5 Components Of Forgiveness

How do we forgive people who have wronged us? How do we move on?  It is certainly a process that takes time and energy. Since the new year is only days away,  and we all want to be able to feel free going into 2015, it seems like the right time to talk about forgiveness for two days.   Today, in the lists below, I have made a small beginning by spelling out what forgiveness is, and what forgiveness is not.

Chicago Botanic Gaardens

Forgiveness is:

1. A method (a process) of coping with your hurt and your experience of being treated poorly.

2. For your benefit, not anyone else’s; it is not for the person who hurt you.

3. A different way to think about your emotions and actions toward the person who offended you.

4. A way to let go of some bitterness.

5. A way to feel freer from the hurt and offenses done to you.

Here is a definition of Forgiveness that I like. 

“Forgiveness is letting go of negative feelings (i.e. hostility), negative thoughts (i.e. revenge), and negative behaviors (i.e. talking badly) in response to genuine injustice against you. You may, or may not, eventually respond positively toward the offending person.”

Whenever I talk about forgiveness in meetings or in groups, someone always asks, “What if I can’t forget?” or, “Does this mean that I have to excuse the behavior that hurt me?”

Forgiveness IS NOT

1. Forgetting – you do not have to make yourself forget the behavior or its consequences.

2. Condoning – you do not have to say or believe that the behavior was okay with you.

3. Accepting its continuation – you do not have to continue to tolerate the behavior.

4. Denying – you do not have to deny or overlook the behavior.

Tomorrow, The Basic Principles of Forgiveness and How We Got Into That Mess (in the first place)

The definition of forgiveness comes from M. Rye and K. Pargament’s article, “Forgiveness and Romantic Relationships in College: Can it Heal the Wounded Heart?” Journal of Clinical Psychology, 2002, v. 54 pp.419-441.

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