Forgiveness is the intentional and voluntary process by which someone who was offended, affronted or otherwise hurt or harmed in some way by someone, changes their feelings and attitude regarding the offense or the affront, and the offender.

The most important part of this working definition is that forgiveness is an intentional and voluntary process. That means, when you forgive, you are intentionally choosing to forgive; and the act of forgiving is a specific behavior; NOT a feeling.

It is critical to understand two things:

  1. The act of forgiving is very different from condoning, excusing, forgetting, ignoring, overlooking, understanding, absolving, pardoning, and reconciling.
  2. The purpose of forgiving is FOR YOU, not for anyone else.

If the act of forgiving had words the words would be:

I forgive you for not being your best Self. I forgive you, and by forgiving you I will no longer carry the hurt of your bad behavior with me into one more minute of my life.

Envision a long freight train with many boxcars. This approach is like unhooking one boxcar (the affront, offense, hurt or harm you experienced) from your train and setting it on the side of the track. This choice is, in essence, you choosing not to continue to be negatively impacted, influenced or affected by your partner’s hurtful behavior.

By embracing this approach to forgiving and forgiveness with your partner, you can step back into the richness and magic of your own life and your relationship, and not be derailed because of your partner’s momentary bad behavior.

And THAT is the point of forgiving: To stop being negatively impacted, influenced or affected by your partner’s hurtful behavior; and to step back into the richness and magic of you life and love-life as fast as you can.

We are going to get our feelings hurt by our partners, from time to time. That is just the plain fact. When we love deeply and open-heartedly we are hurtable. The more deeply we love, the more hurtable we are. That is the nature of vulnerability. 

So, post hurting event, please don’t lose one minute more of the closeness and yumminess you feel when you are being open-hearted with each other! Practice the art of forgiving often! 😊

If you could wave a magic wand, what hurting event might you chose to forgive today?

Original Content by Jackie Black, Ph.D., BCC