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The True Definition of Forgiveness

The first step to understanding forgiveness is learning what it means.

Forgiveness is willfully abandoning resentment and related responses relevant to past wrongdoings.  Forgiveness is based on the moral principle of beneficence, including compassion, unconditional worth, generosity, and moral love.

Genuine forgiveness does not include condoning, justifying, forgetting, or excusing hurtful behavior. There is no letting time heal the wound. When one forgives someone, it doesn’t mean that they must feel positive about that person or move on without looking back. It also does not include letting the person know how much they owe you or using their misdeed as a weapon.  These are just a few of the common misconceptions associated with forgiveness.

Four Stages of Forgiveness

The uncovering stage is the first phase of forgiveness. The person seeking to forgive gains insight of how the particular injury or wrongdoing affected their life. This is when awareness and confrontation of feelings occur. Common emotions toward the wrongdoing include anger and shame. The goal of the uncovering stage is to discover how the transgression changed the individual’s view of the world.

The decision stage is defined when an accurate understanding of forgiveness is gained. The decision to commit to forgive is made.

The work stage is reached when a deeper understanding of the offender is reached. They are now viewed in a positive light.  This is the phase where empathy and compassion come into play.  This is the stage when the moral gift of forgiveness is given.

The deepening stage is the final phase of forgiveness.  This is when an individual may try to find meaning in the suffering that they have had to endure.  This stage constitutes knowing that they are not alone, and becoming aware of how forgiveness allows them to connect with others, and experience decreased negative emotions.

For more information on forgiveness, or any other mental health issue, we are here for you!  Please contact us at 832.421.8714.


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