The Art of Forgiveness

There are basically two schools of thoughts when it comes to forgiveness. The first one is that it is holy and divine, and we should totally do it. Because we’re nice people. Because we’re supposed to if we’re those nice people we think we are. Because holding grudges is for the Regina Georges of the world or an episode of Gossip Girl.

The second school of thought is that if someone really really fucks you over, you should not forgive them. Not now, not ever. Because they did something awful to you that hurt you really badly. And to remind yourself and them that once upon a time, they behaved horribly and that this is not forgotten.

I understand both, but I didn’t really understand what forgiveness truly was about until someone broke my heart a couple of years ago. While I was getting over it, I convinced myself I should never ever forgive him. In my opinion, there needed to be someone in the world saying “What you did is not okay and I hold you accountable (oh and you’re a dick because of it).” There needed to be a message out in the Universe that wasn’t okay with the way he had treated me. I felt responsible to be that message.

…And then I realized I had more important things to do.

Because forgiving people is not necessarily about them and relieving them of some sort of burden you feel they should have. They might carry that burden with them even when you tell them you’ve forgiven them. They might feel no remorse whatsoever even without your forgiveness. It is not always about them, but it is always about you. Forgiving other people for their mistakes and what they did to you is always best for you, no matter what effect it might have on someone else.

It should be obvious why, but it’s not so let’s talk you through it: You are the one who is most bothered by being angry and vengeful and upset. Nobody else. You. You have to deal with those thoughts, those feelings, that pain. The tightening in your chest whenever you hear their name. That train of thought and those trips down memory lane of how awful it all was. The obsessing and blaming and frustration and anger.

Face it. You are never going to feel your best until you can let go of all that. And even if you feel you have to wait for them to crawl across broken glass and beg for your forgiveness, that moment the forgiveness is still going to have to come from you. But why wait for that moment? It might never come and you’ll be stuck feeling angry and upset. Do you really want that? Why not just cut out the middle man? Why not just do it?

When you let go (or at least work on letting go), that makes you feel better. That makes you lighter, happier. The fact that you‘re going to feel better should be reason enough to practice forgiveness whenever you can.

Do not mistake this forgiveness for that shitty condescending air of “I’ve forgiven you so I am better than you”. That’s not forgiveness, that’s Holier-Than-Thou-But-Secretly-Not-Really. Neither is it the no-backbone ‘it’s okay you treated me terribly let’s just forget about it completely let me get you a sandwich’ type of attitude where you still secretly feel bad, inferior and queazy. That is bullshit.

Forgiveness is ‘hey, you hurt my feelings, I wish you hadn’t, but let’s get past it for the sake of our lives’. Forgiveness is loving yourself enough to let yourself be happy, no matter what someone else might have done in your past. You’ll really be happier when you let go of grudges, forgive the ones who have hurt you and if you can, appreciate what you learnt from them.

There is more to life than standing around with a red sign over your head saying “MY EX WAS A DICK TO ME AND THAT IS NOT OKAY .” Or “THAT ONE GIRL I MET THAT ONE TIME IS SECRETLY A TOTAL BITCH AND THAT IS NOT OKAY”. You can calm the fuck down,  just say ‘that really was not okay’ and still just move on. Because just like me, you have more important things to do than to be mad.

Forgive for you. Because it is good for you. Because it let’s you move on and because it makes you feel happy. Because it focuses you on your future, the positive things in your life. You’re not living this life for anyone but yourself, and the world does not need you plotting revenge because someone stabbed you in the back. The world needs you to be your most wonderful self. And if I can hardly combine it with a social life & laundry, I am pretty sure you won’t be able to balance that shit with your personalized WWIII. So let go. Choose forgiveness.


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. YESSSS so true – all of this. We indeed have more important things to do. And you know what the royal mindfuck is? When you hold a grudge you are the one hurting, not the other person. They probably don’t give a tiny rats ass about your grudge, or otherwise they wouldn’t have screwed you over in the first place.

    When people do truly fucked up stuff its hard to adhere to all of this but I think in cases like that it’s all about decreasing the grudge-time.

    OK I can’t hear the word grudge one more time now without getting reminded of the movie and shitting my pants.

  2. helemaal waar, al vind ik het soms wel moeilijk.
    Ik ben gelovig, en mede met hulp van / omdat ik gelovig ben, lukt het mij meestal wel. na een lange tijd. als ik me besef dat ik er niets mee op schiet

  3. Oh, this is so true. Unfortunately, I find it really, really difficult to forgive. And in the end, all i do, is hurting myself even more by not letting go all the negative emotions. Maybe you have some tips & tricks?

  4. Forgiveness is quite complex. I have the feeling that I can only let things go for about 99%, because even if I feel like I don’t really care anymore (and indeed have better things to do in life), sometimes the grudgy feeling slightly comes back to me. But that’s only with really recent things, so maybe I just need some extra time. 🙂

  5. “Do not mistake this forgiveness for that shitty condescending air of “I’ve forgiven you so I am better than you”. That’s not forgiveness, that’s Holier-Than-Thou-But-Secretly-Not-Really.”

    Eeerhm, I have to admit: that’s me. Your right, it’s shitty, but it’s easy.

    By the way, did you know that your layout doesn’t work completely in Firefox? Instead of signs like ” and … your layout shows this: |

  6. Yeah, @ Lisa, that’s the only thing bothering me too. Furthermore it’s pretty!

    Love means to love that which is unlovable, or it is no virtue at all;
    forgiving means to pardon that which is unpardonable, or it is no virtue at all;
    and to hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all. (G.K. Chesterton)

    And the quote in the first imagine is also kind of … ‘so true, then why do I continue to do it?’. I agree with Desi, genius as usual.

  7. Dit komt precies op het goede moment, dankjewel! Ik heb moeite met een verschrikkelijke geschiedenis in mijn familie die nu weer opspeelt. Het is lastig om te vergeven, maar wel het beste om te doen.