Dr. Jim Dincalci How to Forgive When You Can't

Myths on Forgiveness

What is Forgiveness?

Misconceptions & Myths


What is Forgiveness?

American Heritage Dictionary tells us that to forgive is:
To excuse for a fault or an offense; pardon.
To renounce anger or resentment against.
To absolve from payment of (a debt, for example).
More strictly, the dictionary says to forgive “is to grant pardon without harboring resentment.”

“Children begin by loving their parents; as they grow older they judge them; sometimes they forgive them.”
Oscar Wilde

Forgiving a debt means letting go of what was owed, and it is the same in forgiving an injustice. We are letting go of what we expect to get, whether it be an apology, understanding, or a punishment.

It entails letting go of the eye-for-an-eye viewpoint. However, we do not need to turn the other cheek to be hurt again NOR condone what was done, NOR seek reconciliation. These distinctions are important to make because, for ages, they have been the major objections to forgiving. Please see Misconceptions & Myths for further explanation on this.

Forgiveness is an act of will. Forgiveness is a difficult personal choice that relieves the forgiver of the effects of pain, hurt, resentment, and anger around a situation. It is letting go of animosity and ill-will. It is an act of courage because it involves letting go of an upset even though there is justification for holding it.

Forgiving is an art. It is a process involving the movement of the heart and mind toward compassion, love, and understanding, thereby relieving us of fear, anger, and hate. It is the ultimate human decision that brings us closest to the human and divine ideals of Love and Peace. Thus, it fosters healing of the mind, spirit, and even the body.

Forgiveness sets limits on our negative self-destructive thoughts. The point of forgiving is to be free of the pain of an upset that occurred in the past. Thus, self-forgiveness is also included and is extremely important because guilt due to past actions harms us in mind, body, and spirit.

Forgiveness increases rational clarity because it removes emotional upsets and stress that cloud our minds and hearts. With that clarity, rational decisions can be made in all areas of life.

Plus, forgiveness wipes away the effects of the past, be they 30 years ago or 15 minutes ago. This allows us to more fully experience the present moment, which is the only time during which we really live.

Forgiveness is the process of taking our power and control back from the other person. Through it we take back our happiness. Thus, our happiness is dependent on our own actions, not on another person. It is our decision alone. That decision can be made at any time. Of course, it is easier if the person apologizes or changes his or her behavior, but those things are not necessary for forgiveness to occur.

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