Forgiveness is a process where someone who has been wronged chooses to let go of their resentment, and treat the wrongdoer with compassion. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting or condoning the wrongdoing, granting legal mercy, or reconciling a relationship. You can forgive a person while in no way believing that their actions were acceptable or justified.
Individuals who continue to hang on to painful emotions related to a mistreatment—even though they have every right to hold those emotions—can receive great benefit from forgiveness therapy. A number of positive outcomes, such as reductions in depression, resentment, and rumination, have been associated with forgiveness.
The worksheet on the subject, Forgiveness Therapy, is based on a therapeutic intervention by the same name. This 5-page packet acts as an outline of forgiveness therapy, beginning with education, and then dedicating a page to each of the four phases of forgiveness - uncovering, decision, work, and deepening.
What forgiveness is:
The decision to overcome pain that was inflicted by another person. Letting go of anger, resentment, shame, and other emotions associated with an injustice, even though they are reasonable feelings. Treating the offender with compassion, even though they are not entitled to it.
What forgiveness isn’t:
Reconciliation (repairing or returning to a relationship). Forgetting the injustice. Condoning or excusing the offender’s behavior. Granting legal mercy to the offender. “Letting go”, but wishing for revenge.