Trying to push or bully yourself into forgiving too soon, or not using some type of deliberate forgiveness process (such as the Four Steps to Forgiveness) leads to False Forgiveness. False Forgiveness is where reconciliation happens, but no real forgiveness work has been done.
False Forgiveness come out of not fully accepting how hurtful an experience was (avoiding painful feelings), rushing the forgiveness process, or even not having any kind of forgiveness process and assuming that we can just decide to forgive and then sweep it all under the carpet.
False Forgiveness also tends to happen when people ignore their gut feelings and decide to forgive as they think it is the “nice” thing to do. Even thought they know the other person is highly likely to do the same thing again they feel they “should” forgive. They are not really forgiving as they are just building up resentment and creating a lot of anxiety waiting for the next time it will happen. They are using “forgiveness” as an excuse to tolerate bad behavior, so the do not get the sense of freedom and lightness that true forgiveness brings.
True forgiveness gives a feeling of freedom and lightness where we can see our way clearly and can make better decisions for our wellbeing. False forgiveness just keeps us entangled in the same situations with the same people. False Forgiveness comes from speaking or acting out of the belief that we do not deserve better or cannot create something better, so we “put up” with things once we have calmed down a bit. True forgiveness changes our perspective and frees us so we can create a happier life. True forgiveness connects us with our value; False Forgiveness keeps us disconnected from our sense of being valuable.
In a co-dependent situation, where two people’s patterns of addiction hook into each other, there is very little forgiveness present. It may look like one partner “forgives” they other on a regular basis, but really it is False Forgiveness as they are reconciling without any real forgiveness taking place. If there was real forgiveness taking place one person would become free of their entanglement. That person would then negotiate for the kind of relationship they want and if that wasn’t forthcoming they would simply bless the other and move on to the extent that was practical.
The thing to do to avoid False Forgiveness is to make sure you engage in a forgiveness process which lets you include you gut feelings. where reconciliation happens, but no real forgiveness work has been done.
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William Fergus Martin
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