The days, weeks, months and years of searching for forgiveness after infidelity or divorce can be very overwhelming and painful. Our society also seems to send a clear message about forgiveness. “Forgiveness is good, move forward in your life”, or “Let it go” for the purpose of being able to move on and be free. The truth is that forgiveness is much more complex and for genuine forgiveness to take place, it often involves more than just letting it go. Let’s explore some assumptions on forgiveness.
What Does it Mean to Forgive?
Forgiveness defined in the dictionary says “to cease to feel resentment against or to grant a pardon.” Most of us carry many assumptions about forgiveness. The first step in considering whether to forgive somebody is to review some common assumptions.
- Forgiving is good for you. When you choose to forgive, you let the poisonous feelings out. If you choose not to forgive you will get sick and suffer.
The truth is that
- You can heal yourself with or without forgiving, you can choose acceptance
- You can release your bitter and unhealthy preoccupation with or without forgiving
- You can make peace with yourself and come to terms with what happened with or without forgiving
Three Kinds of Forgiveness
There are three kinds of forgiveness as introduced by Dr. Janis Abrams Spring; Cheap Forgiveness, Refusing to Forgive and Genuine Forgiveness. Genuine forgiveness is often the type of forgiveness that people struggle with most. Understand that in order to accomplish genuine forgiveness, you will need the following three things to happen.
- Genuine forgiveness is a two party transaction, it is an exchange between two people bound by a violation
- Genuine forgiveness is conditional and often must be earned by a price an offender is willing to pay. If the work cannot be done, a different type of forgiveness would be more appropriate
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