Forgiveness may just be one of life’s most misunderstood concepts.

People often think it’s as simple as one party saying, “I’m sorry and I won’t do it again,” and the other party responding, “I forgive you,” and everyone moving on.

But that’s now how forgiveness really works. Words alone lack the power to change how you feel and they certainly don’t restore something broken.

We get tired of hearing or even saying the words, “I’m sorry” because we still feel the wedge of unforgiveness in relationships long after those words are spoken.

At Care to Change, we often draw upon the knowledge of Prepare/Enrich, who have developed assessments and practices to help counselors strengthen relationships. They describe forgiveness as the “decision or choice to give up the right for vengeance, retribution. and negative thoughts toward an offender in order to be free from anger and resentment.” Did you catch the last part? Let me write it again. “ give up the right for…” and “to be free.” Forgiveness is a process that promotes healing and restoration of inner peace. And, as hard as it is, forgiveness is required to reconcile a struggling relationship.”

Now before you jump out of this blog and go looking for something that feels a little lighter to read, lean in just a second. Remember forgiveness isn’t “forgetting, condoning, or perpetuating injustice,” not at all. There are actually six steps to granting and seeking forgiveness, according to Prepare/Enrich. Seeking forgiveness begins by admitting that the behavior was wrong or hurtful, even if unintended. It requires understanding and empathizing with paused caused. It includes taking responsibility and, if necessary, making restitution. It requires promising not to repeat the offense and it also means forgiving oneself.

Forgiveness is never easy, even with a specific framework outlined, but forgiveness isn’t optional in healthy, satisfying relationships. In fact, it’s necessary – and it’s on-going.

If you’re struggling with the ability to forgive your spouse or someone else who has hurt you, give us a call. Our counselors can guide you through the steps and provide the support you need along the way.

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