We cannot change anything unless we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.
-Carl Jung

From "How Can I Forgive You? The Courage to Forgive, The Freedom Not To" by Janis Abrahms Spring:

Acceptance is a gutsy, life-affirming response to violation when the person who hurt you is unavailable or unrepentant. It asks nothing of anyone but you. Unlike Cheap Forgiveness or Refusing to Forgive, it is based on a personal decision to take control of your pain, make sense of your injury, and carve out a relationship with the offender that works for you.

Judith Herman points out in Trauma and Recovery that you aren't responsible for the harm that was done to you, but you are responsible for your recovery. In other words, your freedom lies not in protesting the unfairness of the violation or in getting the offender to care. Your freedom — perhaps your only freedom — is in deciding how to survive and transcend the injury. Don't underestimate this freedom: it's enormous. With it comes the power to decide how you're going to live the rest of your life. As you take the task of healing into your own hands, you empower and make peace with the past.

The Ten Steps of Acceptance

When you accept someone:

  • Step 1: You honor the full sweep of your emotions.
  • Step 2: You give up your need for revenge but continue to seek a just resolution.
  • Step 3: You stop obsessing about the injury and reengage with life.
  • Step 4: You protect yourself from further abuse.
  • Step 5: You frame the offender's behavior in terms of his own personal struggles.
  • Step 6: You look honestly at your own contribution to the injury.
  • Step 7: You challenge your false assumptions about what happened.
  • Step 8: You look at the offender apart from his offense, weighing the good against the bad.
  • Step 9: You carefully decide what kind of relationship you want with him.
  • Step 10: You forgive yourself for your own failings.
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