FORGIVENESS IN RELATIONSHIPS

“If you are looking for love and not finding it, it is no doubt because of a lack of forgiveness in some area of your life. This is true for everyone. Look at your life, your past, all of your relationships and ask yourself, ‘Where have I not forgiven?’ Myself, my parents, my siblings, my friends…When you forgive, you release the energy that allows the law of attraction to bring new love and relationships in your life.”

The Meta Secret

This year I have been reading the book, “How Can I Forgive You?” by Janis Abrahms Spring.

I have learned that holding onto anger only hurts one person: YOU. Forgiveness is a powerful tool that allows you to release, renew and sustain healthy relationships. It also gives you the strength to let go of people who are unnecessary and ultimately detrimental to your growth and wellbeing.

Spring describes four different approaches to forgiveness:

  1. Cheap Forgiveness
  2. Refusing to Forgive
  3. Acceptance
  4. Genuine Forgiveness

Cheap Forgiveness and Refusing to Forgive are dysfunctional forms of forgiveness, while Acceptance and Genuine Forgiveness give you, as the violated party, the power to come to terms with the injury and move forward to allow goodness into your life.

I’ll break it down as simply as I can:

CHEAP FORGIVENESS is a quick and easy pardon. When you forgive cheaply you do not process your emotions and do not come to terms with the injury. You are attempting to have a peaceful reconciliation, but you ask for nothing in return. When you forgive cheaply, you seek to preserve the relationship at any cost, including your own integrity.

When you REFUSE TO FORGIVE, your goal is to teach someone a lesson. Your anger is non-negotiable. Most people who refuse to forgive have negative assumptions about the meaning of forgiveness. They see it as being weak and vulnerable.

ACCEPTANCE is based on a personal decision to come to terms with your injury and move on. It allows you to take control of your pain, make sense of your injury and move past that injury. With acceptance, you take the task of healing into your own hands. You empower yourself and make peace with your past. Your offender does not take part in the healing process.

GENUINE FORGIVENESS is a transaction that requires the participation of both the offender and the hurt party. It can take years to genuinely forgive someone. And sometimes reconciliation is not possible.

When you forgive cheaply or refuse to forgive, you do not come to terms with your injury. These types of forgiveness do not lead to any kind of real reconciliation.

Acceptance has been the hardest form of forgiveness for me to understand. I have always thought that in order to have “true” forgiveness, both parties must sit down, have a heart to heart, see eye to eye, apologize, and move forward. But realistically, I can count on one hand how often I have experienced “genuine forgiveness.”

My problem with acceptance has always been this: How do you forgive someone who cannot or will not acknowledge your pain? How do you appreciate the magnitude of wrong that was done to you, grasp its meaning, grieve, and move forward?

I will be speaking about acceptance in more detail this week, but I would love to hear your thoughts on what YOUR definition of forgiveness is. Why is genuine forgiveness absolutely necessary for a healthy relationship? How is genuine forgiveness achieved?

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