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The power of forgiveness


How to forgive someone who isn’t sorry

How to forgive someone who isn’t sorry


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Forgiveness is often viewed as the “happily ever after” ending in a story of wrongdoing or injustice. Someone enacts harm, the typical arc goes, but eventually sees the error of their ways and offers a heartfelt apology. “Can you ever forgive me?” Then you, the hurt person, are faced with a choic...

Forgiving Someone Who Isn't Sorry

  •  How do you forgive someone who isn’t all that sorry, or who you can’t actually engage with?
  • Forgiveness exists separately from reconciliation, and also from accountability — which is why forgiving someone doesn’t require an apology or even their participation.
  • Reconciliatio...

Expand Your View of What Forgiveness Is

Forgiveness might be a step on the path to reconciliation, but you don’t have to traverse the full route if you’d prefer not to.

While forgiveness is separate from accountability, it’s not at odds with seeking justice. Many people think it’s either/or, rather than both. Forgiving someone ca...

Think of Forgiveness as Something You’re Doing Primarily for Yourself

  • Forgiveness does not require you to pretend the hurt didn't happen.
  • Forgiveness doesn't have to exist anywhere outside of you.
  • You are the one who was wronged, so why do you have to now give them something?
  • Once you remove reconciliation as a goal, it's easier to see ...

Don’t Let Fear of “losing” Stand in The Way of Forgiving Someone

Being willing to let go of the anger and hurt can be one of the hardest aspects of forgiving someone, especially someone who isn’t sorry or who hasn’t apologized. In these instances, it can sometimes feel like your wound is all you have: It serves as proof that an awful thing happened to you and ...

  • Hang on to anger for a short time because it shows you're a person of worth and dignity, and no one should treat you this way
  • Over time, it brings us down with fatigue, rumination, and becoming far more pessimistic in life.

The Uncovering Phase

The person who has been treated unfairly focuses on the effects of the injustice in their life. These effects might be things like monetary costs, lost time, ongoing anxiety, depression, anger, sleep problems, or a more pessimistic worldview. In a lot of instances, people don’t even realize how m...

There’s Real Work Involved in Forgiving, and It Takes Time

Researchers have led to the development of a step-by-step process for forgiveness, which can happen in therapy (ideally with someone who is trained in forgiveness therapy), or through a self-guided process using a workbook.

There are four major phases of forgiveness: uncovering, dec...

The Decision Phase

This is where you’ll determine whether you want to try to forgive the person who hurt you. And the answer might be no! Maybe it’s too soon and the pain is too fresh, or you just know you’re not ready to let go of the anger. That’s okay; this is a process you can always return to, and, eventually,...

The Work Phase

At this point, you’ll aim to broaden your narrative about the other person and develop empathy for them. So you might think about how they were raised, what difficult things happened in their life that led them to this point, and the ways in which that person is vulnerable.

You sta...

Work Phase: Standing In The Pain

  • One way to do this is to think of your pain on a scale of 1–10, and to visualize that amount of pain in a heavy sack that you are holding on your back.
  • Acknowledge that it’s there, be aware of it, and stay with it.
  • Don’t try to run away from it. Don’t try to take anything o...

The Discovery Phase

This is when you’ll reflect on the meaning you’ve found in your life from this experience. What we tend to find a lot of times is people become much more attuned to the wounds within other people. You may realize that you’ve become more patient with strangers, or less judgmental of coworkers or f...

The Act Of Forgiveness

Being ready to forgive someone who hurt you takes time, as does the work of forgiving them. It’s impossible to know when — or if — you’ll ever be ready. If now doesn’t seem to be the time, that’s okay.

We’re in relationships with many people over the course of a whole lifetime. Things can ...



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