Implication: if you want to forgive yourself or another
person but retain bitterness, resentment, and blame,
psychological wounds. Then work to
your true Self to
your other subselves.
here provides an effective
framework and resources for doing this over time. If another person is unable
to truly forgive, view them compassionately as
not "bad" or "holding a grudge."
Regret, and Remorse
Think of the last time you regretted something. What did that feel like? Did
you blame yourself for not having recognized or done something? Did you
blame someone else for "making you" do something you regretted? Both?
Regret ["If only I had (not)..."] may merit grieving the loss
of an opportunity. It may or may not merit forgiving yourself or someone
(GWCs) (that is, their biased Critic, Shamed Child, and Perfectionist
subselves) are prone to blame the host person for things beyond their
Remorse is like regret with the added feeling of sorrow, as in "I'm
so sorry I (offended or hurt you)." Remorse can be
spontaneous and genuine, or dutiful and strategic. Sincere apologies are a
common way of reducing remorse and regret - and may promote
A primal reflex in some wounded people is "You hurt me, so I'll make you suffer." Such people may quote the Biblical text "An eye for an
eye, a tooth for a tooth, or claim "fairness" as moral
justification for their
behavior. America used nuclear mega-death as a response to Japanese
aggression and treachery in 1941. Opinions vary on whether we need
forgiveness for this from the Japanese.
Other responses have made global headlines: In India, Mahatma Ghandi answered British
oppression and violence with passive resistance. Martin Luther King
advocated non-violent responses to racial abuses in America. Many other
world leaders have sought peaceful resolution between warring factions.
Themes that emerge from these polar reactions to aggression and offense are
self-protection and the pursuit of justice and equality. Premise -
protecting yourself and your people from harm is morally justified.
Retribution if you and your people are not in danger is not. How do you feel
Premise - people who seek revenge for some offense are probably
guided by a primitive false self (wounded), and are unaware of that and what it means.
They didn't cause this, and cannot control it,
so they deserve
compassion and forgiveness, not blame. That doesn't mean
condoning their behavior or permitting aggression. How does your true Self
feel about this opinion?
More perspective on "forgiveness"...
Forgiveness, Shame, and
Most healthy people who offend others feel some
("I did a bad thing") and
("I am a bad thing."). Typical
carry excessive guilts and shame that can hinder or block appropriate
self-forgiveness. These can also promote dutiful (pseudo) apologies and
forgiveness of other people rather than genuine ones.
If you are
burdened by chronic guilt and
shame over old offenses or
and consider personal
Make guilt-free forgiveness part of your healing goals!
Forgiveness and "Sin"
Some well-intentioned religions teach young kids and converts that violating
God's rules ordained in their Scriptures is an absolute sin that needs
penance and redemption to avoid eternal damnation. Unless believers moderate
or reject this idea, they're prone to major guilt, shame, and anxiety that
hinder self-forgiveness and personal serenity. They're also at risk of
righteously judging others for "sinning," which hampers true (vs.
dutiful or anxious) forgiveness.
For more perspective on this complex
subject, see this article after you finish
Genuine (vs. pretended or strategic)
apologies encourage forgiveness. An effective apology...
and takes responsibility for some hurtful behavior,
receiver's hurt, and...
expresses sincere regret and/or sorrow for having caused the
Sincere apologies demonstrate
respect for the receiver. They
require your true Self to
Expecting, requesting, or demanding an apology will usually invalidate it,
because true apologies must be
("You're just saying your
sorry because I asked you to!") Some apologies are self-serving - e.g.
to reduce guilt and shame, rather than to express genuine regret and sorrow.
These pseudo apologies usually indicate false-self control, and leave both
people feeling dissatisfied.
Pause and notice what you're thinking and feeling.
Now let's use the perspective above to explore...
Requisites for Forgiveness
a child asked you "What do you need in order to forgive somebody?" what would you
say? The answer depends on who the "somebody" is...
validate your forgiveness "rules." Over your years, you've
probably evolved semi-conscious attitudes (good/bads and right/wrongs);
and rules (shoulds, oughts, have to's, and musts) about forgiveness. Your attitudes and rules may differ for adults, kids,
parents, spouses, authorities, hero/ ines, and other people.
For each belief or rule about forgiving people,
meditate on "Where did I get this rule? Is this my belief, or
am I using someone else's rule?"
Patiently trust your Self's
direction in evolving a set of authentic attitudes and guidelines, whether
other people agree with them or not. Reaffirm and use your
Bill of Personal Rights!
Remember the last time you did something that caused you significant shame,
guilt, and remorse? How have you let go of those feelings - or have you? Two
unconscious strategies that some wounded people use are
("I don't feel anything") and
("I just don't think about it.")
Another popular way is
to convince yourself "I had to - I had no choice." (justification and
rationalization). Another common distortion is minimizing - "Aw, It
wasn't really that bad." These are all false-self
strategies designed by diligent
subselves (like the
to spare your sensitive
from anguish. They are not self-forgiveness.
Implication - a requisite for self forgiveness is having your true Self steadily
your other subselves. S/He will own appropriate
responsibility for your actions, and will know what else is needed to
truly forgive yourself. That may include...
to stop them from ceaselessly blaming you;
to stop her/him from protectively distorting reality; and...
asserting and enforcing
with other people who need to
criticize or scorn you for your
reminding all your subselves of your rights
as a dignified, worthy person;
validating any rules your subselves feel you
Inner Kids with
significant broken bonds and lost opportunities; and...
generating compassion and
empathy for letting a false self take you over, and
working to avoid repeating that; and...
deciding if apologies are warranted, and if
so, delivering them promptly and appropriately.
When your Self (capital "S") does
these things, any significant or recurring shame, guilt, and remorse should dwindle, and you should be able to talk
calmly about your offenses and mistakes.
Requisites for Forgiving
The best case is...
true Self is
your other personality subselves,
the other person is guided by their true Self,
and takes genuine responsibility for their offense;
you use a respectful
to describe factually how their behavior affected you;
s/he expresses genuine regret or remorse, and may
either or both of you are able to discuss and fully grieve any
neither of you is significantly influenced by any
other opinionated or affected people.
The challenge is - you can't make the other person want to
their Self, take responsibility for and regret their offense, or want to avoid
others' influence. Those must be spontaneous. So what can you do without those
ideal factors? Options -
choose to believe that forgiveness is a gift
to yourself - i.e. freedom from stressful emotions;
stay clear that forgiveness doesn't mean you approve
the other's actions, and doesn't regain lost
These are separate issues..
other person as
- with compassion, not blame, hostility, or scorn. The latter suggests a
false self rules you.
Decide if you need to alter your relationship with
the offender in some way - e.g. setting some new boundaries. Use your
as a guide. If you do, consider informing the other person and any other
relevant people factually (vs. punitively) of your decision.
Two special cases deserve comment - forgiving your parents and your Higher
Forgiving Your Parents
Despite their best intentions, all parents and caregivers hurt their
children at times. The hurts range from minimal to traumatic. Do you agree?
Ultimately, it's up to each of us adults to evaluate these hurts, and decide
if we need to forgive those people who raised us for some lacks, mistakes,
Common surface (secondary) offenses include premature conception, child
neglect, abuse, disrespect, abandonment, emotional unavailability,
enmeshment, and harmful discipline. These do injure young
kids. Each of them is caused by
parents and grandparents being...
often don't become aware of their wounds and ignorance until hitting
in mid-life. Then it's too late to avoid injuring their kids. What
they can do is affirm they did they best they could, forgive themselves and
their ancestors, make amends where possible,
and work to
their grandkids and descendents from wounds and unawareness.
your parents hurt you "too much," you can choose to (a) harbor
resentment and anger about their surface offenses, or (b) award them compassion for
their wounds and ignorance, and appreciate the things they were able
to give you. The latter choice is more likely if your true Self is guiding