How to know that you have forgiven someone?

From Robert Enright

Video Interview Transcript

How can you be sure that you have actually forgiven someone? Just using the words "I forgive you" doesn't mean you've necessarily forgiven because remember forgiveness is what we call heart work. It comes from the heart. And so it's a softening of the heart in compassion and empathy toward the one who has hurt us.
So if I say I forgive you, I might just be in such shock about what happened that I think I've forgiven. But give me another month and I'm fuming with anger again. So proclaiming it is certainly good because your intentions are right but it doesn't mean you necessarily have forgiven another. When you begin to feel your heart softening a little to the other, when you begin wishing them well even a little bit where you hope that they don't slip on the ice and hurt themselves today, you hope that they're doing all right in their work today, even if you can't reconcile with them, that's the beginning of forgiveness. That when you begin to wish another person well you are on your way to forgiving.
When you see that you're not ruminating on what happened, we're not thinking all the time about what happened, when you think about the other and the pain does not wash over you, that's when you truly have forgiven. When you begin to sense that that virtue of respect is there, that you can meet them at the party and be civil, you can treat them as a human being, you are on your way to forgiving. And when you truly and this is the heroic endpoint of forgiving that not everybody reaches when you are truly out for their welfare and you're willing to go the extra mile with them, you're willing to help them in your pain, you're willing to help them in their betrayal, you know you have deeply forgiven. So forgiveness in its beginnings is a little bit of softening of your heart. It's wishing them well a little bit and the deeper side of forgiveness as you respect them as a person not because of what they've done but even in spite of what they've done. And then you are concerned for their welfare as a person. Then you know you have matured in your forgiveness.

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