Forgiveness: Should I Or Should I Not Forgive The One Who Hurt Me?

When we feel offended or hurt by someone, negative feelings hijack us.

Forgiveness is one of the most important phenomena in our relationships with others. We have all ever wondered if that person who has hurt us, intentionally or not, deserves our forgiveness.  

It affects us, above all, when the failures to forgive come from people close to us, such as family, friends or  partner, relationships in which the existence or not of forgiveness can significantly harm our quality of life (and that of others). Now, does forgiving someone mean reconciling us with her?

Forgiveness, should I or should I not forgive?

It is true that forgiveness favors a reconciliation but this is not strictly necessary, in fact we can be in a relationship where there is no forgiveness and a painful fact has simply been “forgotten” or forgive someone with whom we no longer have no contact. The act of forgiveness itself is more of a process and occurs as time passes.

Well, scientists agree that forgiveness implies that the offended person recognizes that what has been done to him is not right and although he knows that the situation may not be justified and the person who has caused the damage does not deserve to be forgiven make the decision to do it.

Gordon and Baucon (1998-2003) point out that forgiveness does not mean having positive feelings of compassion, empathy or love towards those who have hurt us, as it can be “a selfish act” that is done towards oneself, in order to reduce emotions negative this it causes.

Furthermore, the decision to forgive does not exempt us from asking for justice and claiming what we do not believe is fair, as long as we do not act only in a vengeful way (Casullo, 2008).

Holding onto anger is like holding onto a burning coal with the intention of throwing it at another; you are the one who burns . “


Forgiveness is experienced at the individual level, there is a change in the behavior, thinking and emotions of the person who suffers it, but at the same time it can be considered interpersonal since it occurs in a specific situation and with specific roles: offender-offended.

The processes associated with forgiveness

In the last 20 years there has been a growing interest in the study of forgiveness in Psychology in order to address two processes:

  • On the one hand, forgiveness is a key aspect in recovering from emotional wounds , such as  infidelity in the couple, in which the deceived person may feel betrayed by their spouse.
  • As evidenced by the association in numerous studies between forgiveness and health, both physical and mental.

Types of forgiveness

From the perspective of those who have felt hurt in close and more everyday relationships, we can find three types of forgiveness:

  • The episodic forgiveness: related to a particular offense within a specific situation.
  • Dyadic forgiveness: the propensity to forgive within a relationship, such as a couple or a family.
  • Dispositional forgiveness: personality trait of a person, his willingness to forgive as time passes and through different situations.

These three elements together influence our ability to forgive and the way we choose to forgive.

Stances on forgiveness

There are three positions regarding forgiveness, which predispose us in one way or another when trying to answer the question of how to forgive. These are the following:

1. The first and most widespread position. He perceives forgiveness as essential for the healing of emotional wounds and highlights how beneficial it is for health, physical and mental. It is very useful for treating feelings of anxiety and anger as well as a very effective clinical tool for people with  post-traumatic stress disorder. Values of compassion and humility are attributed to her.

2. The second position has a different vision of forgiveness compared to the first. He considers that in some cases not forgiving is also beneficial, since not doing so can be detrimental to the person who forgives and can put groups that are in vulnerable situations at risk, such as  abuse or mistreatment. The values ​​they uphold are fairness, justice and empowerment.

3. The third position is at the intermediate level of the previous two. It emphasizes the context in which forgiveness is given and therefore each situation should be assessed.

The decision to forgive or not is up to the person who has been offended, and can be introduced at a therapeutic level as long as the patient freely decides. Therefore, from this view, forgiveness can be both positive and negative, depending on the context where the events occur.

Factors that influence forgiveness

In order to delve a little deeper into the world of forgiveness, the main characteristics or variables that will affect the final decision are described:

Exoneration: it is an internal process in which the injured person analyzes and understands in more depth the situation that causes harm. (Hargrave & Sells, 1997).

  • Characteristics of the forgiver : it depends on whether we think that the person has acted to harm us, or even if we think that he has not done so willingly, the more benevolent we perceive the actions of the other, the more likely we will agree to forgive him. On the other hand, people who are willing to forgive have a greater ability to control their emotions, just as people with anxiety or depression find it more difficult to forgive.
  • Characteristics of the offense : the more serious the offense is considered, the less likely forgiveness exists.
  • Characteristics of the offender : the fact of acknowledging the facts humbly and apologizing sincerely favors the appearance of forgiveness.

Forgive yourself

Forgiveness can be focused towards relationships with other people, but it can also be towards oneself, that is, towards self-image and self-concept. Knowing how to successfully manage forgiveness towards oneself means having more or less success in not being invaded by the discomfort that guilt can produce .

Ho’oponopono: a philosophy of life based on forgiveness

If you think you need to forgive yourself and others in order to be happy, the Hawaiian philosophy called Ho’oponopono may help. You can discover it by visiting this article:

“Ho’oponopono: healing through forgiveness”

Bibliographic references:

  • Guzmán, Monica. (2010). Forgiveness in Close Relationships: Conceptualization from a Psychological Perspective and Implications for the Clinical Practice. Psykhe (Santiago), 19 (1), 19-30. Retrieved November 28, 2014, from http: // Script = sci_arttext … 10.4067 / S0718-22282010000100002.

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