This particular Mental Health Chat stirred up something at the core of many participants.
We discussed forgiveness and its tie-in to mental health. What a spirited discussion!!
Lines were drawn in the sand, beliefs and dogmas were challenged, folks agreed to disagree, and here we are.
Rather than my usual recap of those events (checkout the storify here), I elect to share what this chat churned up.:
- Forgiveness is a part of the process of moving forward in life.
Strongest lines drawn over this idea. I will stick to my guns about it:
Had a traumatic event occurred in my life (and they sure have), I find it necessary and expedient to my own mental, emotional health to forgive the offender and release the transgression from my physical memory–or at least reshape what the event and its outcome represents to me. I don’t see the point in living my life as a victim of what happened to me.
Several felt like forgiveness was not a part of the deal, that moving forward didn’t necessitate. which brings me to this:
- Forgiveness is not emotional; it is a decision, one of the most difficult to make.
AS such, forgiveness is in no ways WEAK. It takes incredible amount of mental fortitude to forgive.
Also, because we are social animals, no one is above forgiveness. It must be at some pt or other extended to all of us. No one is beneath or beyond forgiveness either– even though there are degrees of transgression and personal injury and harm, anyone can be forgiven.
- Forgiveness is a godly activity. It requires superhuman help to forgive the most abhorrent betrayal, crime, travesty, ignominous violation. I would never suggest abuse victims get in touch with their abusers and haul out for forgiveness.
- You must begin with forgiving yourself. Another standstill about social conditioning, personal responsibility, and blame. For some, it’s easier to release the original offender than to release yourself from the knowledge and fact that you allowed the violation to take place. To some, I imply here that you are to blame for what happened–and I do not say so. You are not to blame for what happened to you. But you need to affirm that truth within yourself, for yourself.
It’s a protective measure to forgive yourself for your perceived flaw or weakness, short-sightedness, or whatever else you internalize as the cause for why they targeted you. Picked you out, counted you out. Forgiving yourself affirms that you’re worthy of caring; you’re validating your own experiences, knowing that they play a part in making you who you are. Do you like the person you are now? Do you accept yourself without condition?
Perhaps what we really need here is an operable definition, because many seemed to think forgiveness as fulfillment of another person’s expectations, oppression, the delusion of religious pious nonsense and social elites.
Perhaps, their bone is not with the concept, but with the established institutions that are man made, therefore fallible. oye.
What forgiveness is NOT:
- Dismissing the offender’s actions as insignificant or denying that you were offended/wronged:
Part of forgiving someone is being willing to acknowledge that a transgression took place, and how that affected your physical, mental-emotional, spiritual well-being. To deny or to stuff your true feelings is to ignore the truth. And, the truth sets you free.
- An opportunity to be re-victimized or re-traumatized by the offender:
That is straight-up fear talking. False Evidence Appearing Real.
You cannot center this process on who hurt you, because then your focus will not be on your own healing, growth and development, and personal agency. This whole process is about your agency!
You can choose to submit to worry and fear, to relive trauma, or choose to have your thoughts, words, life centered on something more positive–true and effective liberation.Psalm 27:13
I would have despaired had I not believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord In the land of the living.
- Vengeance, or conditional upon exacting retribution from the offender:
Indeed, that defeats the purpose of offering forgiveness–vengeance connects you to the offense through anger, bitterness, festering pain, and possible self-destructive actions. You getting revenge or paying evil for evil will not erase the original offense or assuage your grief at being mistreated.
It will, however, leave you open to attacks on your own conscience:
If you originally perceived to have been violated on a certain level, what you value/care for/love being attacked and injured, are you not hypocritical for violating someone in turn? What does it say about your character that you would resort to causing that pain?
- Synonymous with reconciliation:
This misunderstanding often has tons of people up in arms.
You can choose not to embrace your offender–in lots of cases, a clean break is essential to improving and maintaining your mental and emotional health. (esp. physical/emotional/ sexual abuse, grief/loss when the offender dies…)
You do not have to stay in any communication with the person, because you do not owe them anything. You don’t even have to locate and speak directly to them in order to practice forgiveness. You could write a letter and burn it, or draw it out, or have an objective third party stand-in for the offender and say what you need to say.
The decision to continue in relationship to the offender is entirely up to the injured party.
Forgiveness is a chance and opportunity to allow joy to return to your heart despite your circumstances. For Light to give you some revelation, to get objective insight and perspective about your life again. For doors to open because you have removed conscious and subconscious blockages that were rooted in pride, and your fear of being violated/rejected/mistreated.
Why allow pride and fear to steal any more from you??
A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.