Most people would agree that forgiving others is a good thing to do but why?

Forgiveness is a topic that gets a lot of attention. Most people would agree that forgiving others is a good thing to do but why?

First we need an agreed upon definition of forgiveness. Some people say that to forgive means you let go of the hurt, anger and frustration caused by another individual. It is definitely important to let go of hurt, anger and frustration so you do not poison yourself with negativity. But to say another person causes this in you, is a fallacy. No one can make you feel anything without your permission. So, let go of the negativity but stop blaming others for it. [Click here to get your free InsideOut Thinking Report.


Others will say that to forgive means you pardon the offenses of another person. I don’t believe one  person is any better than another. So what gives anyone the right to decide another person is in need of forgiveness. Isn’t that decided by a higher power?

And finally, some people think forgiveness means to restore the person to the level of trust that existed prior to the “offense.” This article was not written with trust in mind. I believe to forgive someone is best thought of as releasing yourself from negativity and taking responsibility for your own feelings. I tend to "trust" everyone that shows me who they are. I believe them when they show me. I don’t expect people to be something I want them to be. Rather I trust them to be who they’ve shown me they are. That’s not to say that over time, I can't learn to trust something different if I am consistently shown something different but I do not intertwine the concepts of forgiveness and trust. [See Secrets of Happy Couples]

Let’s take a look at three difference injurious situations.

In Situation A, someone hurts you inadvertently. A person did something without knowing and caused you pain. Maybe you like someone and he or she doesn’t like you back. Perhaps your friend has been so absorbed in her own life she has neglected to contact you in weeks.

In Situation B, someone hurts you, knowing that their actions will cause you some difficulty but does it anyway. Someone spoke badly about you behind your back. Someone promised to be in an exclusive relationship with you and they spent intimate time with someone else. You wanted a friend to do something important with you and he or she decided to do something else instead. Maybe someone even told a lie about you.

In Situation C, someone deliberately sets out to cause you great pain for the enjoyment of it. Let’s say someone physically attacks you, hurts someone you love as a way of destroying you or destroys something near and dear to your heart hoping to hurt you.

The severity of the offense is different in each case. In Situation A, the offense is unintentional, in Situation B, the offense is likely but not premeditated and in Situation C the offense is obviously deliberately hurtful and premeditated. How does one get from hurt, anger, upset, and mistrust to forgiveness? I’m suggesting that there is nothing to forgive. Let’s see if you agree. Keep Reading...

More forgiveness advice from YourTango

This article was originally published at InsideOut Empowerment. Reprinted with permission.
Article contributed by
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Kim Olver


Kim Olver, LCPC, has been featured in Whole Living, Women's World, Fitness Magazine and Counseling Today and is the best-selling, award winning author of Secrets of Happy Couples: Loving Yourself, Your Partner, and Your Life.

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Location: Country Club Hills (Chicago), IL
Credentials: LCPC, MS, NCC
Specialties: Communication Problems, Couples/Marital Issues, Empowering Women
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