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How Can I Forgive You?: The Courage to Forgive, the Freedom Not To [Paperback]

Janis Spring
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 20 2005

Until now, we have been taught that forgiveness is good for us and that good people forgive. Dr. Spring, a gifted therapist and the award-winning author of After the Affair, proposes a radical, life-affirming alternative that lets us overcome the corrosive effects of hate and get on with our lives -- without forgiving. She also offers a powerful and unconventional model for genuine forgiveness -- one that asks as much of the offender as it does of us.

This bold and healing book offers step-by-step, concrete instructions that help us make peace with others and with ourselves, while answering such crucial questions as these:

  • How do I forgive someone who is unremorseful or dead?
  • When is forgiveness cheap?
  • What is wrong with refusing to forgive?
  • How can the offender earn forgiveness?
  • How do we forgive ourselves for hurting another human being?

Frequently Bought Together

How Can I Forgive You?: The Courage to Forgive, the Freedom Not To + After The Affair: Healing the Pain and Rebuilding Trust When a Partner Has Been Unfaithful + How to Help Your Spouse Heal from Your Affair: A Compact Manual for the Unfaithful
Price For All Three: CDN$ 39.85

Some of these items ship sooner than the others.

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Product Details

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Abrahms Spring, a clinical psychologist, follows up her bestselling After the Affair with this new self-help manual that aims to provide a better way to forgive or not forgive others. With the assistance of her husband, and in clear, insightful writing, Abrahms Spring draws on many case studies to fully analyze four categories of forgiveness: cheap forgiveness, refusing to forgive, acceptance and genuine forgiveness. The author is convinced that morally and spiritually a person is no more required to forgive an unrepentant offender than he or she is to love him. When someone who has been truly wronged and forgives too easily (cheap forgiveness), that person is not acting in their own best interest, but rather preserving a relationship at any cost. An absolute refusal to forgive Abrahms, Spring posits, is also harmful to the injured person. Although punishing the offender may provide a sense of power, it also fosters negativity and self-isolation. The author advises that when genuine forgiveness is impossible, because the injury is too great or the offender will not apologize, a better decision than holding onto anger is to work through the injury, or acceptance. This healing process will lead to emotional resolution and the ability to move on with one's life. Genuine forgiveness, Abrahms Spring maintains, occurs when both parties negotiate a process during which the hurt person expresses his or her pain, and the offender apologizes and takes responsibility for his or her poor behavior. In the end, this is a thoughtful exposition on the nuanced role of forgiveness in relationships that goes beyond the average self-help book.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“Spring really shines.... Armed with her insights, offenders and those they’ve offended have hope of recovery.” (Bellingham Herald)

“A truly stellar book putting forgiveness in a new, revealing light and provides clear steps to turn wounds into wisdom.” (Joan Borysenko, Ph.D., author of Minding the Body, Mending the Mind)

“This book is a treasure trove for anyone who has ever felt betrayed or hurt by a personal relationship.” (Peggy Papp, author of Couples on the Fault Line: New Directions for Therapists)

“Clear, insightful…a thoughtful exposition on the nuanced role of forgiveness in relationships that goes beyond the average self-help book.” (Publishers Weekly)

“A fresh and original approach to an ancient challenge.” (Harville Hendrix, Ph.D., author of Getting the Love You Want)

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fresh, healthy way to look at forgiveness April 8 2004
By A Customer
This book is fantastic. Instead of the typical "forgive or don't forgive" as being your only two options, it gives you a way to deal with, get over, and release yourself from past hurts. It's not always possible to forgive someone who's hurt you if they haven't shown any effort to repair the damage, and choosing not to forgive them simply poisons your life. This book teaches another alternative, acceptance, and walks you through the exercises needed to "get over" past hurts. One thing I really like is that it also helps you re-examine the things that have happened to you and look at them in an honest, broader scope. Bottom line--I think it's going to dramatically help me heal the numerous past hurts I've been hanging onto once I go through each exercise, and I'd highly recommend it!
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Courage to Redefine Forgiveness Feb. 19 2004
Having just emerged from a Kafkaesque nightmare where I was harassed, slandered and chased out of an intentional community by a sociopathic bully, Dr. Spring's insights are a balm to a tender soul.
Having been the target of overt campaign of "shaming, shunning and ostracization" I struggled with many conflicting feelings. The injustice fed into fury and I plummeted into a spiralling anger, resentfulness and obsessional thinking.
I resisted the facile advice of letting go or forgiving the offender. If only I could bring this man to justice, then I would feel better. When I heard Dr. Spring interviewed on NPR by Diane Rehm I recognized that my desire to "out" my offender would never lead to liberation and healing. I was entrapped in the quicksand of self-isolation and negativity.
After reading this book I was able to reconnect with my "inner goodness" and come to that place of "Radical Acceptance." I suspect that I will always feel some pain around this incident in my life, however, by embracing acceptance and the grief this process evokes, I am free to move on and persevere with the aspects of life that nourish me. I will never allow anyone intervene between my heart and my inner goodness.
For anyone who has been harmed intentionally or unconsciously by an abuser, bully or offender, this work is manna to the soul.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Enlightening Oct. 31 2010
I haven't finished this book yet, but I already know it covers every question I had, and will have, about real forgiveness, including of myself. I was skeptical that a book could change anything. Not so. Can't wait to keep reading. And by the way, I bought the companion book "After the Affair", by the same author.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars Sept. 15 2014
very helpful
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Author Spring Makes Valid Point! Feb. 5 2004
Janice Spring makes a valid point! Forgiveness is a two-way street. That's what the Bible says. Although offenders, it would seem, have a RESPONSIBLITY to apologize to the victims of their offensive behavior, a true Christian ALWAYS forgives his or her trespassers, even if his/her trespasser has not apologized. The ONLY Christian way is to turn the other cheek and forgive one's trespassers, not to DEMAND an apology or seek retribution.
Waiting around for someone who has offended you to apologize to you is a waste of your own time and energy and can destroy your own peace of mind.
Even when Christ was tortured by his trespassers and dying on the cross, He said: "Forgive them for they know not what they do.
Concentrate on today. Transcendental meditation can work wonders in achieving peace of mind.
So, thanks so much Janice for writing your book. I hope other will read it.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars God does not command forgiveness - NO WAY Oct. 8 2013
By Van42
It is important for Christians to stop using pop psychology to mislead others about forgiveness. This is an excellent book that gives an alternative to the well-meaning but absolutely misguided advice of the Christians that have reviewed it here.

Please read your bible and ask yourself why Jesus said 'Forgive them father for they know not what they do' and NOT 'I forgive you'. This is important. Why? Because it wasn't HIS place to forgive because the trangressors didn't REPENT. The entire bible says repent and you are forgiven. NOWHERE does it say go about destroying people, hurting others, murdering others and all will be forgiven. NO WAY. Without repentance there is NO forgiveness. Please don't pretend you are greater than God and use that hubris to say that you MUST forgive.

There is another way. Acceptance. You can come to terms with the past hurts and find peace but you won't find it with cheap forgiveness that flies in the face of God.
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