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Is not forgiving bad for our health?


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15 replies to this topic

#1
TheUKLibertarian

TheUKLibertarian
  • 9 posts

I know Stefan talks a lot about how forgiveness isn't something you can choose and forgiving people who haven't earned it would be bad for your psychological health.

 

But I just watched this short video by the screenwriter Geoff Thompson where he makes a convincing argument that holding on to anger towards people who have wronged you can mess up your brain as you are holding onto anger sometimes for decades that is keeping stress levels up and leading to illnesses and bad health.

 

He talks about bumping into a childhood abuser, telling him that he ruined his early life and then saying he forgives him.

 

I'd be interested to hear thoughts on the video and where you think he gets it wrong if you disagree with his point of view.


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#2
Honest

Honest
  • 18 posts

I think the crux of the issue is what exactly is meant by "forgiveness," and whether not forgiving is the same or requires being angry to the point of it affecting your health, which I don't know that it does.

 

By the way, your link doesn't go to the video, it links back to this thread. Thought I was going crazy for a little bit.


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#3
LovePrevails

LovePrevails
  • 1928 posts

forgiving =/= letting it go

 

if someone makes restitution you forgive them

if they don't eventually you'll want to let it got

 

that is my pwersonal view on it


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#4
TheRobin

TheRobin
  • 1054 posts

There seems to be this false dilemma of either being angry or forgiving as the only two optons.

 

If a person is constantly and unchangeingly behaving in an mean or aggressive manner towards you and as a result that makes you angry (cause you don't want that to happen), then that's a good thing. The question is more what do you do then. If you talk to said person and they don't care and don't change their behaviour then surely, it will get to your health, but more so because you're constantly being near a threat, which will trigger the respective bodily imulses and hormones. Another option would be to leave, once it's clear the person won't change as a means of self-protection. That way you won't be constantly angry, cause you're not constantly around that person. Forgiveness would be when the person understand and acknowledges his or her bad behaviour and makes restitution and changes hsi behaviour. That way you can have a more happy and mutually beneficial relationship, which is healthy too. Most people don't accept or understand or act in the knowledge, that they can leave a situation at any time (usually at least). And since that doesn't even seem to be on the table as an option this false dilemma is created that only serves to perpetrate to problem instead of really solving it. Forgiveness as it's described usually just means surpressing one's own emotions towards people in one's life, which itself isn't healthy either. It's the sacrifice of one's own happyness and energy for the sake of others who don't want to change and don't want to treat you in a respectful or nice manner, so this only serves bad people in the end at the cost of the good people.


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#5
dsayers

dsayers

    collateral damage

  • 2226 posts

Phrases like "hold on to" and "let it go" are vague. It's not up to me whether or not I experienced something in the past. I could no more choose to hold on to an experience than I could choose to let it go. What I can do is study it to understand how it made me feel, what those feelings mean, and so on.

 

I think when the voluntary phrase "hold on to" is used, it's meant to refer to the involuntary experience of not being able to think of something other than what's being "held on to." This would be an indication that the person has not studied it to understand how it makes them feel, what those feelings mean, and so on. Their subconscious preoccupation is an indication that it needs processing. To "let it go" would be very unhealthy.

 

If you drive your car into a brick wall, you need to remember how it felt and the property damage that was caused to you, your car, the brick wall. Otherwise, what's stopping you from doing it again? Our ability to remember our experiences and especially the processing of the traumatic experiences saves us both from being subjected to those experiences in the future as well as subjecting others to similar experiences because of us.

 

It's not just for the traumatic either. If we find ourselves the beneficiaries of a very satisfying experience, to process it will help us understand how to achieve satisfaction in the future as well as provide satisfaction for others. There is no flaw in allowing knowledge (and experiences if we have self-knowledge) to accumulate and improve who we are overall.


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#6
NotDarkYet

NotDarkYet
  • 664 posts

To the OP:

 

 

I once was so obsessively angry at someone that I started getting daily panic attacks.  I wasn't right for 6 months.

 

 

It wrecked me.


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It is not he or she or them or it that you belong to.


#7
JamesP

JamesP
  • 3917 posts
Forgiveness is like hunger. You cannot will yourself to not be hungry–you must consume food. Likewise, you cannot will forgiveness. It occurs when the person who wronged you feeds you their responsibility, their empathy, and their restitution. Whereas avoiding your hunger will result in death, the offender avoiding seeking forgiveness will result in the death of that relationship.
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#8
TheUKLibertarian

TheUKLibertarian
  • 9 posts

Guys, thanks for the great responses so far. Just to let you k now I edited the OP with the correct link which will help the discussion I'm sure. Here it is again. I'll just wait before jumping back in to see what else people have to say and in case anybody wants to add anything with the full context of how he means forgiveness (or at least what you can get from the clip).


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#9
Slavik

Slavik
  • 259 posts

I know Stefan talks a lot about how forgiveness isn't something you can choose and forgiving people who haven't earned it would be bad for your psychological health.

 

But I just watched this short video by the screenwriter Geoff Thompson where he makes a convincing argument that holding on to anger towards people who have wronged you can mess up your brain as you are holding onto anger sometimes for decades that is keeping stress levels up and leading to illnesses and bad health.

 

He talks about bumping into a childhood abuser, telling him that he ruined his early life and then saying he forgives him.

 

I'd be interested to hear thoughts on the video and where you think he gets it wrong if you disagree with his point of view.

Speaking about my personal experiences only.  I have never given forgiveness to those who hurt me, and never asked for me to forgive them .  What happened instead, is I allowed myself to feel anger at them, without self attack.  After confronting them about them causing me pain, and them ignoring it all together, I took at information to heart and removed them from my life completely.  I can safely say this:  I no longer feel anger at them, they are no longer around me, and I no longer care about them.  Im free and this past no longer bothers me.  


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#10
cherapple

cherapple

    Cheryl Hulseapple

  • 484 posts

Forgiveness is like hunger. You cannot will yourself to not be hungry–you must consume food. Likewise, you cannot will forgiveness. It occurs when the person who wronged you feeds you their responsibility, their empathy, and their restitution. Whereas avoiding your hunger will result in death, the offender avoiding seeking forgiveness will result in the death of that relationship.

 

I would like to add that avoiding the truth of what someone did to you – forgiving as forgetting – results in forgetting yourself ("dying") for the benefit of someone else. To live and be oneself, and to experience a joyful and true relationship with oneself and others – is a hunger. 


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~*~*~

Put an active verb in every sentence you write,

and give it a strong subject that says and does something.

~*~*~

"As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live."

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


#11
Mike C.

Mike C.
  • 16 posts

I just barely had an arguement with my wife about this question. Is not forgiving someone who doesn't apologize bad for you?

 

I came to the same logical conclusion as all of you did, but she pointed to what we have been taught in church and stated that when I forgave so-and-so, I felt peace.

I then said, I feel some kind of peace when I justify my wrong doings, but that doesn't make it healthy...

She cried and said she didn't like me questioning these core beliefs. (There is a deeper story that I won't go into now, but yeah)

 

So it's a tough concept to wrestle, but forgiveness is a virtue when we forgive people who say they will change and who have learned from their mistake(s). This is because the relationship can be salvaged and transformed into a stronger healthier one, which may benefit you and them.

 

Forgiveness is not a virtue when we use it as an excuse to repress "sinful" feelings of anger towards the person who has hurt us. Repressing our feelings is as bad as dismissing them. Like in the new Pixar movie Inside Out. Deep stuff.

 

Good thread!


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#12
thebeardslastcall

thebeardslastcall
  • 116 posts

I think you don't have to forgive someone, but acceptance is what's important. If they are a bad person and you aren't willing to accept that then you're in an unhealthy situation. People want to force you to "forgive" someone who hasn't earned it and that is an unhealthy denial, as they're telling you to no accept them for who they are, but to deny and live with them (people do this because they don't want you to reject them should they deserve it). Likewise denying forgiveness can also center you away from the necessary acceptance of the fact that some people won't change and you simply need to remove them from your environment. In that way you haven't forgiven them, but you've accepted them for who they really are and allowed yourself to make the necessary life changes to avoid the harm they cause to your life. So you haven't forgiven them, but you're no longer holding onto active anger against them because they no longer pose any particular threat to your life, because you accepted the truth of who they are and moved away from them. As said, forgiveness is either earned or not earned and not in your control. Acceptance however is in your control and will determine whether you remain angry over the situation or not. Remaining angry means you haven't accepted the situation and done what you need so you should pay attention to that and make the necessary changes so you can stop being angry about it and find some peace and health in your life.

 

People who tell you to just forgive and forget everything are not interested in your well-being. Acceptance however is important for well-being, so you can make the necessary changes in your life.


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#13
Anuojat

Anuojat
  • 175 posts

There is a sadness that follows anger towards a person in me atleast :)

 

I may still feel angry when i remember what was done to me but no longer as angry and also because ive been sad ive been able to let go off the person.

 

Sadness podcast is where i got this from an felt it was right and then applied to my own actions. :)


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#14
J-William

J-William
  • 1346 posts
Forgiveness is saying that everything is ok between you and another person and you feel like inviting them to dinner would make for a safe and enjoyable evening.

Do people forgive their rapists and invite them over for family dinner?
You will eventually stop thinking about the rapist every day, but you should never invite the rapist to dinner or ignore that anxious feeling you get when someone reminds you of the rapist.

Same applies to harmful people of any kind. You don't invite them to dinner because you want to clearly see the warning signs in others.
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“Good men don’t serve in the army.  Good iron doesn’t get turned into nails.”- Chinese saying

 
 

#15
mellomama

mellomama
  • 127 posts

@TheUKLibertarian: To answer your question about the video, I found the concepts and verbiage the guy uses so abstract and obtuse that I really couldn't get much out of it. I just couldn't follow what he was saying. He seemed to be making lots of assumptions. Not getting a good explanation for those assumptions, I didn't feel like I could buy much if anything that followed from them. (Example: "When someone abuses you, it's a form of possession." Maybe in his case, but that doesn't mean it's the same for everyone. Then he starts talking about alchemy and creating his empire from his anger, bringing it through his heart chakra. What the heck does that mean? If you forgive someone you will instantly become successful? Sorry, I couldn't follow all that, at least as an argument that I could apply in my own life.)

Similarly to the posts in this thread, everyone seems to mean something different when they use words like forgiveness. The dictionary definition is "stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake." I suppose I would agree that it is important to not walk around feeling angry all the time. However, if one is able to be happy in their daily life, but feels angry when thinking of the person or action in question, I would say that is healthy. Because as someone else mentioned, it's how you remember events well enough to protect yourself from them in the future. Don't know if that help at all or not.


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#16
SomeoneSomewhere

SomeoneSomewhere
  • 80 posts

I think you neither have to be angry or ''forgiving''. Forgiving would be a form of apathy towards his wrong deeds! Face the truth as is, forgiving always seems ot be employed as a deviation from that.


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