Why People Don’t Forgive

By Roz Jones

We’ve all been hurt by people we love and trust. Too often, we’re told to ‘forgive and forget.’

That’s easier said than done.

Things happen and it becomes more and more difficult to move on. This is either because of a certain pattern forcing us to stay stuck and not let go.

We gathered five reasons why people don’t forgive, and ways you can move forward. 

  1. They Don’t Know How to Forgive

Before we can forgive, we have to understand what forgiveness actually is. When you forgive someone, you don’t have to be okay with them as a person, nor do you have to sign off on what they did.

If you wait until you feel that way, you may never forgive the other party at all. What they did will always trigger negative emotions any time you recall.

The alternative is to look at forgiveness as a cancellation of debt. Forgiving someone is finally feeling like no one owes you anything.

You let them out of any obligation towards you, even an apology. It’s just taking a step towards freeing your heart from any responsibilities.

  1. They Find It Hard Letting Go of the Bitterness

If you’re feeling bitter and sad, it can be hard to forgive. You always feel stuck and powerless.

Plus, many times, it’s just easier to deal with the added benefits of having been wronged. We feel sorry for ourselves. Then, we talk and complain, and it makes people listen. That kind of attention can be addictive, even if it’s for all the wrong reasons. It makes us feel important and wanted.

Not only that, but not forgiving can also be because holding onto the bitterness is just simpler. Playing the victim becomes part of who we are. Soon, we lose sight of everything else, even the good things that make us interesting and fun.

One of our favorite quotes by Nelson Mandela is, “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”

In a nutshell, you’re much more than one bad situation. You’re a beautiful individual deserving of living a fully engaging life.

  1. They Attach Present Losses with the Past

Any time someone abuses our trust, it can trigger past pains. If left unchecked, it can cause a snowball effect of deep, intense emotions. The worst part is when it becomes a pattern that keeps repeating itself whenever we’re hurt.

Forgiving something like that can be extremely difficult. Many times it’s only because what we end up facing is too overwhelming and big, so much so that we don’t even know where to start.

The only way out is to stop recreating those patterns of pain. Let go of the past and separate yourself from the cycle of hurt. Once you do that, you can stop putting yourself in a position of having to forgive people over and over again.

  1. They’re Not Being Honest with Themselves

When we’re hurt, the quickest and safest reaction is to cover it up. Or at least not be honest about the real reason why we’re upset.

Maybe you’re mad at your sister for not calling you back. But you’re actually secretly furious that she said something snarky about the state of your marriage.

So, the first step is to be honest with yourself about what’s really making you angry. Then, letting go and forgiving becomes easier.

  1. They Don’t Want to Be Vulnerable

Feeling mad and angry makes us feel in control and tough. It even acts as an armor to keep the hurt away.

At the same time, not forgiving someone keeps you stuck. It forces you to keep replaying that painful situation in your mind. It leaves you feeling weak, vulnerable, and lacking in self-confidence.

However, there’s power in forgiveness. By letting go of the resentment and pain, you actually have more control than you think.

You no longer feel anxious or threatened every time you see them. As a result, you take away whatever control they have over you.

So, what does that mean? It means that forgiving takes strength and willpower. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “The weak don’t forgive. Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong.”


I am excited and thrilled to share with you my new adventure, “The Caregiver Café Podcast”. This podcast tackles and highlights the daily situations caregivers face with their aging loved ones. We also empower you to navigate the care and challenges of your loved one with relevant topics and through the voices of your peers and their life experiences.

Monday April 4th we launched our first episode, and you can learn all about it at this link. 

Visit http://www.rozjonesent.com for more information on addressing issues that caregivers face on a daily basis, and check out my newly-published book!

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