5 Harmful Myths About Forgiveness

For more from Dr. Julie de Azevedo Hanks check out, "Is There a Mormon Burnout Epidemic?" "4 Ways What You Think Is Humility Could Actually Be Pride," and "Avoiding Mormon Burnout: Why It's Okay to Say 'No.'"

It’s a common saying that we should forgive and forget when someone offends us, but the truth is that there’s a little more to forgiveness than that. Throughout my years as a therapist, I’ve worked with many clients who struggled with the concept of forgiveness (what it means, how to do it, etc.).

Whether it’s with minor offenses or severe abuse, we don’t always quite get the whole idea of forgiveness. I define forgiveness as ceasing to feel resentment toward someone who’s wronged us. Forgiveness is beautiful and can heal hearts and relationships, but I think we still may misunderstand it at times. Here are some common myths about forgiveness:

Myth: Forgiveness is Forgetting

Forgiveness is about giving up a grudge and releasing negative energy, but not necessarily never thinking about what happened again. Particularly with individuals who’ve suffered abuse, it’s impractical (and unhealthy) to expect them to forget what they went through. Also, we so often learn from our experiences, so why would we want to forget the life lessons that may have come from a situation where we forgave someone? Occasionally thinking about what happened does not mean dwelling on it or drumming up that resentment again; what it means is that the incident may still be in our memory but it’s not in the forefront of our hearts and minds anymore.

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