins.