Forgiveness is a gift that you give yourself, the other, and the relationship, even if you choose to not continue to remain in contact. The one who benefits the most is actually the one who forgives.
Forgiveness is means letting go of the anger, resentment, or grudge held against another/others. It is not a simple on/off phenomenon, but can be a process of letting go of the anger over time. One can feel total forgiveness in one moment, then find oneself subsequently feeling anger towards the person. That is okay.
I have discovered that some people have misconceptions about forgiveness that can get in the way of their ability to forgive:
-One of these is the idea that you have to forgive and forget. You cannot actually choose to forget, nor do you need to.
-Another is the idea that forgiving somehow condones the behavior. It ABSOLUTELY DOES NOT. One MUST separate the person from the behavior. That way one can see a behavior as totally unacceptable, and let go of the anger towards the offender, realizing that he/she was coming from a bad place of feeling ungrounded/unstable/affected by difficult circumstances etc. You yourself can think of times that you have unintentially hurt others because of your feelings, underlying issues, the dynamics in the relationship, the circumstances and so on.
Feeling that forgiveness would leave one vulnerable to getting hurt again would understandably hinder someone from forgiving. Fortunately, letting go of anger is completely separate from having good boundaries. You can forgive someone, and choose to have minimal contact with them — not because you are holding on to anger, but because you don’t enjoy associating with the other person. Perhaps you feel that that person is incapable of treating you the way you deserve to be treated, you find
them too negative to be around, and so on. Letting go of the anger toward someone is simply that and nothing else. It does not mean you have to have any certain type of relationship with the person, it does NOT mean that you condone the hurtful behavior, it does not mean that you should leave yourself vulnerable to be hurt, nor does it mean that you now trust the person to not re-offend.
When one forgives, the one who benefits the most is the forgiver, as he/she no longer has to feel the toxic anger in the body, having it replaced with calmness.
Forgiveness is not something to be forced when one is not ready for it. Wherever you are in your process is okay. It is something that can be facilitated with intention, however, going through some steps that usually lead to it.
Obviously, it is easier to forgive if one has received a sincere apology (see “A GOOD Apology”). If the one that hurt you is deceased or incapable of giving a GOOD apology, you can still receive one by experiencing what their soul/core/unwounded best part of them would say i.e. a GOOD apology, and trust that it is real because it IS what that part of them would say and feel.
Part of what facilitates forgiveness is trusting that the offender did not intentionally mean to hurt you, and that they are sorry because they care about you.
This is especially important when people are angry with a parent. As they forgive
the parent and trust that they are/were loved by the parent, it allows them to feel that they are loveable, which is, of course, crucially important for their own sense of well-being and their relationships.
THE DIVINE PERSPECTIVE
For me, as well as many others, the divine, unlike humans, cannot get hurt or feel threatened. Therefore, it cannot get angry, and so has no need to forgive. Instead, it has complete understanding of why a person behaved badly, and feels only compassion, and no judgment, towards the person. This is true even when the person does not understand their behavior, is judging himself, is in denial, or does not even recall the behavior. The divine has no difficulty in separating the person from the behavior, seeing the person as OK and the behaviour as not OK. This is what allows us to feel completely safe with the Divine. Otherwise, it would not be possible to feel completely safe.
In summary, forgiveness is a very useful concept for us humans, because then we are less likely to judge ourselves and others. Therefore it is common for people to expect that the Divine is also judging them along with their own self-judgement, and that they need forgiveness from the Divine. What each of us really needs is to forgive ourselves.