Tagged: “false forgiveness”

Do you have some advice for me about helping a person to consider forgiveness, when this person is adamantly against forgiving?

A key issue is this:  Has this person misunderstood what forgiveness is, equating it with: a) weakness, or b) excusing unjust behavior, or c) being open again to abuse, or d) automatically reconciling, or e) abandoning the quest for justice?  Any of these misconceptions can make a person hesitant to forgive.  Yet, the person is rejecting, not forgiveness itself, but a false form of it.  Your pointing out how forgiveness is none of those five issues above may make the person more receptive to the idea of forgiving.  It ultimately is that person’s choice to forgive or not once forgiveness is more deeply understood.

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If I forgive and then do not want to interact any longer with the person, is this false forgiveness or what you call pseudo-forgiveness?

No, this is not necessarily false or pseudo-forgiveness. This is the case because to forgive and to reconcile are not the same. Forgiveness is a moral virtue; reconciliation is not a moral virtue, but instead is a negotiation strategy of two or more people coming together again in mutual trust. If the other’s behavior continues to be hurtful, with no change in sight, then your not wanting to reconcile seems reasonable, at least for now until the other truly changes. If, in contrast, the other is now trustworthy and you do not want to interact, perhaps you still are harboring resentment. In this case, continuing to forgive might open the door to a genuine reconciliation.

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