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

Myths on Forgiveness

What is Forgiveness?

Misconceptions & Myths

Misconceptions & Myths About Forgiveness: What It Is Not

Forgiveness is not condoning a bad behavior or justifying an offense.

It is not dependent on apology, or whether the person will ever be talked to again.

Forgiveness does not demand turning the other cheek to be hurt again. This has been a misinterpretation of of the Bible passage.

It does not demand reconciliation. Reconciliation, which is the coming together again of two upset parties, is not necessarily the outcome of forgiving. A person can forgive and choose to never see the other party again to protect him or herself from abusive behavior. However, for effective reconciliation to occur, forgiveness of the offense or offenses must have occurred as the first step.

It is not dependent on the other party being alive or on ever seeing the other person again.

Forgiving is not losing. Losing is having to deal with the stress of anger and hate in your body that ruins relationships and can even cause physical problems. What kind of winning is that?

Forgiving is not the easy way out. It takes more courage, authenticity, and integrity to let go of a justified upset and find peace than to hang on to it. It takes courage to go through the wall of anger and resentment to the other side, the side of our highest possibilities as beings.

The offender's apology is not necessary. In fact, the other party might not ever apologize because he or she has a different perspective of what happened.

Whether the person deserves forgiveness is not the question; he or she might not. Though forgiveness can be an act of compassion for another, it can also be mainly for the forgiver’s benefit so that he or she is no longer tortured by hate and anger.

Even though an offender keeps committing an offense, forgiveness can still occur because it wipes away the effects of the past—even if the offense happened only 15 minutes beforehand.

Out of sight, out of mind or forgetting about it might not always be forgiveness—this can be denial of the effect of the offense. Forgiveness is acknowledging what was done and choosing to let it go. It is not avoiding the offense’s impact on us. Avoiding just keeps the negative effects occurring below the surface of the mind.

These myths and misunderstandings about forgiving keep it from being done. I hope this summary has helped you to understand forgiveness and has moved you closer to forgiving.

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