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As somebody who's struggling to forgive somebody who's wronged me, I find this article to be a bit wishy-washy, like this:

> Reexamine your perceptions of life events that have trapped you in the role of victim.

well, what if somebody really truly was a victim? What if one's parents have condescended and belittled them for decades? What if one's mother is abusive and drinks too much? What if somebody spent their entire childhood planning their escape from their parents (successfully!)

That kind of stuff doesn't just go away. Is it even possible to forgive somebody who honestly doesn't think they've done anything wrong?




You caught yourself in a trap (similar to which I also did).

Yes, your parents were assholes. What has to be realized is that yes: your parents were assholes and this probably did had a (severly) negative effect in your PRACTICAL life.

But what must be understood is that what is done is done. This doesn't meat that you say "my parents are ok". This means that you, on a deep level, realize that your parents have issues, and that those issues caused them to act out. In other words: they didn't knew any better.

The side effect of their issues was that your life was misarable, so you moved away from them.

What has to be understood is that yes, you indeed were at a disadvantage. But now that you moved away it's only up to you what you make of this. You don't have to visit them or call them.

What is meant by "forgiveness" is that you have to realize that "yes, your parents have issues and there is nothing that can be done about it. But now I'm free of them, so from now on it's up to me".

Forgiveness also means that you don't actively hate on your parents: ironicaly hating your parents will NOT hurt them: you will only hurt yourself by hating on them because you yourself will create self-conflit & rage & hate withing YOURLSEF.

So it's more of a "what happened happened, I'm free of them now so from now on it's up to me" + the realization that actively hating on them will only hurt you, not them!


But you're not free until you deal with the PTSD, and a trite "I forgive you" is absolutely no help with this. Nor is pretending to everyone - including yourself - that you're just fine with the past when you really aren't.

Worse, it implies a social pressure to "just deal with it" which is completely inappropriate and can be actively harmful.

Good therapists and good therapy can help a lot. The modality doesn't matter as long as it's clearly being helpful.

But cliches about forgiveness are utterly unhelpful to most people who were exposed to real emotional and psychological harm - whether it was a random drive-by crime, a work situation, a toxic relationship, or dysfunctional family dynamics.


> Nor is pretending to everyone - including yourself - that you're just fine with the past when you really aren't.

I don’t think forgiveness is about pretending you are fine with something you are not fine with. It isn’t about covering something up or lying. It is about taking back control of your feelings about the situation so that you can move toward a place of healing. Most people have suffered some form of trauma in their lives, and some choose to dwell on it while looking for the person or situation that brought that trauma to apologize or try to make the situation right. This is giving control of your feelings over to some third party. Forgiveness is saying “I am releasing my own need for you to be part of my healing journey.”


This is well said. I think some people view this as liberating themselves, and some people view this as letting the offender get away with it.

For me personally, it feels oppressive to require anything from the person who wronged me. The fact that they wronged me indicates that perhaps they don't value my happiness as much as they should, and now my happiness is predicated on them acting the right way?

This isn't to say I wouldn't try to, say, get my money back if I got scammed, but making my happiness contingent on the contrition of the scammer seems to give them emotional control in addition to my money, which is even worse.


“ For me personally, it feels oppressive to require anything from the person who wronged me. The fact that they wronged me indicates that perhaps they don't value my happiness as much as they should, and now my happiness is predicated on them acting the right way?”

Thanks for that. That is a powerful thought and did help me right now.


>a trite "I forgive you"

A trite "I forgive you" isnt forgiveness. Forgiveness is a virtue, which means not everybody has it, or can do it. Forgiveness is not "forgiving" someone that didn't actually wrong you. Forgiveness is not pretending to let go but holding on. Forgiveness is not telling the other person they are forgiven, so the weight is off their shoulders. Forgiveness IS "dealing with the PTSD", letting go, and if the issue is caused by someone else, feeling pity on or happiness for them.

>Worse, it implies a social pressure to "just deal with it"

Letting go, and bottling up are two opposites. The latter is not forgiveness.

Wikipedia:

>Forgiveness is the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, and overcomes negative emotions such as resentment and vengeance.

>But cliches about forgiveness

Misunderstandings of cliches make it seem as if the act is something anybody can do at any time, and not a skill people learn or build through practice. Forgiveness is both the knowledge that "letting this bother me will cause me more hurt in the long run, I need to find a way to overcome it, to prevent myself from causing me more damage" and the ability to execute on that knowledge.


So not only must we let those who wrong us off the hook and feel for them, if we can't it's because we aren't virtuous enough.

I'm perfectly comfortable ignoring that moral claim.

If people want to talk about letting go, talk about letting go. Talk of forgiveness is simply misleading.


>If people want to talk about letting go, talk about letting go. Talk of forgiveness is simply misleading.

That is what forgiveness is, moving on, but not bottling it up or pretending it didn't happen.

>Forgiveness is different from condoning (failing to see the action as wrong and in need of forgiveness), excusing (not holding the offender as responsible for the action), forgetting (removing awareness of the offense from consciousness), pardoning (granted for an acknowledged offense by a representative of society, such as a judge), and reconciliation (restoration of a relationship).

Forgiveness is more like pity. Understanding the environment around a persons life led them to do what they did, maybe feeling bad for them, that thats who they are. Reaching a state of forgiveness does not mean you think they no longer hold responsibility for what they did, or that they should be excused from consequences. You can forgive someone (no longer allow their action hurt you) AND still pursue consequences for their actions.


Exactly. There is the case where the person who has given offense sincerely offers an apology, having become aware of their wrong, with an affect of proportionate contrition. The injured party might now deem to forgive them, and restore the offender's previous status in the relationship--e.g. as a friend, good neighbor, etc.

Redefining "forgiveness" from this bilateral way that we have come to traditionally understand it, into this unilateral context of letting go, not only makes language poorer (through dilution in its explanatory power), but also diminishes the bonds of society, which are preserved through various relationship mechanisms including apology and forgiveness (which serves as an improvement over having a physical altercation on the one hand, and an abandonment of relationship on the other).


>Redefining "forgiveness" from this bilateral way

I would argue that the bilateral requirement is the redefinition. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forgiveness

"In most contexts, forgiveness is granted without any expectation of restorative justice, and without any response on the part of the offender (for example, one may forgive a person who is incommunicado or dead)."

>The injured party might now deem to forgive them, and restore the offender's previous status in the relationship--e.g. as a friend, good neighbor, etc.

That is more than forgiveness. It is reconciliation.


It's not just about restoring the previous status (actually, you rarely can't). It's sometimes about strengthening that relationship. It changes it anyway, not necessarily in a bad way.


This is true. No one was ever helper just because society said to him "do it".

Which is why it must proceed through "understanding": you must clearly see the sitation for what it is, from both perspectives: yours and theirs.

The ego can get locked in a victim mentality and this will blind you from being able to see the truth about the situation.


This.

So many here have not had to deal with extensive emotional trauma brought upon manipulations, oversights, ignorance, inexperience, etc. of a parent who was totally a victim too, but THIS DOES NOT NEGATE HOW DANGEROUS they can be.

My own mother whom was beaten and abused by an alcoholic grandmother will tragically never be capable of seeing her own faults due to the trauma that basically arrested her development at the age of 12. She has NPD and persistently bullied one of my sisters for being fat as a child, despite being the parent who kept feeding her McDonalds.

She would never admit how wrong they are to their own assumptions. She bullied and belittled my step-father when he had a medical emergency that forced him back into the family house after years of “mutual” separation.

I eventually figured out she had been lying to me for years and using my “blood relation” as an excuse to triangulate and manipulate my siblings into hating me, and me hating them, with disinfo, seperate sit downs like she was a fucking Mafioso, and other tactics a sick child would make in attempts to show that they “care”.

If you bring 9/11 up, there’s a good chance a histrionic anecdote that has nothing to do with the conversation at hand will pop-up and it will be about her, you will have to shut the fuck up while listening despite yourself being interrupted mid-sentence, otherwise speaking out against a narcissist is forbidden, and eggshell walking is the norm during rare get togethers.

She will instantly fall into victim and paranoid mode if challenged in any reasonable way: you don't really love her if you keep having issues with her behavior RIGHT?! So goes the maddening Cartesian logic.

And yet, according to this article, I should just “let go” of the following: anxiety disorder, binge eating / anorexia, depression, BPD w/ NPD CPTSD features (latest opinion I’ve received at least), the alienation of my family caused by the mother driving everyone apart, and most importantly the distortion lens that comes with being raised and essentially spoiled compared to my siblings, the emotional incest brought upon me when my step-father left at the age of 13 because I was the only man of the house and I guess that also meant hearing intimate details of love lost and her being unhappy and being treated like a therapist for the next 12 years until I was 25, wherein I became so maladaptiveley schizoid while dealing with the persistient and obvious fact that ONE OF MY CARGIVERS WAS ACTIVLEY NOT CARING AND BEING DESTRUCTIVE.

To her credit, she rarely lifted her hand to hit us; lot of reflexes and close calls that are then always minimized as “not that bas” and “you should try growing up in my life, you kids are lucky!!!!” which somehow justifies further incursions because shit, she doesn't drink and is disabled, she must be a fucking Saint in comparison to her mother, especially because of being physically disabled.

She loves to fall on the sword in a conversation about that all of the time. We have only the best parts of Mother Sorporano & Mussolini to thank for this.

She also “forgave” her mother and now all that my grandmother does is fill my mothers head with Trump garbage and YouTube conspiracies that I have to disassemble because she thought bleaching the skin would help against COVID.

So again, forgiveness is fucking trite. Anger about the situation as an adult helped me change my approach and saved me from a further path of self-destructive solipsism and drinking my trauma away excessively.

Anger as a kid was less useful and Was turned inside until another counselor at high school realized what was happening, which sadly didn't help as I quit the school in protest / denial of the chemical and emotional imbalanced brought upon me and my siblings by persistent emotional abuse and neglect.

In sum, she is emotionally manipulative and a vampire, and WHILE her maladaptions make sense in a shitty environment, at some point as an adult you have to take ownership of trauma or it will eat you alive. She will never reach the point of self-actualization and its tragic that she is the only mother my siblings and I will have known.

My sisters and father also deserved so much better than me being an unwitting victim and enforcer of her bullshit when I was too young to know better.

So I agree with any other posts that might more or less say: “fuck forgiveness.”


That must hurt just to talk about. You're lucky to be able to 'bring it out'. I can feel (sort of) what you feel, from experience.

I'm still stuck on 'someone has to pay' and 'it's not fair' although I know these are childish hopes. Pay how... They don't even remember. They don't give a shit. You can pity (they're sick, they did their best) but it gets worse. now you have no-one to blame... No enemy. Left with undirected, unfocused anger.

Oh and the anger on the other parent figures around 'I had no idea', 'I didn't know it was this bad'. WTF?

Forgiveness is hard. Grief is hard. Some of us have a very hard time letting go of those feelings. I can't do those yet. I can't let go of lots of things. I have an unforgiving memory for hurt and it prompts System 1 almost every day, to be on my guard, that something is fishy, I'm about to be hurt. False alarm 99% of the time. Can't work much on forgiveness when you're in survival mode...

I feel for you.

I hope we can both move on one day. Dog knows I'm trying. The anger is not good for your health, I'm learning now...

Be well.


Even if you do not want a relationship with someone, forgiveness is a way to feel better yourself. It's not about making some one else better, it's about your quality of life.

After ten years I'm almost there, but it got better after my first step of deciding to forgive, still get panic attacks though.


I forgive myself for being naive and uninformed. Why would I need to forgive myself for someone else's actions and consequences? Fuck all of that.

I sleep more soundly with each day that I remind myself "This other person does not live in reality, move on". Long stopped having "panic attacks" 10 years ago. Coincidentally, right around the time I began to question the abuser's facade.

And you do want a relationship with these people. But ideally one that doesn't make you want to stab your eyes out constantly with ice picks because they keep digging up the past and weaponizing your own failures against you in everyday fucking conversation.

Peace be with whatever nonsense you're on about. Reason, rationality, empiricism is what brought clarity. Forgiveness is low hanging rotten fruit.


>"This other person does not live in reality, move on".

That is basically forgiveness. It's not a gift you give them, its not letting them off the hook. To forgive someone, they do not need to be aware you have done so. It's you taking control of the damage they did to you, and moving beyond it hurting you further.


Perhaps. I disagree with the general assumption associated with notions of forgiveness that this also means letting go of anger, however. Anger gets shit done.


>notions of forgiveness that this also means letting go of anger, however. Anger gets shit done.

Thats ok, and it's not forgiveness then. It's your choice to hold on to your anger, if you find it has purpose.


Can you e-mail me? I am coming up with a theory of emotion/personality and have some questions. Address in profile.


I get your point, but I don't get how it diverges from what was described in the article. Based on what you wrote, it looks to me that you are actually very advanced in the process of forgiveness: telling your story, expressing your feelings, seeing your childhood through the eyes of yourself as an adult, focusing on your well-being in the present and in the future.

> they keep digging up the past and weaponizing your own failures against you in everyday fucking conversation.

I know that. You have no idea how much your post hits home. This kind of behaviour is exactly what I try not to replicate, because it is the best way to dig one's own grave. There is nothing good which can come out of it.

I think you have an issue with the word "forgiveness", and maybe it is not the right word. What I understand from its use in the article is being able to let go the hatred (way stronger than anger), and being able to focus on yourself in order to improve your well-being and to bring positivity into your present and future life.


The article is wrong, then, IMO. And so is the author's main reference for the article, Ana Holub:

>https://anaholub.awakemedia.com/about/

Not a single PhD, degree, etc listed. A track record yes, but Pepsi and Coke both have their consumers despite anyone's individual preference over the other.

Sorry but hatred is a perfectly rational thing to feel towards an abuser. Letting it motivate you to take retributive action is of course not something to do if one wants to escape the cycle of abuse, but regardless: the body keeps the score https://www.amazon.com/Body-Keeps-Score-Healing-Trauma/dp/01...


What ever works for you! But this describes my life:

> Fear leads to hate and hate leads to the darkside.

Is true for me, I understood that I can never feel good hating someone. Because every time I came in contact physicaly or mentally, I felt worse.


I wonder how widespread this is under the radar. It seems like something people don't really talk about.


People are just afraid to recognize facets of human behavior that they don't see as normal. When people talk about schizophrenia they might say it's "difficult" or there's no easy solution or that they're still thinking about how to heal them, but the reality is that maybe these people can never be completely helped in a lifetime, to the point where they're accepted as "normal" again. Maybe there are some classes of neurodegenerative brain disorders where the tissue allowing for fudamental human capability is gone forever, and the functionality can never be fully restored. On one hand we strive to treat everyone equally, on the other some people will end up giving up on their dreams because those dreams will never be within their ability. Or, far more devastating, they will stop being able to realize they could even have dreams to begin with. I remember reading about the tragedy of the co-founder of Cloudflare, and the top comment by a person featured in the article that said there was nothing more to be done for his condition. And it was that much more painful because everyone believed he was still "normal" for the longest time, that his behavior could be explained in terms of human sociability or wit, until they realized that the only reason he acted the way he did was because of an underlying condition of the brain.

https://www.wired.com/story/lee-holloway-devastating-decline...

Is a certain degree of extreme childhood trauma simply a fork in the road in a person's life that is never completely reversible? Does that kind of harm cause the person to be trapped in their own mind with the mental damage it causes? I personally believe it can in some cases. There is only so much you can do if you have the mental equivalent of your limbs being dismembered.

If my definition of "forgiveness" is giving someone else something of mine, then there are some people I will never forgive so long as I'm alive.

But if forgiveness is just acknowledging mistakes and moving on, never letting them take anything more from me, then I've completely forgiven them instead.

But that doesn't sound like forgiveness to me.


>Is a certain degree of extreme childhood trauma simply a fork in the road in a person's life that is never completely reversible? Does that kind of harm cause the person to be trapped in their own mind with the mental damage it causes? I personally believe it can in some cases. There is only so much you can do if you have the mental equivalent of your limbs being dismembered.

This accurately describes having an attachment disorder from early age methinks, and the fork being realizing it after examining the evidence or never realizing it and being stuck in a hell of self-blame.

An attachment disorder feels like the organ for interpersonal relationships is impaired or amputated, and it occasionally feels like having emotional schizophrenia, particularly when one is triggered.

>If my definition of "forgiveness" is giving someone else something of mine, then there are some people I will never forgive so long as I'm alive.

>But if forgiveness is just acknowledging mistakes and moving on, never letting them take anything more from me, then I've completely forgiven them instead.

>But that doesn't sound like forgiveness to me.

100% this. Much more succinct than my anecdote.


I suspect a lot of my millennial peers deal with it a lot.

Many of us made "surrogate families" and group houses well into our 30's out of our groups of friends probably for similar reasons. A few grew apart for similar reasons (i.e. one or more people having un-diagnosed personality disorders and/or un-dealt with emotional trauma that hampers their interpersonal relationships).


Recently mother showed up unannounced at my house in tears and SCREAMED at my wife and I for HOURS and wouldn't leave. It was an absolute ambush. The reason? She wanted to get together earlier in the day but we had an appointment so we had to postpone it to later in the day. yes, that's all it takes.

Our son was TEN DAYS OLD at the time. That was 18 months ago.

Since then she's been the nastiest, most unpleasant person to be around and my father is condescending as hell and still tries to boss me around at 35 years old.

This doesn't really feel like a "the past is the past, people have flaws". This more feels like an assault on my day-to-day life.

It has been like this since I was a kid and I see not even the slightest bit of progress or self-reflection. When do I just call it quits?


> When do I just call it quits?

If your partner's mom was treating them this way, or if your son was being treated this way, when would you want them to call it quits?

I know you well enough to feel good about making a suggestion, but I can share my data point: I called it quits with one of my parents after putting up some boundaries (~"I love you but it doesn't feel good when you call and text me every few hours or unexpected show up at my work") and they responded very negatively.

My metric: if anyone (from a total stranger to a romantic partner) ever talked to me that way, I'd cut contact immediately. We have no obligation to be outlets for abusive behavior. I'm probably going to talk to a therapist about it because I want to make sure I'm covering all my bases, but most of the time it feels like a net positive to have called it quits.

I hope you can find some peace and balance, with or without the relationship with your mom. I'll be thinking of you, and I'm happy to chat if you're ever looking for perspective from the other side of the fence.

Also: https://old.reddit.com/r/raisedbynarcissists


> When do I just call it quits?

Ten years ago. The second best time is right now. You do not have to take abuse from them because they are family. "the past is the past, people have flaws" is only valid for things that are actually in the past. Sounds like your parents' abuse would be much easier to deal with if it was a part of the past.


Why not move and call it quits? That might actually enable you to forgive them (from afar). Calling it quits was the first step in my forgiveness towards my parents. You could send them occasional updates but you shouldn't feel like you're obligated to otherwise engage (at least for a period of like 6 months - and then reevaluate).


Sounds like she is constantly violating your boundaries. Based on the abusive behavior of the past, it seems like you're also enabling the bad behavior. When dealing with adults, put clear boundaries in place (don't come to my house unannounced, don't scream at my wife, nor come in my home to scream, etc) and if she violates your boundaries, then give her a timeout (she's not allowed to see me/my family/my child for a week).

If it's egregious, you'll need to cut her out permanently. I had to with my mother. (P.S. I've also forgiven her [I hold no grudge towards her and her shitty/abusive decisions throughout my childhood] but...she's still not in my life)


Establish firm boundaries and, if they're transgressed, cut off your parents. Period. Zero contact, even if they show up on your front door screaming.

For me, it was the most difficult thing I'd ever done. The benefits for you and your family though are worth fighting for and it's the only way you might have some semblance of a relationship with your parents in the future. You don't deserve that treatment.

The book Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life by Henry Cloud and John Townsend is what helped me work through this. It's definitely written for people who are Christians, but I've heard secular people recommend it heavily.

Finally, seek a therapist. If you're like me, you've been broken in ways you can't even identify and a professional will help you work through that.

Good luck


Get yourself a restraining order.

And no, this is not an exageration.

Threaten her that she will never she her grandchildren again.

It's not your responsibility to try and help your mother.

The need/willingness for change has to come from her. If she won't even consider that it might be her fault and not yours she is a loss cause.

Until she realize this she is a lost cause and you are doing yourself a disfavor by guilt-tripping over her letting her upset your life.


Don’t threaten them if you don’t mean do it.

Really. A baseless threat will put your mother in the role of the victim—and the power of the victim role will let her throw more abuse on you. She will feel entitled to say nasty things.

Getting the restraining order or some similar action that cuts her off is what will free you from the role of the victim. From this place you can take pity on her. You have taken action to eliminate the oppressor. Maybe more will be needed. If you are ever so frustrated as to feel helpless about doing that “more which might be needed” then you are back at victim.

Good luck!

PPS — look up the drama triangle and the corresponding empowerment triangle. Might be useful ;)


Unfortunately, narcissists will never learn and any and all problems are because others are the problem unless a truly catastrophic event forced a major reality check on them given what I’ve read so far. Even on a relative scale of attempting to self-reflect they’ll believe they’re “compromising” when it’s not really helpful.

It may be helpful to view narcissists as having a mental disability rather than it being simply a part of their personality. And when people are destructive to others’ lives few cultures would say we should accommodate the minority to a fault.


Cut them out. You are forcing yourself into victimhood by including them in your life.


I'll have to disagree with that. I cut out a bunch of toxic people from my life and moved across the country and I still hate them but people like them don't come across my mind at all unless mutual acquaintances bring them up. I even came across my bully from middle school in a random city I visited, and had drinks with him and his girlfriend that he was calling a retard throughout the whole night and was clear that he was being abusive to her. Do I forgive him? no, especially since he never apologized. But I'm free from these people now too and I get Schadenfreude whenever i hear about their misfortunes in life and see it as karma.

what you are describing is not forgiveness. It's called moving on.


> Do I forgive him? no, especially since he never apologized. what you are describing is not forgiveness. It's called moving on.

Forgiveness is moving on. It is letting go of your negative emotions. Needing someone else to apologize to "give forgiveness" is not how forgiveness needs to work.


If that person hears that they have been forgiven, how do you think that will guide their future actions?

There's a big gap in all the highly psychologized/desocialized talk of forgiveness in this discussion. That is one of its problems.


>If that person hears that they have been forgiven

Because its something private with yourself, I dont see it necessary as something to share for it to happen. Forgiving someone without telling them will change your interactions with them, but you dont need to tell them youve done so for it to be forgiveness.


i moved on with my life without forgiving someone. someone apologizing for what they did is the first step to forgiveness. You can't forgive someone who feels no remorse for what they did. They used to be part of my life now they are insignificant. Seems like your definition of forgiveness is different from mine.


>You can't forgive someone who feels no remorse for what they did.

Yes you can. "I am beyond this event." Making forgiveness contingent on someone elses action removes your own agency. Forgiveness isnt a gift you give someone else.


>Making forgiveness contingent on someone elses action removes your own agency.

says who? Never said forgiveness is a gift. You you have to earn it. One has to be deserving of it. In fact what everyone seems to be saying here makes it sound like it should be a gift, given with no conditions.


>You you have to earn it. One has to be deserving of it.

That removes your agency. You can't forgive without getting something from them first. If they never give, you never forgive, and you continue to live with the hurt.

Making forgiveness contingent on deserving, earning, or being worthy of it is something else entirely. The other person need not be involved in forgiveness in any way.

A gift is something you give someone else. Saying "they dont deserve it" implies you seeing it as something you give someone else. Forgiveness is only between you and yourself.


> That removes your agency...........land you continue to live with the hurt.

My agency is from moving on not based on forgiveness. you can't just blanket classify everyone's hurtfulness. Sometimes even after you forgive someone you're still going to continue to live in hurt. other times you can move on and not forgive someone and not be hurt anymore. It has nothing to do with forgiveness. Moving on is part of and a prerequisite for forgiveness, but not the other way around.

> The other person need not be involved in forgiveness in any way..... Forgiveness is only between you and yourself.

yep that is all true. and me and myself thinks that guy doesn't deserve forgiveness. I'm not losing sleep over it or suffering in anyway. Simply I don't associate myself with that person anymore and not have them be part of my life. Even if I forgive someone I don't tell them.

People in this thread seems to have different definitions of forgiveness and mix up acceptance/moving on with actual forgiveness of someones actions.


>Sometimes even after you forgive someone you're still going to continue to live in hurt.

No, that would not be forgiveness. Forgiveness is you overcoming the negative emotion.

>other times you can move on and not forgive someone and not be hurt anymore.

That would be forgiveness.

>Simply I don't associate myself with that person anymore

That would be a lack of reconciliation. Reconciliation is not a requirement of forgiveness.

What you are describing is either excusing or pardoning.

>Moving on is part of and a prerequisite for forgiveness, but not the other way around.

There are multiple ways to move on, including forgetting.

I am generally a descriptivist. I acknowledge there is a second definition of forgiveness that is incompatible and mutually exclusive with the first, and that many people commonly use the word that way. That second definition however does not invalidate the concept of Forgiveness, with a capital F. It doesn't erase the first meaning of the world. I am not going to call it "misuse of a word" but the word is being used extremely loosely to describe other concepts that have other defined words. In this case, precision and clarity are required in conversation, and using definition two to have a conversation about the meaning of the concept in definition one, becomes a circular argument.


> Forgiveness is you overcoming the negative emotion

no its not

>other times you can move on and not forgive someone and not be hurt anymore.

no its not, its called moving on

> That would be a lack of reconciliation. Reconciliation is not a requirement of forgiveness.

no forgiveness is between yourself so reconciliation has nothing to do with it.

> There are multiple ways to move on, including forgetting.

yep and forgiveness is one way to move on. but moving on is not forgiveness.


> You can't forgive someone who feels no remorse for what they did.

Why not?


cause they don't deserve it


Haha, yeah, that doesn't sound bitter and hateful at all.


This sounds like "You're just bitter and hateful!", but with sarcasm mixed in.

That you can put a label on an emotion doesn't make it go away, nor does it make the emotion unreasonable. It does make you look like an asshole without any empathy, though.


not denying that part. And i have no problem with it since it doesn't control or take up my life. I'm happier now that I cut those people out and watched some of them get what they deserve. Go tell someone who is happy that the person who murdered their sibling got what they deserved that they are bitter and hateful.


> ... so from now on it's up to me

It's... not that easy. We're all wired a little differently and trauma twists that wiring even more. Some people are less resilient than others and need more help moving on. This is not a condemnation of those people. It's an acknowledgment that trauma has a real and different affect on people and we should treat individual needs.


A mantra that I like: “It's not your fault, but it's your responsibility to try to fix things.”


Why do you assume his/her parents didn't know any better? Some people really are selfish and malicious. You're going out of your way to assume the best when you don't actually have any reason to believe that's true.


There's a general sentiment that all dogs are innocent at heart. If the dog has bad or mean behavior, that's the consequence of its bad experiences, like being outcast as a stray, bad owners, having been hurt before, etc.

You can apply the same line of thinking to humans. Everyone is a victim of their circumatances and experiences.

And while I understand that "everyone is innocent at heart" might be true to only some degree both with humans and dogs (nature vs nurture, etc), you can't really tell by the end result.


Even if they are born that way you can still look upon them with pity. They didn't choose their parents and they didn't choose how the wiring of their brain.


But aren't you just redefining terms? I'm wary whenever someone says "I really mean X when I say Y." Why not just say Y in the first place?


It's a valid feeling to believe your parents either did know better or should have known better. And that also does not preclude forgiveness.


I think C.S. Lewis does a good job explaining what forgiveness really means:

“For a good many people imagine that forgiving your enemies means making out that they are really not such bad fellows after all, when it is quite plain that they are. Go a step further. In my most clear- sighted moments not only do I not think myself a nice man, but I know that I am a very nasty one. I can look at some of the things I have done with horror and loathing. So apparently I am allowed to loathe and hate some of the things my enemies do. Now that I come to think of it, I remember Christian teachers telling me long ago that I must hate a bad man's actions, but not hate the bad man: or, as they would say, hate the sin but not the sinner.

For a long time I used to think this a silly, straw-splitting distinction: how could you hate what a man did and not hate the man? But years later it occurred to me that there was one man to whom I had been doing this all my life—namely myself. However much I might dislike my own cowardice or conceit or greed, I went on loving myself. There had never been the slightest difficulty about it. In fact the very reason why I hated the things was that I loved the man. Just because I loved myself, I was sorry to find that I was the sort of man who did those things.

Consequently, Christianity does not want us to reduce by one atom the hatred we feel for cruelty and treachery. We ought to hate them. Not one word of what we have said about them needs to be unsaid. But it does want us to hate them in the same way in which we hate things in ourselves: being sorry that the man should have done such things, and hoping, if it is anyway possible, that somehow, sometime, somewhere, he can be cured and made human again.”


Thanks for this quote. Well said, and poignant. I aspire to one day speak English real good.


I certainly agree; the signal to noise ratio is poor about why this stuff is a good idea. But it does get at some practical issues that are quite subtly layered:

1. Be realistic about what is likely to happen. If someone has a history of drinking and hasn't committed to stopping then they will probably continue. 'Forgiveness' doesn't mean stupid.

2. Don't make the past emotional. If someone chopped my leg off, for a silly example, then there is nothing I can do. Revenge does not regain me my leg. Seeking vengeance for the emotional pleasure is tragic; if a matter must be pursued then it should be to prevent a future risk (eg, losing the other leg) or for meaningful restitution (maybe they provide income for me since I can't work as effectively).

3. Strive to create prosperity. If someone hurt me in the past and I have an opportunity to better us both, it is foolish not to take that opportunity unless they are likely to do future harm.

4. Negotiate terms - keep asking for what you want, and be strategic about what you give ground on.

Bundle those four things together and the result is a very productive perspective that is hard to differentiate from forgiveness. The past is ultimately subjective and people who make good decisions going forward will get better results than people who make bad decisions and justify them with history. It is hard in practice.


Revenge is underrated. The opportunities to avenge oneself without also shooting oneself in the foot, or entering an endless cycle of reciprocal vendettas, are very rare. But when they do come, the closure is liberating.


I also don’t buy the narrative of “nobody intends to be mean they just don’t know any better”. This line is popular in management and self help circles and I feel these people haven’t rubbed shoulders with true evil and frankly are ignorant.

I prefer to think of forgiveness as releasing one’s attachment to the trauma and leaving those folk to stew in their own poison while moving onwards and upwards.


This is one major drawback writing an article about forgiveness and only interviewing authors of self-help books. Whatever it says, right or wrong, it can’t be of much help to someone who is in a situation like you described. Forgiveness, reconciliation, or even just dealing with hurt, are all easier said than done.

I wonder it would be more helpful to interview someone who has been through something hard and actually decided to forgive. For example, maybe one of the victims’ family members in https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.washingtonpost.com/news/pos...

Even so, no one article or book can truly “solve” or “fix” pain, so we would be wise to carefully consider our words. Calling forgiveness “a simple solution to all your problems” (https://www.radicalforgiveness.com/) feels condescending. Even if the statement is true, how would someone who is facing real hurt see that statement?


Because its about you not them. It doesn't matter what they think or do. You should do it for yourself to set yourself free of emotional baggage.

Just because you forgive someone does not mean you suddenly think he is a great person, or should forget that he is abusive. Its saying I am done with all this shit. "you" (whomever wronged you) are not worth my time hating you.

At least that worked for me.


Pretty much all actual examples in article are of the "you interpret it wrong" sort.

> A situation you may have misinterpreted as a child can taint your important adult relationships, Kennedy says.

This does not say you should free yourself of hate despite them being wrong. This says, hey, maybe it happened differently. What if I did not misinterpreted it as a child? Or as an adult? What if it is one of those very real situations where you was not stupid, but someone really harassed you, took credit for your work, whatever.

The article does not deal with such situation, rather, it wants you to convince yourself it did not happened.


Forgiveness has become yet another external demand, same as the duty to feel gratitude. The important thing is to work through, then let go and move on. Forgiveness might be part of that process, but it doesn't need to be. It might as well include confrontation, or even a little bit of revenge.


I think the part you're missing is this passage

> soul-level letting-go of our pain, our sorrow, our suffering," Holub says. "And we do that because we want to be free.

I'm not saying that it's easy or something you may want to do, but it will end up improving your life.

Personally I'm in a similar situation to the one you presented, with the overbearing insensitive parent. It's difficult to say that I've forgiven them, but it's a slow process of trying to rid my life of their influence and shedding that negativity and their nagging voice in the back of my head. The forgiveness isn't seeking reconciliation with them, but resolving the blame and anger you have within yourself directed towards the person in order to free yourself to heal. Of course the person will continue with their actions which will cause it difficult to heal, but I've found the strategy of divorcing emotion to the person helpful. Therefore you can heal yourself of the wounds caused by that person on your own even if the person is still ever present. I can't say this works out all the time, but I do feel myself getting closure without reconciliation.


For me, forgiveness is a way of severing myself from the past. It is a way to stop ruminating in the present. It has saved me from myself.

But it's not abstractly total. Not continuous. Forgiveness is a state I can work myself into. That working-myself-into is often a path toward understanding and empathy. Neither of which I mistake for excusing the behaviors. And when someone doesn't feel they've done anything wrong they're not in the market for forgiveness, so all my forgiveness is for me anyway.

So forgiveness severs the past and lets me move forward in the present and take the future with the understanding I found on my journey to it. The understanding shapes my future interactions and non-interactions with someone I forgive.

Forgiveness isn't trust. It doesn't abolish all the consequences of violating my trust. I've forgiven someone and cut them out of my life. Forgiveness doesn't change my boundaries except in so far as the understanding I've found on the road to it has shown my own unreasonableness.

Good luck.


Reframing the situation from “this happened to me” to “this happened for me” has been the healthiest advice I’ve received for dealing with childhood trauma. It changes the perspective from being a victim to being someone who conquered adversity and used it to (a) not repeat the cycle of abuse, (b) learn about other people and how they can act, and possibly (c) how to be a better person than you otherwise might have been had life been easier.

Depending on your personality the following recommendation may be a huge turnoff, but Tony Robbin’s Netflix documentary “I am Not Your Guru” has a number of examples of reframing situations in this manner.

Good luck and I wish you peace and wellness!


I recently went through therapy for some touch up work. I was getting mad at someone because of their shenanigans. Basically the therapist told me "when someone pisses you off, they want you to get mad, so why would you give them the pleasure of getting mad?" After some discussion on methods for how to not get mad, I stopped getting mad.

Might be worth looking into whether it's worth wasting any brain cycles on whether or not to forgive someone.


The advice I've been given is forgiveness + boundaries.

This book is usually recommended [1], but you can discover your own style of setting boundaries by working with a therapist. (it will need to be tailored to your situation)

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Boundaries-Updated-Expanded-When-Cont...


It also seemed a bit on the side of blaming the victim. It seemed, at least to me, to try very hard to walk the line to try to empower people by saying it isn't their fault you're a victim, it's your fault you're a victim and there's power in that. That seems to pull accountability away from the responsible parties. Though, admittedly, I am biased.


I call this stuff self-gasslighting. You convince yourself that you was at fault for own abuse.


> What if one's parents have condescended and belittled them for decades?

It's all a matter of perspective. You see, one day, your parents will show up at your doorstep and expect you do the mature thing and take care of them in their old age. You could then go off on a long rant, wash all the dirty laundry, and finally slam the door in their face. Or you tell them "I forgive you" and close the door in their face.

That's the power of forgiveness.


> Is it even possible to forgive somebody who honestly doesn't think they've done anything wrong?

The working definition of forgive that I use is 'to give myself as before'. It's a useful test for me, I can just ask if I'm giving myself as I was before. It's not always possible to forgive. And religion makes light of it which causes problems for people that want more than just lip service.


FWIW what the article says about the nature of (most, not all) anger echoes some of the best advice I ever got:

'Holub calls anger a "secondary emotion," one that guards our more vulnerable feelings, such as grief, fear, abandonment and disappointment.'

Most of the time (but not always), anger is a barrier to self-consciousness.


I was in the same boat. I have a book recommendation for you:

https://www.amazon.com/Courage-Be-Disliked-Phenomenon-Happin...


> As somebody who's struggling to forgive somebody who's wronged me,

Not meaning to trivialize your experience, but first sentence right off the bat you identify with your grudge.


Well, you can't forgive people for something they haven't done. It is assumed that there is something to forgive, so no one really questions the wrongdoing. The question is why should it still define the way you look at life, be the starting point of reasoning.




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