It’s easier to forget than forgive
The 2017 film ‘The Shack’ is about forgiveness — how one of the most difficult things to do is to forgive someone who has wronged us. And, how it is even tougher to forgive oneself. The movie is based on a 2007 book penned by William P. Young. The film did well at the box-office, though some critics panned it for sermonizing.
The protagonist Mack has been physically and emotionally abused as a child by his father who is an alcoholic. He finds it difficult to forgive and forget that abuse. In adulthood, Mack receives another jolt — his daughter is abducted, partly because he is not there for her. He is not able to forgive himself for that tragedy. After a series of spiritual experiences, Mack decides neither to sit on judgement on his father nor on himself.
Forgiveness does not mean forming relationships (with the person who has wronged us) but just moving on — that’s the message of the film in a nutshell.
Is it necessary to forgive?
According greatergood.berkeley.edu, psychologists define forgiveness as a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness. Research indicates that forgiving aids in forgetting. That’s probably because once you forgive someone you do not brood about what that person has done to you.
Dr Mariana Bockarova, researcher at the University of Toronto, writes in Psychology Today that forgiveness is usually healthy, needed, and recommended. However, at times, there’s more power in not forgiving. You just learn from toxic encounters, grow, and move on, she writes.
According to Dr Bockarova, forgiveness is situation based. First, it is easier to forgive when the other person acknowledges his or her wrongdoing and apologises. In the second situation, the person you need to forgive may not be aware that his/her words or actions caused pain. He or she should be forgiven. In the third situation, no remorse is shown — in fact the perpetrator is happy about causing pain. Here there is absolutely no need to forgive, she explains.
I would like to end with a quote: “Forgiveness is not about forgetting. Forgiveness is about remembering without pain.” While I agree with this, I do feel it is easier to forget — to block one’s mind from unpleasant events and trauma — than forgive. Forgiving is a much harder thing to do.