When a person has done you wrong in a very serious way, do you find it nearly impossible to forgive them? I do. Forgiving them to me means that I am giving them a pass on their behavior as if it was okay and not so bad. And I do this while compromising my own principles on the issue. That does not sit well with me.
I prefer to “let it go” for my benefit – mostly. Holding on to resentment and anger hurts the person who is being resentful and angry the most. Sometimes the person who did you wrong is not even fully aware of the extent in which they violated you. Their principles and intelligence may be lower than yours. So expecting them to understand and acknowledge the way they did you wrong to the extent you require will likely never happen. Therefore, waiting for a satisfactory apology, while holding on to resentment and anger, is foolish.
If they really lack integrity, they may gain some unhealthy pleasure in seeing how your resentment and anger is hurting you! In this case and most others, your best stance is to just “let it go” and be unconcerned about the wrongdoing and them for that matter. In doing this they will see your strength and integrity and either come around at some point and ask for your forgiveness or move on.
There’s another part of forgiving a person who’s done you wrong in a serious way. Because they and you can interpret forgiving them as giving them a pass on their behavior or a message that they were right in their actions. This may lead them to see you as inferior to them. So their behavior toward you in the future may be dominate and cavalier.
On the other hand, if you simply “let it go” there is no pass on their behavior but rather an unconcerned attitude by you toward the wrongdoing. You show no resentment or anger, just indifference. Then they are left with the choice, or even the burden, of seeking your forgiveness in some way, which again will likely fall short of your requirements.
By letting it go, you are giving the wrongdoer the opportunity to save face and set things right with you. And you are doing this without taking any revengeful actions or displaying any resentment or anger toward them. This is good for your physical and mental health and it strengthens your character and integrity. But in doing so you are “not” giving them a pass on their behavior. Instead, you are in effect setting a boundary of unacceptable behavior.
If we threw every person out of our lives who did us wrong according to “our standards,” we would have few if any friends or family left. Therefore, it’s best to just “let things go.”
There are exceptions, however. If a person has violated your physical, psychological, or financial wellbeing in an extreme way, allowing them to stay in your life would be self-abuse and self-damaging regardless of your relationship with them. This would include relatives, lovers, and authority figures. You should still let it go, but you should also remove them from your life permanently! In these situations, forgiving them is unhealthy for you in my opinion. It sends the wrong message to them and to yourself (perhaps subconsciously).
Although this strategy of “letting it go” rather than forgiving goes against popular trends, religious interpretations, and textbook recommendations by psychologists, to me it makes more sense. It is more doable. It is more self-esteem preserving. And it is more psychologically protective. The result of letting it go is similar to forgiving, but the path in getting there is quite different.
Letting it go allows you to keep your self-respect and integrity intact. It allows you to maintain your principles and respond in a mature, civil, and classy manner that causes no harm to you or the other person.