Forgiveness is not about forgetting the past but about shedding yourself (and others) of ongoing resentment or bitterness.
Jacques Derrida, a prominent twentieth century philosopher, approached forgiveness as a complex and nuanced concept, with inherent paradoxes and tensions. Derrida suggested that forgiveness involves acknowledging the pain and injustice while still striving for understanding and reconciliation.
We should not view forgiveness as a form of weakness or being overly submissive. At the same time, forgiveness should not be doled to others without any forethought. Of course, in an ideal world, forgiveness would only be given once there is a degree of genuine remorse and commitment to change from whomever offended you. But, if we make that a hill to die on, we can forever be trapped in bitterness, anger, and resentment.
Forgiveness requires regulating your negative emotions, such as anger, resentment, and hurt. And your brain’s regions involved in modulating your emotional responses, including the amygdala and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, become strengthened the more you work on forgiveness. The result is that you’ll reduce any overall negative affect; in other words, you’ll let go of any emotional baggage.
Martin Luther King Jr. famously said that “forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a constant attitude.” This week think of at least one person you can work on forgiving. If you feel that it’s necessary to communicate with that person, then do so. Otherwise, do not make the process of forgiveness dependent upon the other person’s response.