This month, the topic of my organization (The Student Mental Health Initiative) is forgiveness and mental health. We are hosting a meeting to talk about the subject matter and discuss when it is best to forgive someone who negatively impacted your mental health and when that may not be an option nor should it be. For example, if someone uses the word ‘crazy’ to describe one of your actions and you have a psychological disorder, does it make sense for you to forgive them (even if they haven’t asked for forgiveness) for your own healing? Or if someone tries to minimize the trauma you went through, should you forgive them on the assumption that they misunderstood you?
Of course, I do not have the answer to this. Each situation will be different. But I think we can find common themes within our own experiences of what works best when. And being conscious of these themes can help us heal. It can help us create dialogue with certain individuals at certain times.
In thinking about myself, there are probably folks I need to forgive in order to give myself room to heal. There are folks who were simply ignorant but not malintentioned. Yet there are plenty of others who were; they made the decisions they did because they had no respect for me. So for me, those are the people I believe I shouldn’t forgive. Not now, not ever. Forgiving them is accepting their behavior and enabling them continue their actions. The question then is, is confronting them on these issues ever an option or should it even be an option?