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Before You Forgive Someone | Five Things To Know

kalantri on Articles - 1. You don't have to forgive. Our spiritual leaders (and Facebook feeds) encourage the idea that forgiveness helps us heal — there's that saying, "Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die," which is a fine saying, but it glosses over the fact that anger can be useful; anger can serve as a way of asserting your value, make it clear that someone's behavior is unacceptable. Girls, especially, need reassurance that they don't always have to make nice. (Girls, you don't always have to make nice.) Anger can also be a way to take a stand on the larger concerns surrounding your individual experience (e.g., racism, misogyny and other social justice issues).

2. Assess. What was the level of betrayal? Was the act criminal or simply the jerkish behavior humans are prone to from time to time? Is this a person trying to find his or her way in life and making mistakes that caused your pain or is he or she a trusted figure who took advantage of you? Have you wronged people, intentionally or not, in the same manner? Or is the offense so far beyond anything you would ever do to another human being that you can't relate at all? On your personal scale, was the act in question an infraction, misdemeanor or felony? Are you prepared to be judged as harshly as you're judging others? How often do you have to interact with the person who hurt you? When you see this person — as you inevitably will if he or she lives in this same small town and shares social media — do you feel annoyance or fear? Do you simply shake your head and cross the street or does your stomach clench so hard you think you might have to lean over and vomit into the gutter? (Or, as a friend of mine suggested, "Do you want to just stab this person in the face over and over until bone fragments are flying through the air like confetti and all signs of life have vanished from his [or her] goddamn eyeballs?")

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