The Principles and Process of Healthy Forgiveness
To "Forgive and Forget" is not healthy. Instead, aim to "Forgive and Remember".
It is important to recognize the related circumstances and reasons why the hurtful event happened.
Healthy Forgiveness is a process, not an event.
It is not some instantaneous feeling that immediately occurs following a hurtful event
Forgiveness benefits the person wronged, far more than the person being forgiven.
It enables the person wronged to rid themselves of the burden of bitterness, resentment and desire for retaliation. This prevents the erosion of personal well being.
Forgiveness of another can occur without the offending party being alive or present.
It is a process that starts within the person wronged, then (if possible) offered to the offender.
Acknowledge the Emotional Impact of The Perpetrator's Act
- Validate the underlying painful feelings that the hurtful or offending act caused
- Work through such feelings by embracing one's own power to self heal
Understand the Perspective of the Perpetrator and Give Meaning to the Act
- It helps to make sense of what happened, even if the reason is irrational or unacceptable
- Accept that some hurtful events may be random
Re-Establish Trust in Oneself and Sense of Safety
- Determine what one can do to prevent being subjected to or re-experiencing the event
- Hold the perpetrator accountable by following through (if possible) with reasonable actions, such as pursuing criminal charges (if applicable), restitution or apology
- Accept one's own role (if applicable) in the hurtful event, without engaging in self-blame. Instead, learn how and commit to behave differently in the future.
Let Go, Move On and Re-Establish One's Peace
- Embrace one's power by surrendering the right to get stuck in pain or desire to repeatedly punish the offender (beyond whatever reasonable act of atonement or repayment that was sought)
- Accept the reality and limits of what one can and cannot do (e.g. if the perpetrator does not atone or apologize for the hurtful act; or if justice does not occur)
- Decide to be happy and to not allow oneself to be defined or ruled by the hurtful event