As someone who has a strange fascination with criminal investigation shows such as Dateline and 48 Hours, I have observed the parents of murdered individuals forgive their children’s killers on more than one occasion.
Although I commend them on their ability to be so benevolent in the worst of situations, I can’t help but think that if something like that ever happened to me, and my parents chose to be the bigger people, I’d be more than a little upset even from beyond the grave.
This initial annoyance toward people who are so willing to forgive anyone who has wronged them now nags at me every time I hear something like, “Everyone deserves a second chance.”
For example, on a recent episode of Revenge Body with Khloe Kardashian, a show in which Kardashian helps people lose weight and undergo physical transformations to fight back against people who have hurt them, a participant revealed that she gained 70 pounds after being raped.
The girl’s nutritionist advised her to forgive her attacker, as it would make her feel better. Even though the contestant said she felt relieved after opening up about the incident and choosing to forgive her rapist, what if she hadn’t felt ready or comfortable enough to do that yet? What if she never reached the point of feeling comfortable enough to excuse the behavior of the man who stole her adolescence, and at the same time everyone around her was preaching forgiveness?
Our society is so supportive of the idea of forgiveness and second chances, and it’s easy to understand why with all the psychological evidence backing it up.
One study conducted by psychologist Charlotte vanOyen Witvliet required people to think about someone who had mistreated them. During this period, Witvliet measured their blood pressure, facial muscle tension, heart rate and sweat gland activity. She found that when participants thought of grudges they still held, their blood pressure, heart rate and sweat gland productivity increased. Not only does holding a grudge affect one’s physical health, but it can also cause stress, anxiety, depression and low self-esteem, according to mayoclinic.org.
Despite all the negative aspects of refusing to give someone a second chance, I’m fed up with people feeling like they have to forgive someone they don’t want to because societal principles pressure them to. After all, saying you forgive someone when you still secretly aren’t over how he or she hurt you can lead to even more resentment of that person over time.
For me, these views mostly stem from a high degree of pettiness. Although I have never really been brutally betrayed, I can recall small instances of disloyalty in which so-called friends partnered up with someone else for a class project or went trick-or-treating without me, wearing the costume I had planned on wearing. Though these examples may seem insignificant to people who are not as sensitive as I am, I truly believe that cutting people out of your life who are not worth your time prevents a lot of pointless grief.
Whether the situation involves a cheating boyfriend or girlfriend, or simply a friend who spoke badly about you behind your back, I say it’s better to hold that grudge until you get over it than to be fake about how you feel. Or if you never get over it, that’s still fine; it’s up to you.