What does forgiveness mean and what doesn’t it mean? There are so many myths and misconceptions of forgiveness that deter people from wanting to forgive. I wanted to clear some things up in hopes of opening your eyes to forgiveness and making the process a little easier for you or someone you could be helping through the process. Here are three myths and misconceptions of forgiveness I find to be brought up the most:
MYTH 1: Forgiving means you are condoning bad behavior.
This myth is a huge barrier to forgiveness for many. Why would you want to forgive someone, because then they will get the idea that what they did was okay? That actually isn’t the case. Part of the process of forgiving is letting the other party know what they did wrong or how they offended you. Make sure they understand that what they did was not okay and that you are holding them accountable for their actions as they should hold themselves accountable too. Forgiving someone does not condone bad behavior. It points it out and allows you to free yourself of any negative emotion that comes with the pain and regret from the other person’s actions.
MYTH 2: Forgiving means that you have to forget the pain you were caused.
Ever heard the saying, “Forgive and forget?” I’m sure you have. I’m not a big fan of this common phrase because if we forget what happened to us and what caused us pain, then how are we supposed to learn and grow from a situation and experience. Furthermore, “forgetting” the pain you were caused isn’t healthy, as you are basically just burying it deep down and ignoring it. You will have a wound that turns into a scar from that pain for the rest of your life. It will make you stronger if you acknowledge that it is there and that it always will be. Forgive and move on. Don’t erase the memory, just let it be a part of your story and your past.
MYTH 3: If you forgive a person or situation, you have to be friends with them again.
This myth is definitely not true. You can reconcile with someone if you want, but it doesn’t have to be part of forgiveness. Simply forgive them for your own peace of mind, but don’t feel like you have to let that person into your life again. That is why we can forgive those who have passed, people in prison, and those we don’t want in our lives anymore. Make your intentions clear to both yourself and the person you are forgiving. Let them know if you are forgiving them because you want to have them in your life again or because you need to forgive them in order to move on with your life.
Hopefully, this cleared up some of your misconceptions of forgiveness. Forgive for your own well-being. Don’t do it for someone else.