by Conscious Reminder
When consoling a friend, we often resort to the old phrase of ‘forgive and forget’. It seems like the best option in most situations in order to look forward.
But is it the best advice? The fact is, this advice can backfire in most scenarios. Here are 5 reasons why you should not always rely on this phrase.
1. Forgetting Does Not Come Easy
Sheer willpower will not make you forget any traumatic event. Your brain cannot voluntarily forget something. With time the wound can heal, but only parts of the experience get lost. Not the trauma itself. So asking yourself or another to forget a bad experience is really not of any use.
2. Do You Not Care?
When a loved one comes and tells you your feelings and experiences are not true, will you think of them as loving and caring? They might have the best of intentions in advising you so, but that is not going to help you as the victim. You would want to keep away from such people since they cannot even acknowledge your abuse.
3. It Sounds Judgemental
Forgive and forget often sounds very judgemental to the victim. If someone tells you you have to forget the whole thing or you’ll appear cold and cruel, know that it is their own judgment. What this phrase sounds to a victim is that their healing process is not correct. Now, who would want to hear that?
4. Victims Might Feel Weak
Most victims take a really long time to even realize that they had been through trauma. And when they finally come to terms with it, anger and frustration follow. But if you tell them to forget it, or worse, forgive the abuser, you will make the victim feel small and weak. It will take away their sense of reality.
5. Don’t Invalidate The Abuse
The most important reason why you should not think of forgiving and forgetting is that it tells you to invalidate that experience. Forgive and forget is a philosophy that works in the case of a person holding a grudge against a prank or harmless joke.
But when it comes to a victim of emotional, mental, and physical abuse, telling them to forgive the abuser and actually forget the whole experience is just invalidating the whole thing.
Abuse and trauma can lead to further complications like depression, suicidal thoughts, and addiction. When you tell someone to forgive and forget, you are plainly telling them their experience was not true.
So next time you are sitting with a friend and sharing this ‘advice’, or even thinking it for yourself, stop yourself. Forgive and forget is not going to help anyone.
The best way forward is to work on a healing process that lets the victim process and express their experience.
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