5 Reasons Why It’s Hard to Forgive People

Starting from a young age, we’re taught to forgive people because it’s “the right thing to do.” Yet, why is it so hard for us to do? Sometimes, what is right can also be the most difficult. We don’t expect it to get easier over time, but we’d like to offer our insights that may help shed light on something that could’ve been missed. Psych2Go shares with you 5 reasons why it’s hard to forgive people:

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1. Language gives us the ability to hold onto memories longer.

According to physicist and software engineer Frank Heile, forgiving is difficult because the human consciousness has a hard time living in the present. Heile states that with language intertwined in the human consciousness, we use it as a time machine to roam in our memories. Although meditation is a way to empty unwanted thoughts that weigh us down, it is language that distracts us. When we think about a past that haunts us or the way we felt hurt by someone’s words or actions, it causes us to latch onto those moments. As a result, we get stuck and find it hard to move on. The more we think about the past, the stronger the attachment, and thus forgiveness is put off like an unfulfilled chore.

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2. There’s too much anger that causes a lack of self-control.

When you’re angry, the emotion can be so strong and blinding that forgiveness will be the last thing on your mind. But more often than not, we may choose to be angry about a situation because it feels right to us. As a result, anger is used as a false sense of empowerment to justify the way we refuse to approach the problem directly. My cousin states, “Many things we hold onto is a mere distraction from the real problems we’re observing. Emotions and impulses have their place. But an unbiased perspective is more important for progress.” Forgiveness comes from a place of understanding. When we hold onto excuses to feed our self-righteous attitude, we stop ourselves from wanting to understand and only allow ourselves to see what we want to see.

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3. You may be scared to forgive, in fear of getting hurt again.

Perhaps you’re used to the same behaviors or actions repeating and don’t want to be disappointed again. As a result, you end up shutting yourself away, which doesn’t leave you any room to forgive. This is a defense mechanism you may have developed over time to protect yourself from getting hurt again. Or perhaps you’re the one who is scared to ask for forgiveness because you fear letting others down again. Regardless of where you stand in the situation, your mind may be going through some preconceived notions based on past experiences.

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4. You may believe that the person who offended you deserves punishment.

When you hold a grudge against someone, it may be your attempt at punishing them. This is how you gain a sense of control and power after feeling hurt or victimized. But sometimes that punishment can be unresponsive and ineffective if the person isn’t aware that they have offended you. In reality, you may be carrying the heavy burden of a grudge while the other person is moving on with their life.

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5. You feel misunderstood and find it hard to trust or let the offensive party in.

You may find it difficult to forgive someone if they never made you feel understood or heard. So, it’s easier to justify your decision to hold onto that resentment. After all, why should you forgive the other person when they didn’t treat you well, right? But this only causes the both of you to build your walls higher. As a result, you’re not really avoiding each other, but rather the problems you’ve chosen not to address and work with directly.

What is the biggest reason that blocks you from forgiving people? Psych2Go would love to hear your thoughts! Please be sure to leave a comment down below!


If you enjoyed this article, you may also like 7 Tips That Can Help You Become a Better Person  and 5 Ways to Help You Stop Overthinking from Psych2Go.



Heile, F. (2013, March 14). Why Is Forgiving People Hard For Many People? HuffPost. Retrieved January 24, 2018.

Lundberg, G., & Lundberg, J. (2014). 3 Reasons Why It’s So Hard to Forgive and Why We Must. Family Share. Retrieved January 24, 2018.

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  1. This is all nice, but there needs to be a distinction between forgiveness and TRUST. 🙂

    Forgiveness is not the same as trust. Forgiveness is unearned, TRUST is always earned. Forgiveness is for you and your benefit, trust is for their benefit. Forgiveness reconciles is to the past, trust is the roadmap for the future.

    Just because you forgive someone doesn’t mean that you have to re-enter into any sort of relationship with them. Sometimes you forgive people, but then you may also need to keep them out of your life. That is just good boundary management. 🙂

    1. Hi Dante, thanks so much for reading and sharing your thoughts with us!. 🙂 That’s a great point you raise. I agree with you when you say that forgiving someone doesn’t mean you have to re-enter in any sort of relationship with that person. It’s all about letting go of the past and moving on where we don’t feel as hurt or affected. ♥

  2. miss/sir, can u help me ?
    i feel down and i felt i’m frustation from my situation

    1. Hi Charlene, thank you for reading. I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been feeling down and frustrated. What is the situation?

  3. Ok, so I have the problem where this guy has hurt me multiple times, not physically, but emotionally, and not in an abusive way, plus when we were in a relationship, he wasn’t as caring, but when we were both single he acted like he really cared about me. So, I have gone back to him multiple times, and confessed my love for him this past time, but he hurt me pretty badly. He lives in another state, but when I confessed my love, he didn’t message back, until he got a GIRLFRIEND, and posted about it. My question is, why does my heart still want to forgive him, but at the same time, my mind wants to be done with him for good. It’s like I want to forgive him, but at the same time I can’t.

  4. I was physically assaulted by my older brother!
    He beat me up real bad.
    I said I forgave him, but I doubt thats true, because I have nightmares about him. I would never talk to him again. He’s like a demon to me. So what exactly is forgiveness? What’s does it feel like? Relieved?
    At peace? I’m neither but I do know that what he did was the evil in him and his own mental issues. So I understand but I don’t think I’m really forgiving him.

  5. I feel that if God forgave all of us for our sin “then I feel that forgiveness is something that people should be able to do with no regret. Its ok to be angry for the moment but holding unforgiveness is a toxic that slowly kills. I’m a person that forgives easly.

  6. A lot of this is kinds knew but wasnt able to put into words. Thank you for that. I’m trying to gain some perspective on how to forgive. After reading a bit, at 37 i found that i havent ever truely forgiven anyone. Im a 1 woman man to the core married to someone that believes physical intimacy carries no emotional weight. Being cheated on in a normal relationship and its forgiveness is almost scripted. In this case the other doesnt truly doesnt know the pain they have caused on, unfortunately, multiple occasions. Not being understood in this situation is causing a major issue in allowing me to forgive. As a result i feel i may been passively punishing them for years. As stated in the article this led to wall growing.

    To the author, thank you again. Have learned a few things and, thanks to you, now have the word to explain myself. Keep up the good work


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