Forgiveness Is Not Condoning

Dr. Frederic Luskin, founder of the Stanford Forgiveness Project, points out, “Nobody’s ever taught us how to forgive. People have taught us how to get angry, how to become depressed, even how not to react with rage when life doesn’t turn out as we want it to, but nobody has taught us how to forgive.”

In fact, many people refuse to forgive others, because they have the mistaken impression that forgiveness implies a kind of tactic approval of the wrong that has been done to them. They assume that forgiveness entails welcoming the forgiven person back into their lives with open arms. And, especially when the wrong has been great, few people are naive enough to do such a thing.

Our strong survival instincts tell us it is foolish and dangerous to embrace a person, when we have evidence that they cannot be trusted. These are the instincts that have kept the human race alive on the planet for centuries and deserve our respect. As I assert in the introduction to my book, forgiveness does not equate with condoning. It does not mean that you must give up appropriate interpersonal boundaries or fail to hold another person responsible for their hurtful acts.

Forgiveness does equate with compassion for yourself and for others, regardless of the events that have occurred. Forgiveness requires a surrendering of our grievances to the perspective of the core Self, the part of all of us that transcends time and place and attachments. It involves a shift in meaning and perspective. It is in our power to forgive, regardless of the wrong that has been done.

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