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What does it mean to forgive?

We are told to forgive and forget. But what does it mean to forgive? And how can we even imagine forgiving when it comes to experiencing trauma? Forgiveness can be a controversial topic when it comes to trauma, so it is crucial to identify what it truly means to forgive. Below are four different components of forgiveness. 

1. Full forgiveness: to forgive someone completely. This relates to the idea of starting over, having no connected resentment or hate, and the ideal “moving forward”

2. Conditional forgiveness: Think of this as being on probation. There is a willingness to forgive, but there are still emotional attachments to the circumstance and can come with a set of boundaries or rules. This can often be seen as lost trust that believes need to be earned. 

3. False forgiveness: an unhealthy and higher risk of damaging form of forgiveness. This includes ignoring or avoiding the emotions of hurt or resentment and pretending to forgive. It is the feeling of rose color glasses and sacrificing your own needs and feelings to resolve the conflict. 

4. Release: a healing form of forgiveness. It is the idea to forgive what we can, and letting go of the weight and processing what we can’t forgive. Letting go does not mean forget; it means heal. Part of this concept is forgiving parts of ourselves and having self compassion.