50 thoughts on “Refusing to Forgive: 9 Steps to Break Free

  • April 16, 2009 at 10:42 am

    I couldn’t agree more. I was having a real problem with forgiveness, because everything I’d read suggested a reconciliation with people who had hurt me deeply.

    However, once I learned I could forgive without reconciliation, it made all the difference. And you’re right: the anger, resentment, and sadness was mine, not theirs.

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  • April 20, 2009 at 2:18 am

    u know i had the same feeling once ago <but frankly i can not be like these any more .sometimes u just hate and nothing but hate .u think it s ok but after awail ull be sad so the forgiveness is the best for sure .

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  • April 20, 2009 at 4:56 am

    I can not agree more, forgiveness is a gift we give to ourselves however, my grudge is with my mother. I can not determine how to forgive while working toward reconciliation. Any suggestions?

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  • April 20, 2009 at 5:59 am

    What if it is yourself that you cannot forgive?? Any thoughts on that?

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  • April 20, 2009 at 6:21 am

    atfer a painful divorce i forgave my husband and his adulteress whom he married two weeks later.there are still issuses that he refuses to finish and therefore there are always instances where i feel helpless in the forgive department

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  • April 20, 2009 at 6:29 am

    Forgiveness. I do not quite understand your definition …”peace and understanding com from BLAMING that which has hurt you LESS….” ??
    Would you please explain?
    I need to learn to forgive a person who has hurt me very deeply.
    Thank you.

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  • April 20, 2009 at 7:28 am

    I am visiting the US at this moment and living for my native country on the 5th of May. I am staying at Rockville Md 20850. Where can I get the book on refusing to forgive asap. Do you send it by mail in les than a week time? what is the price.

    Thanks for your prompt answer.

    Laura Lancini

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  • April 20, 2009 at 7:31 am

    How can you forgive the same person for the 100th time after they have repeatedly engaged in the same behavior and offense towards you — after you have truly forgiven them in the past yet they continue to lie and cheat —- now there is no more trust and forgiveness left in you and you are left with constant distrust, hate and resentment, and self doubt.

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  • April 20, 2009 at 7:33 am

    Anger and resentment one feels can spill over into all relationships if you’re not careful. These feelings can cause you be suspicious of everyone’s intentions. The best you can do is to understand yourself. Sometimes we create our own unhappiness by ALLOWING another to hurt us. Forgiveness isn’t only about the other person, it’s also about forgiving ourselves.

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  • April 20, 2009 at 7:37 am

    How can you forgive someone after they have repeatedly lied and cheated after you have forgiven them numerous times yet they continue to lie and cheat. I am left with no more trust and have no more forigiveness left in me. I have constant distrust, hate and resentment,

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  • April 20, 2009 at 7:55 am

    I have to agree with the comment above, I honestly thought that forgiving meant forgiving the person.
    My family had been telling me that it didn’t mean forgiving the person, but it wasn’t until I read about how I was holding my body that it finally really hit me. You completely changed my understanding of what forgivness really means!

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  • April 20, 2009 at 7:57 am

    How do you deal with someone who is perpetually committing acts causing anguish, chaos, and torment in my life, and also negatively affecting my children? I would totally remove him from my life, but he is my children’s father. Do I go through these nine steps of “forgiveness” every day? I find that often my anger is helpful, in that it motivates me to act in ways that protect me and my children. Any suggestions would be appreciated. And no, he’s not physically harming any of us, that would be easy. The harm is psychological and financial.

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  • April 20, 2009 at 7:59 am

    I found it very interesting and the amazing thing to me is that last night I started to make a list forgiving me for the wrong things I have made in the past til today. That was quite a job to be sincere with oneself. I find it is easy to cheat when you are doing it. Maybe because it is very sad to know you have been not as nice as you thought you were.

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  • April 20, 2009 at 8:06 am

    I really enjoyed this article but I could not help wondering why in my opinion, God was not mentioned? I feel that it is truely helpful to recognize that our sins are forgiven on a daily basis. This allows humility and reality to help ease the blow.

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  • April 20, 2009 at 8:54 am

    Hi! I agree with your article 100% as I am making a copy of it to always reread as a reminder. My
    question is “how do you get someone else to forgive and let go of anger?” I have a older sister who does not speak to me, my parents, her other siblings b/c her son has been into drugs and
    blames all of us b/c he will come to us to talk about his problem but not his mom, so she blames us
    and says we should butt out shes his mom not us. We all know why ” my sister has always been a screamer at her kids growing up and still and they
    don’t wish to dicuss things with her b/c she screams and can’t talk. SHe has not talked to me in
    a year and a half, only if she thinks I know something she calls me up with nasty language calls me names and them hangs up. When you call her back to tal she wont answer her phone. I miss
    her and feel for her b/c shes a very stressful person but I will not tolerate her speaking to me
    like that no more so we don’t talk at all. i also
    should note that I am the little sister and she has
    always come to me for help, money, etc,.in the past. She always blames everyone else for her problems when I beleive she is the one that needs
    to look at herself and get help. I have even offered to pay for counselling for her. I was gonna
    mail her a copy of this but know it will make her angrier, and suggestions or books I can send her?
    thanks so much and love reading all your articles.
    God Bless and looking forward to hearing from you.
    Tam

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  • April 20, 2009 at 9:41 am

    I am having a problem with someone who ended a 37 year friendship. I am in constant stress because she lives in close proximity to my house and every time I see her she has a sneer on her face or she makes some kind of derogatory comment. There is no chance of any kind of reconciliation but I always thought of forgiveness as being one in the same. I am in the progress of letting go of the anger and resentment that I have for this person and just letting her go and live in peace. It is only then that I will find peace to live my life without the constant stress that bogs me down day after day.

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  • April 20, 2009 at 10:35 am

    Thank you all so much for all your comments and questions. Learning to forgive can be a challenging process that requires patience, determination, and most of all a lot of compassion for ourselves. Writing a long comment here to address all the questions won’t do them justice. Because there have been such heartfelt and important questions asked here, I have decided to do a series of blogs that will answer these. The first one about how we forgive ourselves you can find here. Continue to comment here and stay tuned for the rest!

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  • April 20, 2009 at 11:30 am

    I was diagnosed with Post traumatic stress syndrome two years ago from what was done to me in a divorce in 1992. I have forgiven them but I cannot get over it. I have children that were brainwashed. I cannot see them nor a couple grandchildren who live 24 miles away. I keeping forgiving my children, it still hurts. I do not know how to let go of loving my children. I do not think it is possible. But forgiveness is the way to live. A nice live a good life a christian life or whatever you want to call being a good person.

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  • April 20, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    I’m currently working through my PTSD caused by past sexual abuse a family member did to me from the ages of 5 to 11. I’m also taking a sexual abuse recovery class and last week’s lesson was “starting to forgive”. I’m wondering if it’s possible to forgive if I still have intense feelings about what happened to me? I guess I’m consirned with forgiving too early and having it come back to get me.

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  • April 20, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    A lot of these comments are similar to what I am feeling. I’m not getting exactly what it is to “forgive”. “Grudge” isn’t exactly the right word for not wanting to associate with someone who is constantly self centered, manipulative and phony. How about when you just don’t want to be with inconsiderate family members anymore? Is that holding a grudge? I didn’t think it was but my mother accuses me of holding a grudge against another family member and defending everything they do. Which is also part of the reason why I don’t want to see or talk to her anymore either. I read the comment on resentment spilling into other relationships. Of course it will if the others are growing closer because of how they feel about you. It’s hard to help yourself separate from people or forgive when others are always trying to pressure you into just being happy about everything that comes at you.

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  • April 20, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    Hi Mandy,
    I think you are wise to take it step by step. I would bring up your concerns in the class. Remember, the process is just starting to forgive and it doesn’t have to happen all at once, in fact, it likely won’t happen all at once as much as you try. This is a process and a practice. Your determination, patience, and compassion for yourself can help guide you through as you continue to work with this. I applaud your courage and self love to begin this process.

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  • April 20, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    Here are parts of a great article on forgiveness:
    The Politics of Forgiveness:
    How the Christian Church Guilt-Trips Survivors
    By Fred Keene
    Many Christian clergy interpret the Bible to mean that survivors of child abuse, battery, and sexual assault are somehow supposed to forgive the perpetrator. It seems as if everyone in the world believes the same dictum: If you have been abused, you should find it in your heart to forgive your abuser. And if you cannot, there is something wrong with you; you are not a good person.
    For religious Christian survivors, such counsel adds horrible complications to the healing process. But even in its secular form, the pressure to forgive abusers is a powerful tool of social control, one that continues to blame the victim.
    The virtue of “forgiving those who harm us” is part of Christianity’s pervasive legacy to Western culture. It is invariably attributed to the teachings of Jesus as found in the Christian Bible. Ironically, though, there is absolutely no scriptural basis for this notion of interpersonal forgiveness.
    What the New Testament does say is that people with more power should forgive people with less power — or, as in the case of the first-century Christian communities, people should forgive each other because they are social equals (“brothers and sisters”). Nowhere in the Christian Bible is forgiveness even discussed, much less required, when the person who is harmed is less powerful than the person doing the harming.
    There are three words used in the New Testament for the verb “to forgive.” These three words — especially aphiemi, the one most commonly used for interpersonal forgiveness — are the same words used for acts of absolving a debt or releasing a prisoner. These are financial and juridicial acts, and the capacity to perform them could only belong to more powerful people in the society.
    When Jesus forgave people, it was always as a more powerful person. As an honored teacher, for example, in one of his most famous such acts, he forgave the sins of a prostitute. The only time Jesus was in a less powerful position was on the cross. There, according to the Gospel of Luke, Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Jesus himself did not forgive the people who were killing him. Linguistically and politically, he was in no position to do so. All he could do was to take a pass on the forgiveness question and hand it upstairs to God.
    But there is another, more political reason for preaching to the less powerful that they should forgive unconditionally: It protects the powerful. If a person with more power — whether familial or ecclesiastical or economic — does something harmful to another, it is very convenient to have the dominant religion teach that the person harmed must forgive the wrong. If the person harmed will not do so, then that person can be shamed and blamed for being “unforgiving,” and responsibility for the crime can be shifted from the perpetrator to the victim.
    This nonscriptural switch has proven extremely useful to the church. Having taught for centuries the necessity of forgiving one’s abuser, the church now uses the doctrine to protect abusive clergy, making survivors of clerical sexual abuse feel at fault. It is no coincidence that the very word hierarchy, in its Greek root, means “priestly (hier-) power structure (-archy).”
    If the actual New Testament teachings were applied, the result would be quite different. In the New Testament, the only way a person can forgive is to become no longer the weaker party in the relationship. Either the survivor must be raised up to equal power, or else the abuser must be stripped of power. One way or another, the former power relationships must no longer exist.
    Those who object to the idea that abusers must give up power often raise the idea of “repentance.” Just as abusive clergy often express sorrow and remorse (at least when they are caught), wife-beaters are notorious for saying they are sorry, in order to get their wives to take them back (at least until next time). But these are empty expressions of contrition. Actual repentance (as spelled out in Christian Scripture) requires a real, substantive change. The Greek word for repentance in the New Testament is metanoia, which means “a reversal” or “turning around.” Remorse is not enough; metanoia, repentance, means that the power relationship has to change. The abusers — the perpetrators of pain and injustice — must no longer have the power to continue their abuse. Put simply, the meaning of repentance is the giving up of power.
    There are two approaches to implementing this concept of repentance: the person with power must give it up — or have it taken away.

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  • April 20, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    HOW CAN I START TO FORGIVE PERSONS THAT HAVE HURT ME SO HORRIBLY IN THE PAST, I HAVE SAID AND TOLD MY FAMILY THAT I HAVE FORGIVEN THESE PEOPLE BUT I AM ONLY FOOLING MYSELF. DUE TO ALL THE SEVERE PAST ABUSE, CHEATING, AND A BETRAYAL BY A VERY CLOSE FRIEND, I AM NOW ON DISABILITY, SUFFERING FROM PTSD, AND VARIOUS MEDICAL PROBLEMS, FROM ALL THE ABUSE I CANNOT EVEN CONFRONT TWO OF THE PEOPLE BECAUSE THEY ARE DEAD. I TRUST NO ONE AND I HAVE NO FRIENDS. I AM SO LONELY YET I AM ALLOWING THE PAST TO KEEP ME IN WHAT I CALL BONDAGE. THERAPY HAS NOT HELPED ONE IOTA, AND I HAVE BEN TO SEVERAL. I AM 57YS OLD AND DON’T WANT TO LIVE THE REST OF MY LIFE WASTED ON THE PAST. I WANT TO BE HAPPY OR AT LEAST KNOW WHAT HAPPINESS IS AGAIN. WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP MYSELF ENJOY LIFE AGAIN.

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  • April 20, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    My sister, unfortunatly went directly behind my back to inform family of my being in her state. After a very sad funeral of our Aunt, in which none of her siblings attended I felt like I was there to represent her and her passing. My sister has yet to explain her reasoning. I feel so sad as we used to talk about everything and almost everyday to each other. I told her she had done nothing to me that needed my forgiveness, I only wanted to know why she did it.. I am so sad.. We have not talked since Feb. Any ideas or help?

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  • April 20, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    Forgiveness is hard but can be achieved maybe not on our own strength but with the Lord’s help…The story of my life has helped me to lean on Jesus my Lord and Saviour… He has helped me to forgive others and without HIM I could not have overcome the overwhelming pain and burdens in life. He bore the burdens and shame on the cross and He is the expert at forgiveness… He forgave us even when we didnt deserve it… His healing touch and love is so comforting… the bible is true and Jesus is real!! His blood shed for our sins is the most redeeming power of love ever!!! You can ask the Lord for help in forgiving someone and He will give you the strength… He will never leave you, hurt you, or reject you! trust in Jesus!!

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