Forgiveness is a conscious decision to let go of feelings of anger orresentment harbored toward a person who has committed a wrong. It can often help the one who has been wronged release any negative feelings and achieve a sense of peace. An individual who finds it difficult to forgive others for wrongs may be able to explore the benefits of forgiveness in therapy and as a result become able to forgive more easily.
What Is Forgiveness?
Although the term “forgiveness” may bring to mind religious concepts, forgiveness need not have anything to do with religion. Forgiveness also does not mean that one has forgotten or excused an offense, simply that one has recognized it and made a conscious decision to let go of the pain it has caused. When forgiving someone, it is not necessary that one also reconciles with the offender, and misconceptions of the idea of forgiveness may be potentially harmful, especially in the case of an unhealthy or harmful relationship. Some might be inclined to think that reconciliation occurs along with forgiveness, but this is not always the case. One may be able to forgive a family member, for example, who has said or done hurtful things, but it may be harmful, both mentally and physically, to maintain a connection with that family member.
It is possible to forgive someone without minimizing or denying the offense committed. Forgiveness may also take time, especially if the offense was a serious one. When someone causes significant harm, either deliberately or accidentally, true forgiveness can often be challenging. The manner in which a person is able to forgive others depends partially on that person’s definition of forgiveness. It is often possible for a person to forgive someone by developing empathy for that person. For others, forgiveness is simply the act of moving past a slight and not holding a grudge, while for still others, the process of forgiving someone requires repairing the relationship. While many people do feel that reconciliation is a step in the process of forgiveness, they are generally able to see the two processes as separate.
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