How Can I Forgive You? The Courage to Forgive, The Freedom Not To
Forgiveness has been held up as the gold standard of recovery from interpersonal injuries. We have been taught that forgiveness is good for us and that good people forgive. In real life, however, hurt parties often find that they can’t or won’t forgive, particularly when the offender is unrepentant or dead.
In How Can I Forgive You?, Genuine Forgiveness is reframed as an intimate dance, a hard-won transaction, which asks as much of the offender as it does of the hurt party. Offenders will learn how to perform bold, humble, heartfelt acts of repair to earn forgiveness, such as bearing witness to the pain they caused, delivering a meaningful apology, and taking responsibility for their offense. Hurt parties will learn to release their obsessive preoccupation with the injury, accept a fair share of responsibility for what went wrong, and create opportunities for the offender to make good.
When the offender can’t or won’t make meaningful repairs for the damaged caused, Dr. Spring proposes a radical, new alternative to forgiveness – a profound, life-affirming, healing process called Acceptance. This can be accomplished by the hurt party alone. Ten concrete steps for healing the self are described.
Everyone is struggling to forgive someone. This book will help you rise above a violation, repair the rupture within yourself, and consider forgiving the partner, parent, in-law, sibling, child, friend, or significant other who has hurt you. For those of you who have wronged someone else, it will offer you concrete steps for earning that person’s forgiveness – and your own.
Beautifully written and filled with insight, practical advice, and poignant case studies, How Can I Forgive You? addresses such critical questions as:
- Is forgiveness good for us?
- How do we forgive someone who shows no remorse? How do we heal ourselves?
- How can we overcome our obsessive preoccupation with the offender and get on with our lives?
- Why should forgiveness be the job of the hurt party alone? Shouldn’t the offender be asked to make good?
- When is forgiveness cheap? When is it genuine?
- What makes for a meaningful apology?
- Why is it so hard to apologize?
- Why is it so hard to forgive?
- Are some injuries simply unforgivable?
“We are all social beings, all vitally interconnected, and we are validated and redeemed when others provide a soothing balm to our wounds and work to release us from the pain they have caused us. Healing, like love, flourishes in the context of a healing relationship. I would go so far as to say that we can’t love alone, and we can’t forgive alone.”
– from How Can I Forgive You?
Praise for How Can I Forgive You?
“If you are struggling with issues of betrayal – or the challenge of whether and how to forgive–here is the most helpful and surprising book you will ever find on the subject.”
—Harriet Lerner, Ph.D., author of The Dance of Anger
“A fresh and original approach to an ancient challenge. A clinically informed guide for the offender and the offended. How Can I Forgive You? should be read by us all.”
—Harville Hendrix, Ph.D., author of Getting the Love You Want
“Finally a book has been written that teaches couples how to make genuine forgiveness a reality without rushing toward a superficial peace. This book can help couples construct a marriage that never existed before, one based on deep understanding and trust.”
—John Gottman, Ph.D., author of The Relationship Cure
“This book is a treasure trove for anyone who has ever felt betrayed or hurt in a personal relationship. Dr. Spring cuts through all the cliche’s surrounding forgiveness and views it within a broad spectrum of common relationships – mother-daughter, father-son, student-teacher, husband-wife. We owe her a debt of gratitude for this enlightened and penetrating view of a universal human dilemma.”
– Peggy Papp, M.S.W., author of Couples on the Fault Line
“This book is a treasure – practical, authentic, illuminating, and wise. It’s like a breath of fresh air that puts forgiveness in a new and revealing light and provides clear steps to turn wounds into wisdom.”
– Joan Borysenko, Ph.D., author of Minding the Body, Mending the Mind and Inner Peace for Busy People
“Clear, insightful…a thoughtful exposition on the nuanced role of forgiveness in relationships that goes beyond the average self-help book.”