The tenth of 15 criticisms I see about forgiveness is this: When you proclaim your forgiveness, it only serves to make the one who offended you feel guilty.
To forgive offers a lot more consequences than just having the offending person feel guilty. As we saw in our point 9, forgiving can heal you, the forgiver, psychologically. Your forgiving can help to restore a relationship, if the other is amenable to this. Yes, your proclamation of forgiving may make the other feel guilty and this is a very good thing if the other is guilty of injustice. The feeling of guilt may aid the person in repenting and therefore changing unjust behavior.
I have to admit that as I forgive, my anger is not completely eliminated. I am feeling kind of guilty about this. Does this mean I am not actually forgiving?
Forgiveness does not proceed perfectly and often the outcome is not perfect. If you have done the work of forgiving and if your anger no longer controls you, then I would say that you have forgiven even if you have some anger left over.
False guilt occurs when you have not broken your own moral standards. For example, suppose you have to meet someone soon and you forget your car keys, necessitating that you go back into your home, find your keys, get the keys, and now you are late for the meeting. You did not intentionally try to be late for that meeting. You made an error and did not willingly break a standard of honoring the other person. Your acceptance of imperfection may be in order, but to deeply blame the self would be excessive and therefore in all likelihood is false guilt. Genuine guilt occurs when you have broken your moral standards and now you are feeling guilty until you make amends. As a final point here, sometimes unintentional errors can be serious enough to warrant guilt. For example, if you are driving in your car and texting on your phone at the same time, resulting in an accident, you should have been paying more attention to the driving. In that case, even without an intention to do wrong, the guilt would be genuine.
My adult grandson keeps asking me for a loan of money. I give it, he does not pay it back, and then he says that he “forgives” himself for the lack of payment. He then asks me for more money. Is self-forgiveness really this kind of illusion?
While genuine self-forgiveness can be helpful when people break their own moral standard, in the case of false self-forgiveness, the person may “self-forgive” as an excuse to remain in inappropriate and hurtful behavior. In such a case as your adult grandson, the false forgiveness might reduce guilt, freeing the person to continue the lack of payment with the resultant wasting of your funds. I think it is time for a heart-to-heart talk with him. He is fooling himself (but he is not fooling you) regarding what self-forgiveness actually is. In genuine self-forgiveness, there is an inner remorse, a genuine repentance to you, and reparation, in this case repaying the debt.