Friday, April 4, 2014

So How Do I Forgive?

In my previous post, I began to outline forgiveness from a Rational Relating perspective. I discussed how it is a decision, not necessarily an action, that can enhance a connection with others. The consequences of not forgiving can lead to resentments, anger, stress, and ultimately the destruction of a relationship.

“But how do I do this,” I often hear. “That person really hurt me in ways I can’t get over.”  Forgiveness is not about getting over anything.  It is about getting through the pain and betrayal.  Here are tips for beginning the process:

      1.  Recognize the person who hurt you was reacting to some form of fear or pain of their own.
      2. Understand that most people react to fear and pain by hurting others, intentionally or unintentionally.
      3. Forgive your own participation in the hurtful event, no matter how big or small.
      4. Choose to be a catalyst for ending the cycle of fear and pain  by not striking back at the person, or intentionally hurting anyone else.
      5. Accept that your pain is not going to go away immediately.  But when you forgive you start to create a possibility for pain to be transformed into strength and resilience.   
      6. Remember, forgiveness is a decision, not an action.  You may decide to forgive your partner and still choose to leave the relationship.  Or you may forgive your partner and choose to work it through.  Either way your peace and joy are your responsibility, and your decision.
It is challenging, but not impossible, to regain trust and safety after one person has hurt another person in a relationship.  My book, “Rational Relating: The Smart Way To Stay Sane In The Crazy World Of Love” offers a framework that couples can easily follow to increase serenity and satisfaction.  It is based on nearly two decades of work with couples who have survived pain and harm with their spouse or partner.  Forgiving is a crucial step toward anyone trusting themselves ever again, and experiencing deeper intimacy with another.  

Damon L. Jacobs is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in New York who has helped hundreds of couples and individuals create joyful, peaceful, and pleasurable relationships. He is the author of the books, “Rational Relating” and “Absolutely Should-less.” His trainings have helped thousands to learn practical skills for living an empowered and fulfilling life. To speak with Damon about counseling, speaking engagements, or media appearances - please contact him at, call 347-227-7707, or visit 

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