Premature forgiveness is the process of forgiving when you haven’t actually voiced or processed your pain, usually due to outside pressure to “keep the peace” or “forgive and forget.” It stifles true growth and transformation, allows continued harm, and leads to resentment. Instead of rushing into premature forgiveness, explore the value and sensation of authentic forgiveness.

What Is Authentic Forgiveness?

We have to accept the legitimacy of our pain before it can be fully transformed.

In order for forgiveness to be authentic, we have to acknowledge the reality of the transgression that occurred and the legitimacy of our resultant anger. Depending on the level of conflict, it can take a while. We give away our power when we dismiss the intensity of our anger or don’t take the time to really unpack what is beneath it.

Forgiveness of self and other is the ultimate liberator—but only if it is the byproduct of an authentic transformation. 

It can’t be faked. You can tell by listening to your body—there will still be tension, even if your mind is saying “I forgive.”

A Path to Authentic Forgiveness

Authentic forgiveness is the end result of a process. The process may not be in the order below and some steps may need to be revisited many times.

1. Own Your Anger

Owning your anger is a form of owning your worth.

Take the time you need to understand what your anger is really about. Allow anger to energize you in your quest for what is right and true for you. Ultimately, it’s not really about the other person who made you angry, it’s about utilizing the situation to discover a deeper level of insight and truth within yourself.

2. Seek Genuine Readiness

Waiting until you are genuinely ready to forgive is a way of resting in your power and integrity.

One of the most empowering things I’ve ever done is allowed myself to process my anger with an open-ended timeline while in the midst of a major conflict. While the other person was pressuring me to forgive and forget, I respectfully said that I needed to take time and space to fully process my feelings.

3. Process Your Pain

Forgiveness was the natural result of processing my pain all the way through until nothing was left but love—love for the other person, love for myself, love for Life. By taking the time to bring awareness to the complex feelings under the anger, the conflict had served its purpose to deliver me to a deeper level of intimacy with Life. Even though the relationship did not continue, I was able to leave it with love. If I had forgiven prematurely before I was ready, the forgiveness would have been superficial, and the deep transformation would have been bypassed.

Do Not Rush Into Premature Forgiveness

Instead of prematurely forgiving, seek the depths of your grief and anger, remind yourself of your worthiness, and see the process as an opportunity for transformation.

Harness Anger For Its Gifts

In one of his poems, Hafiz advises the reader “Do not surrender your grief so quickly. Let it cut more deeply. Let it season you the way few human or divine ingredients can.” I would say the same about anger. Let anger ripen your soul’s truth. Let anger stoke the fire of power in your belly and the wild purity of your heart. When approached with awareness and respect, the energy of anger can be very cleansing and put things into a clearer perspective. It can arouse a deeper commitment to love more fiercely and to surrender more completely to what you know to be true.

When fully felt without a particular narrative or story, anger has a purity to it that is a straight-line into truth.

Conflict Is an Opportunity for Transformation

When conflict is approached with the attitude that it holds the opportunity for transformation we don’t feel the pressure to rush into forgiveness. We can let ourselves marinate in the in-between space between anger and forgiveness where a deeper truth can be revealed—potentially a deeper truth that can change your life.

Feeling like a victim, feeling helpless and in despair are completely valid, temporary feelings in the cycle of wounding and healing. Just don’t get stuck there—let it continue to move through you organically so that it can ultimately transport you to wisdom.

Rage is a powerful emotion and needs to be processed in a safe, supportive environment. Finding a safe place to process our anger and rage is an important form of self-care.

Remember Your Worthiness

You are worth the time it takes to process your pain. Imagine all the women of the world tapping into their anger and using that powerful energy in a way that liberates everyone, a way that gets to the deeper truth in the heart of all people that is waiting to be summoned forth in a larger way.

We are powerful beings. Sometimes our power can take the form of anger. This anger can be used as a force for good, a force for truth. This is the power of Kali, the embodiment of the destructive power that clears the way for a new life.

Anger Is an Indicator of the Need for Change

Anger is our body’s way of saying “Something in my life needs to change in order for me to fully live.”

The wisdom available in our anger is needed right now in the world. And it’s part of the reason women’s voices have been silenced for so long. It’s time to claim the right to be angry and to own the legitimacy of our anger in ways that model a new level of integrity and self-love to the collective communities we are a part of.

Questions for Contemplation: Don’t Rush Into Premature Forgiveness

  • Are there any old resentments in your life that need to be acknowledged?
  • How can you work with your anger to empower your growth and transformation?
  • What in your life needs to end so that you can live a fuller, more authentic life?