Forgiveness - Your Agenda or Theirs?
I am often troubled by positive mantras that pop up every so often encouraging “forgiveness” as the path to emotional freedom from past hurts and traumas. For many people, forgiveness is simply not an option and despite the so-called alternative meaning within psychology - as no longer allowing someone or something to control our thoughts and actions (as opposed to the religious suggestion).... it's a practise that not only leads people to confuse forgiveness with healing but also, risks sending a message that whatever happened can all be dealt with quite easily.
In reality, "forgiveness" can leave thoughts and feelings buried inside; de-pressed and unheard - often for years - in an effort to "move on" and/or "get over it" - to please other people usually. Unresolved feelings however will always find an alternative outlet through (for example), anger, fear, anxiety or self-harm if they cannot be expressed verbally. For some people, thoughts and feelings remain de-pressed for so long.... that we lose touch with how, when or why things became difficult.... often leading to labels and/or medication for depression and personality disorders instead.... and leaving space for blame, shame or guilt to grow in their wake.
Integrative psychotherapy looks at the root cause(s) of past hurts and traumas from within a safe and supportive environment; exploring, understanding and acknowledging how thoughts, behaviour patterns and responses evolved and validating them – long before working to adapt learned responses in the present (CBT).
Forgiveness has no place in this process (in my opinion) – unless it involves forgiving yourself for carrying the heavy burden of misplaced blame, shame or guilt around for so long.... but healing from the inside out does.... and this involves being heard.