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Forgiveness or Acceptance?

There is much in current thinking about forgiveness. It is being spoken about in religious, “pop” psychology, 12 step, and “new age” circles. The basic premises, as I understand them are: 1)When we hold onto a grudge or resentment we are only burdening ourselves, and tethering ourselves to our past. 2)The offending person is, after all, flawed and damaged, and their “true self” would not have acted in such a harmful way. 3)We might be mis-remembering or distorting the painful event(s). 4)As related to #1, forgiveness is for our own benefit, teaching ourselves to expand our hearts and our capacity to extend love, even in difficult or dire circumstances. 5)It is a way to try to continue an otherwise intolerable relationship. I would like to suggest that these positions are based on mistaken premises. In shorthand, “forgiveness is highly overrated”. This is not to say that I am dismissing forgiveness. It is a precious experience of repair in an actual relationship, and requires that both parties be present and emotionally available. So, let’s say I were to act out of anger, or through a lack of awareness, or through selfishness, etc. and injure another person. This would clearly cause emotional damage to the person, and (if I knew this person) to our relationship. In this actual relationship, if I am faced with the harm that I caused, I may feel a resonant pain, and remorse. “I see how I hurt you; your hurt evokes a pain in me. I truly feel badly for how I affected you.” If you believe my reaction, and are touched by my remorse, forgiveness...