How Forced, “Unprocessed” Forgiveness Can Be Toxic


I have rarely seen this topic discussed, but it is something worth noting as you go through your own journey of self-discovery and healing.

You will see it preached in some religions, advised by New Age gurus, and even given some serious medical consideration: basically, that to forgive is to be “divine,” and will make you happier and lower your blood pressure and all that jazz.

But depending on the severity of the act that precipitated the need to forgive, you might need to do a lot of “processing” of that forgiveness. Which is to say, you must “feel”—and be comfortable with—that forgiveness in deep levels of your being.

If, instead, you make a “conscious” effort to forgive, but your deeper self hadn’t really “bought” that…that’s a BIG problem. That could be a catastrophic, even life-altering situation.

And here’s why. Your forgiveness regarding the person and event in question may not “compute” to your deeper self. It could feel…incongruous to your deeper self. Dissonant. Your conscious self thinks it makes sense, but your deeper self just doesn’t understand.

And SO: in order to make “sense” of this forgiveness, your deeper self reframes the incident in question so YOU are at fault.

Let that sink in.

So say you are angry at your mom or dad for stuff your whole life, but you decide to put in the effort to forgive her or him. Your deeper self is confused by this, because it’s still this wounded inner child. This wounded deeper self has *not* gotten over this bad treatment by your parent. But your conscious self is insisting the forgiveness must take place.

And so sometimes what happens is that this wounded deeper self decides to rectify this conflict by changing the “narrative.” And the narrative gets changed to: your parent did nothing wrong and was/is a saint, and you were just a bad child.

I’ve seen this play out with many adults in terms of their parents; and it’s kept them stuck full of self-loathing. “My mom is great!” “I forgive my dad!” “I hate myself!” “I deserved everything I got!” “I was so unfair to them!” “I am scum!”

So to me, I think it’s healthier to just be clear that somebody has wronged you…than to force forgiveness within yourself.

This doesn’t mean you can’t forgive even the most egregious offense. But sometimes this evolves organically as part of a longer-term journey of self-reflection (and perhaps even therapy). Sometimes you just gather enough wisdom about things over time and the forgiveness becomes effortless.

But I wouldn’t force it.

More to read about on Butterfly Language:
Getting Out Of One’s Own Way
10 Low-Cost (Or No-Cost) Resources For Self-Improvement
Your Instant Advantage: Most People Won’t.