Pardon: Should I or shouldn’t I forgive someone who has hurt me?

Forgiveness is one of the most important phenomena in our relationships with others. We’ve all wondered if this person who hurt us, intentionally or not, deserves ours sorry.

It affects us, in particular, when the faults to forgive come from people close to us, such as family, friends or partner, relationships in which the existence or not of forgiveness can significantly affect our quality of life (and to that of others). . however, Does it mean forgiving someone for reconciling us to her?

Sorry, should I or shouldn’t I forgive?

It is true that forgiveness encourages reconciliation but it is not strictly necessary, in fact one can be in a relationship where there is no forgiveness and simply “forgot” a painful fact or forgive someone with who we no longer have any contact with. Rather, the act of forgiving itself is a process and happens over time.

Well, scientists agree that forgiving means that the offended person recognizes that what they did to them was wrong and even though they know that the situation may not be justified and that the person who caused the damage does not deserve to be forgiven, she makes the decision to do so.

Gordon and Baucon (1998-2003) point out that forgiveness does not mean having positive feelings of compassion, empathy or love for the one who hurt us, As it can be a “selfish act” which is done towards oneself, in order to decrease the negative emotions that it causes.

Moreover, the decision to forgive does not exempt us from seeking justice and pretending what we do not believe is right, as long as we do not act only in a vengeful manner (Casullo, 2008).

“Clinging to anger is like clinging to a fiery embers with the intention of throwing another; it’s you who burn yourself.”


Forgiveness is experienced at the individual level, there is a change in the behavior, thinking and emotions of those who suffer but at the same time it can be seen as interpersonal as it occurs in a specific situation and with specific roles: offended offender.

The processes associated with forgiveness

Over the past 20 years, there has been a growing interest in the study of forgiveness in psychology to address two processes:

  • On the one hand, forgiveness is a key aspect of healing emotional wounds, As in the case of infidelity in the couple, in which the deceived person can feel betrayed by his spouse.
  • As evidenced by the association in numerous studies between forgiveness and health, both physically and mentally.

Kind of forgiveness

From the perspective of those who have felt hurt in close, more everyday relationships, we can find three types of forgiveness:

  • Episodic forgiveness: related to a particular offense in a particular situation.
  • Dyadic forgiveness: the propensity to forgive in a relationship, such as a partner or family.
  • Dispositional forgiveness: with the exception of a person’s personality, their willingness to forgive over time and in different situations.

Together, these three elements influence our ability to forgive and the way we decide to forgive.

Postures concerning forgiveness

There are three positions regarding forgiveness that somehow predispose us when trying to answer the question of how to forgive. These are:

1. The
first position and the most widespread. He sees forgiveness as essential for healing emotional wounds and emphasizes how beneficial it is for health, both physical and mental. It is very useful in treating feelings of anxiety and anger as well as a very effective clinical tool for people with post-traumatic stress disorder. Values ​​of compassion and humility are attributed to it.

2. The
second posture he has a different vision of forgiveness from the first. He believes that in some cases not forgiving is also beneficial, as failure to do so can be detrimental to those who forgive and can endanger groups who find themselves in vulnerable situations such as abuse or mistreatment. The values ​​they defend are fairness, justice and empowerment.

3. The
third position is at the intermediate level of the previous two. It emphasizes the context in which forgiveness is given and, therefore, each situation should be appreciated.

The decision to forgive or not is up to the person who has felt offended and can be introduced at the therapeutic level as long as the patient decides freely. Therefore, from this point of view, forgiveness can be both positive and negative, depending on the context in which the events take place.

Factors influencing forgiveness

In order to delve a little deeper into the world of forgiveness, the main characteristics or variables that would affect the final decision are described:

Release: is an internal process in which the injured person analyzes and understands more deeply the situation causing the injury. (Hargrave and Sells, 1997).

  • Characteristics of what you forgive: It depends on whether we think the person acted to harm us, or if we think they did not do it on purpose, the better we perceive the other’s actions, the more likely we are to accept to forgive. On the other hand, people who are willing to forgive have a greater ability to control their emotions, just as people with anxiety or depression find it more difficult to forgive.
  • Characteristics of the offense: The more serious the same thing, the less forgiveness there is.
  • Characteristics of the offender: Acknowledging the facts humbly and sincerely apologizing encourages forgiveness.

Forgive yourself

Forgiveness can be focused on relationships with other people, but it can also be given to oneself i.e. self-image and self-concept. Knowing how to successfully manage self-forgiveness is more or less succeeding in not being overwhelmed by the discomfort that guilt can cause.

Ho’oponopono: a philosophy of life based on forgiveness

If you think you have to forgive yourself and others in order to be happy,
you may find the Hawaiian philosophy called Ho’oponopono useful. You can find out by visiting this article:

“Ho’oponopono: Healing through forgiveness”

Bibliographical references:

  • Guzmán, Mónica. (2010). Forgiveness in Close Relationships: Conceptualization from a Psychological Perspective and Implications for Clinical Practice. Psykhe (Santiago), 19 (1), 19-30. Retrieved November 28, 2014 from http: // Script = sci_arttext … 10.4067 / S0718-22282010000100002.

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