Forgiveness Is Overrated


I grew up, like a lot of other people, constantly being taught to forgive and forget. Forgiveness was the most important thing, they said, and it’s up to you to be the bigger person. People make mistakes. If you’re religious, forgive 77 times. It’s a noble concept, really. A sign of virtue. Turn the other cheek, and all that.


I’m here to argue that’s all a load of crap. (Mostly.)


Listen, I’ll get right to it: kids, especially little girls, are taught the value of forgiveness over and over and over, and while it can be a very great thing (I’m not arguing to never forgive anyone, ever!), it also has this unanticipated side effect of breeding a generation of doormats for others to walk on. 


How many of you have memories of telling a teacher or parent that another kid was mean to you, only for them to tell you to forgive and forget, or not to let them “get a rise out of you”?


Yeah. Can you see how this dynamic naturally lends itself to becoming toxic?


Don’t get me wrong, forgiving a wrongdoing and moving on WITHOUT letting grudges fester is very healthy. However, getting too comfortable in that habit can lead to completely missing red flags like patterns of unhealthy behavior.


There’s a lot more to explore with this topic in general; I’ve only skimmed the surface thus far, but the main point I want to make is to reassure you that you don’t have to forgive everybody. You don’t have to resolve every conflict. Some relationships may be too far gone already- sometimes you just decide your mental health would be better off cutting this person out of your life, and people will inevitably try to shame you for that choice but they are wrong.


I could go on and on forever about this and all the different scenarios in which it should or shouldn’t be applied, but the bottom line is:


Only you know what’s best for you.


Don’t ever let anyone tell you otherwise, and if the cycle of forgiving and forgetting is starting to make you feel like someone’s personal doormat, then let me pop in with your daily reminder: it’s okay if you don’t want to forgive someone, just for now or even forever.