“Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word…” – ACM Safeguarding Lead, Chris East

24 Feb 2021

This post was written more than two years ago. The content or information below may no longer be accurate.

ACM’s Designated Safeguarding Lead

When you think about that person, situation or circumstance it fills you with anger, distress or frustration.

Why on earth would you want to forgive someone who has hurt you so much?

A neverending swirl of discomfort in your stomach, a painful reminder of how much they wronged you.

Because after all, the longer you have sleepless nights, painful physiological symptoms and erratic outbursts of anger the more it hurts them …

Wait, what? 

Let’s go back a bit…

A person wrongs you, then you spend the rest of your life suffering the consequences of unforgiveness whilst they get away relatively scot-free…?!!

That doesn’t make sense…

American author Marianne Williamson described unforgiveness as:

“…like drinking poison yourself and waiting for the other person to die.”

Matthew West – “Forgiveness”:

It’s the hardest thing to give away
And the last thing on your mind today
It always goes to those who don’t deserve
It’s the opposite of how you feel
When the pain they caused is just too real
Takes everything you have to say the word

I’ve had this, In some way, I still have this. 

In fact, the people I’m upset with probably don’t know what impact they’ve had on me and to a certain extent they probably never will, or furthermore, will even care. 

If you have been affected by a traumatic event at the hands of someone else then this is an extremely tough topic to approach.

Telling someone who has experienced trauma that they must forgive in order to heal is like reintroducing them back to their abuser or traumatic situation, in turn initiating feelings and responses out of their control that is very difficult to process or manage.

In order to achieve healing; effective counselling by a qualified practitioner and careful pastoral care should always be the first port of call when beginning the post-trauma healing journey.

Let’s break this topic down a bit to gain a true understanding of the term ‘Forgiveness’:

“Forgiveness”/fəˈɡɪvnɪs/ – noun: 

The action or process of forgiving or being forgiven.

What is forgiveness? 

It’s the intentional and voluntary process whereby someone who feels victimised, undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding a given offence, subsequently removing negative emotions such as resentment and vengeance.

What does forgiveness mean?

Letting go of negative emotions regarding the individual that has wronged you. 

What does Forgiveness not mean?

Contrary to what many believe, forgiveness is not forgetting. 

“Forgive and forget” or “burying the hatchet.” 

Are sayings people have used for many years, unfortunately, they’re highly misleading not to mention psychologically impossible. 

We all forget things, mostly unintentionally over the course of time. Throughout life certain memories are erased, but traumatic memories tend not to leave us so easily.

Forgiveness is Not Saying …

  • You weren’t hurt by what someone else did.
  • The blame is now equally shared.
  • The other person is completely excused.
  • It’s as if nothing happened.
  • You no longer feel pain.
  • You’re 100% the person you were before the offence.
  • The person who hurt you is no longer responsible.
  • The situation is no longer of importance to you.

You are simply saying you will no longer let the offence or person dominate your life.

Matthew West – “Forgiveness”:

So let it go and be amazed by what you see through eyes of grace

The prisoner that it really frees is you

How do I start the journey of forgiveness?

As the question states, It’s a journey, it’s not done in one decision or action. Sometimes you have to return to the start many times. 

Start by working out what actually happened that hurt you so much, write this down or go for a walk and say it out loud. (Obviously, when no-one is around, I wouldn’t recommend doing this walking down the high street) 

Our minds try not to approach negative situations, so we need to take control. You must state the facts and not let your mind catastrophize the offence, you’ll then start to fully understand the situation and not just experience the feeling it gave you.

Reflect on your actions and responses; even if you contributed only a small amount to the incident or caused minimal offence, reflecting on this also helps to address the facts.

If the person who caused the offence apologised, make sure you acknowledge this either verbally or in writing, this will help to mend wounds felt on both sides. This does not mean you have to build further relationships with the individual, however, it will go some way in helping to close a chapter on the situation.

The journey of forgiveness is ultimately about freedom. When we need someone else to change in order for us to be OK, we are a prisoner. 

By effectively processing and understanding what is happening or has happened we start breaking the shackles that have trapped us for so long. We can also realise, in some cases, we were more hurt by the feeling we’re carrying than the original offence.

Our decisions have consequences, but we’re less aware that our decisions are consequences. If we continue to withhold forgiveness we will end up damaging parts of our futures due to the negative consequences it has on our personalities.

Take control and start your journey today.

If you would like support with anything mentioned within this article please contact studentsupport@acm.ac.uk, alternatively, you can find out more information on our Student Services Canvas page.

If you have a concern for your wellbeing or that of someone else associated with ACM, please contact the safeguarding team:
Email – dsl@acm.ac.uk
Call – 01483 910197