Should you forgive a bully? They say you should forgive and forget, but is it really that simple to forgive a person who bullied you? Bullying can make life miserable for even the most confident person, and there is more than one case of the target of bullying taking drastic measures because of the pain they’re going through.
With the level of emotional distress caused by being bullied, should you even bother trying to forgive your bully?
Should You Forgive a Bully?
This question was posed on a forum, and I was surprised by the number of people who said they felt the bully should not be forgiven. Interestingly, most of the people who had that opinion were also people who had been bullied. I saw a common theme with their answers, though – underlying anger and pain. People who encouraged forgiveness seemed much more at peace than those who didn’t.
One of the commenters on the forum hit upon something that is important in the idea of forgiveness, and that is the health benefits of forgiveness. He said, “By forgiving this individual, you are doing yourself the favor and healing your own soul. By not doing so, you are and have victimized yourself to a far greater extent and for a much greater period of time.”
The Mayo Clinic backs up the benefits of forgiveness, stating that “forgiveness can lead to: healthier relationships; greater spiritual and psychological well-being; less anxiety, stress and hostility; lower blood pressure; fewer symptoms of depression; stronger immune system; improved heart health; and higher self-esteem.”
Forgiving and Forgetting in Your Own Time
Going back to the adage shared above, “forgive and forget,” it seems the forgetting part is the hard one. Keep in mind that forgiveness and forgetting the situation happened do not have to go hand in hand. It is possible to forgive someone for something they’ve done to you without then being required to have a friendship or relationship of some kind.
Dr. M. Amir Ali wrote an article on forgiveness, and his final point is in regard to reconciliation. He shares that “Reconciliation is desirable but not essential to forgiveness. If the victim feels that the offender has serious character flaws and it is not in his best interest to reconcile he doesn’t have to… Sometimes it is best for one’s own sanity not to carry on normal relationship with certain kinds of characters.”
Ultimately, if you were the victim of bullying, only you know if you can forgive the person who bullied you. If you were the victim of bullying and are struggling with your emotions, please seek help with a counselor. While I am a proponent of forgiveness for your own well-being, if you’re not ready to do so, that’s okay. It will come in time. Everyone’s healing happens on their own timeline, and you will get there!