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The Dark Side of Forgiveness

Updated: Sep 20, 2019

The trouble with forgiveness

is that the idea contains

within itself

its own trap.

For, once we have concluded there is a need for forgiveness,

we have also implicitly concluded…

-That we’ve been mistreated (and we shouldn’t have been).

-That the act or behavior was “wrong” (and that needs to be punished).

-That the offender should have known better (and thus chose to hurt us).

And how in the hell are we supposed to look the other way when...


With an act that was clearly WRONG

By someone who CHOSE TO HURT US?

Short answer is: we can’t.

You see…

This is the dark side of forgiveness,

the side that nobody talks about:

Forgiveness allows us to hold on to the most poisonous thought of all: that we are victims of someone who could have chosen to act differently.

The trouble is not that we cannot forgive. The trouble is that we assign blame in the first place.

And while it may not be a popular view,

there is no place for blame in this world.

(and to be clear, there is a place for accountability,

Just no place for blame)

And here’s why:

The truth is that WE ARE ALL always doing the very best we can

given the forces that are acting upon us in any particular moment;

The forces of thought.

The forces of inherited belief.

The forces of past experience.

The forces of perspective. The forces of emotion.

The forces of behavioral patterning.

Just to name a few.

These forces, which stand largely out of our control

(at least in the moment),

compel our behavior.

A simple thought experiment can demonstrate.

Imagine yourself as the offending person:

You are in the exact same body.

You are in the exact same circumstance.

You are surrounded by the exact same people.

You have the exact same background and personal history.

Your mind swirls with the exact same thoughts.

Your body courses with the exact same emotions.

You are filled by the exact same impulses.

What would you do?

Yes, it's true.

You would do the exact same thing

as the person who you are blaming for being so hurtful.

The fact is that behavior is no mystery.

Behavior is a mathematical summation

of the forces acting upon us in any given moment.

That’s why, if one wishes to truly move past an event,

one must move past seeking forgiveness,

and instead…


And we do this by understanding the true source of the behavior.

the wounds…

the inherited beliefs...

the personal perspective...

the experienced emotions, the fears, and the desperation…

All of which are,

in the moment of the offense,

acting on the so-called offender.

When we look past the offending action

And instead, look to the forces that compelled the action in the first place,

understanding arises.

And with understanding

comes true compassion.

And with true compassion,

the need for forgiveness evaporates and true healing begins.

[and make no mistake, all of this is as valid when forgiving ourselves

as it is for forgiving others]

I know there is likely much here that may seem difficult to embrace.

But I can assure you this difficulty comes not from your loving heart,

but from the way those around us have taught us to react...

- to right and wrong,

- to fair and unfair,

- to good and bad,

Yes, it's the eating of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil,

that sets us up for the fall.


As always, I ask you not to believe me, but rather look closely at your lived experience of your own behaviors.

- Look at what prompts you to move left or to move right. - Study what compels your "yes" and your "no" - Examine the truth of how your actions are shaped from within and without.

And, as they say, this truth, it will set you free.

With Love,


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