Reflection on "forced forgiveness"
I read this article about "what your therapist really thinks" and was happy with the message that was being shared. Usually, when I see articles with "this is what your therapist is really thinking" in it, I cringe a bit and become nervous, hoping that this one person is not putting anything negative or damaging out in the world about all therapists. Sometimes I disagree with these articles and I hope that the people reading them are willing to ask their own therapist if they are "true" or if they agree or disagree. This particular piece however caught my eye, because it discusses a topic that even therapists have a difficult time explaining and validating for their clients. "Forced Forgiveness" vs. "Compassion". Most schools are now requiring Marriage and Family Therapists to undergo their own therapy, so that they can understand what their clients will be feeling and to work through any unresolved issues to minimize countertransference issues. I remember when I was in therapy during graduate school, I was struggling with the saying "you have to forgive in order to move on", and "
you are only hurting/holding yourself back if you don't forgive". I struggled with the thought of "forgiveness" because it felt like it meant that I had to allow the person I was forgiving to be a part of my life again. My therapist then told me "If someone physically harmed your child, you might forgive them and move on, but you would probably never allow that person to be near them again, in order to protect your child and be safe. So, why does that mean that if you forgive someone you would have to invite them to be active and a part of your life?" This really started to shift my idea of what forgiveness looks like. In this article, Lori Gottlieb discusses the difference between forced forgiveness ("you need to forgive and move on") and compassion (I'm not pretending I am forgiving you or saying it was okay, but I am not holding on to anger and resentment. I can help you/ engage with you and still not be okay with what you may have done.) Read her full discussion here: https://www.thecut.com/2017/07/im-not-sad-my-grandmothers-going-to-die.html