Ask Dr. Forgiveness

Although I value and try to forgive and mean well to those who harm me, I feel like that alone does not fix my wrecked inner world (lost trust, cynicism, depression). I can try my best to mean well, but that does not mean anyone else will. Does this mean I need more than forgiveness to heal?

You show insight in saying that forgiveness alone will not heal all of the lost trust, cynicism, and even psychological depression. This is the case because forgiveness does not necessarily alter the quality of your relationships.  Forgiveness makes possible a change in relationships because you are offering the hand of peace, offering a second chance to those who acted unfairly.  Yet, some people will continue to act badly toward us.  So, we may have an unsatisfying relationship that damages trust toward that person or increases cynicism toward that person. This is a problem of a failure to reconcile and if this is the case for you, then you might ask the person to correct the unfairness.  The person may not comply.  In such a case, please note that in your forgiving, you have done the best that you can.  Also, please keep in mind that you now, in forgiving, have a way of reducing excessive anger toward particular people which can be a protection in future relationships.  In other words, you need not generalize the mistrust to all people.  Some may accept your kindness and even if they do not, you can be free of toxic anger even if disappointment or sadness or even cynicism toward a particular person remains. 
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What does love have to do with it?  Do you really think that to forgive, we have to love the one who was brutal to us?

We have to make a very important distinction between what Aristotle calls the Essence of any construct and its Existence.  The Essence defines its purest form.  Existence is how we actually deal with this construct in the real world.  The highest or purest form of forgiving is to love those who do not love you.  This is its Essence, for which we have a possible goal.  In reality, in Existence, this is not always possible for us.  The legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers football team, Vince Lombardi, once said, “…..if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.”  So, we should be aware of the Essence of forgiveness so that, even if unattainable in some cases, we can reach a higher sense of forgiveness, an excellence of forgiving such as genuine respect toward the other, that might not have been possible otherwise.
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What is one major difference between forgiving other people and forgiving yourself?

When we forgive ourselves, we have broken our own standards.  When this happens, it usually does not occur in isolation.  In other words, we so often hurt other people when we break our own standards.  Therefore, as we self-forgive, in contrast to forgiving others, we often need to go to those offended by what we did and seek forgiveness from them.
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I am ambivalent about “giving a gift” to the one who offended me.  I do not think he will accept it.  This likely will make me angry all over again.  What do you suggest?

A complete sense of forgiving, or the essence of what forgiving is, includes this giving of a gift to the one who hurt you.  Yet, you do not have to reach the deepest sense of forgiving to be practicing this moral virtue.  If you are not ready to give a gift and if you have reduced your resentment and commit to do no harm to the one who hurt you, then you are forgiving at this point.

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