Saturday, January 28, 2017

Forgiveness does not make you morally superior.

I want to take a moment to offer some advice I gave to a good friend of mine a little over a month ago.  It seemed to help him immensely and, if it can help others, I think it's worth sharing.

While present nearly everywhere, I find that the concept of forgiveness as some kind of elevated morality is particularly rampant within the pagan and witchcraft community.  We become coaxed into believing that forgiveness is the only way to some sort of metaphorical pagan-esque enlightenment, that it will somehow make us better human beings.  Forgiveness is seen as this catch-all solution that will make us feel happier and less weighted down by the pressures of the world.  This often goes hand-in-hand with "love and light," which I've ranted about ad nauseam here.

I'd like to present an alternative viewpoint: Being your most authentic self is true weightlessness.

Sometimes, to be authentic, we must let go of the concept of forgiveness as a moral high ground. That kind of pressure is unnecessary and unrealistic.  It can often create two scenarios: One in which you feel like you've failed at being a better human being because you cannot let go of your anger, or one where you feign that you have, thus presenting a less authentic version of yourself to the world.  Neither, I feel, are healthy.  If we have been truly hurt, sometimes hate is a way of self-preservation, a way of protecting ourselves from that same kind of hurt again. Hate is most certainly normal and can be healthy.  A persistent feeling of being less than or having to hide who you really are, however, isn't.

Accepting forgiveness as some sort of healthy panacea, a cure for all of our woes, is overly simplistic. The true reality of being human is far more complicated than that, and forcing that kind of view on yourself, feeling less than for not being able to move on at this very point and time, is actually adding more weight than its worth.

This equally applies to ourselves just as much as it does to others  It's okay to hate ourselves from time to time; everyone does. It's how we recognize what we don't want to be and how to make changes. It's one of many ways we can learn to grow.

What we often don't hear is something we truly need to hear:  Everyone hates. Everyone has negative emotions from time to time, against others and against themselves.  Particularly within the paradigm of witchcraft, I believe it's important to experience the entire range that existence offers, the ups and the downs.  People are often uncomfortable to sit with negative emotions because we believe that they're fallible emotions, that they make us some kind of bad person.  It doesn't make you a bad person for feeling those emotions. It simply makes you human.

My suggestion? Sit with your hate, your anger, your negative feelings.  Recognize them.  Don't push them off for some kind of supposed moral superiority.  Instead, discern why you feel that way.  Cry it out.  Rage it out.  Do whatever it is you need to do, but sit with it.  Get comfortable with the most uncomfortable parts of yourself.  Feel whatever it is you need to feel when you need to feel it. Recognizing our feelings, meeting our shadow selves face-on and accepting them, is an essential part of growth.

It's an essential part of being human.


  1. well, I can just say here that I will never forgive the person who killed my son. I just have learned how to deal with this and to live my life to its fullest everyday. Never forget and never to be a victim....

    1. I'm so sorry for your loss, Anon. Do what you need to do to stand strong in the face of the tragedy and move forward. All my love to you.