Forgiveness

Forgiveness can be summed up in a few words by saying it is the act of abandoning bitterness and grudges. To elaborate, when someone is hurt by someone they care about, they can either keep their anger inside themselves with thoughts of resentment and revenge or move forward and espouse forgiveness.

Forgiveness is the decision to abandon feelings of resentment, hate and hurtfulness and to let bygones be bygones. The offensive act against a person may stay with him or her for a very long time, perhaps forever, but forgiveness will help to concentrate on the positive aspects of one's life and will minimize the grip that those feelings have on the person. It can eventually lead to feelings of compassion, empathy and understanding toward the other person. By no means does it mean that there is a denial of other people's responsibility for their acts, nor does it justify or minimize the wrong that was perpetrated. One can forgive someone without actually excusing the act. Forgiveness helps bring a peace that can help people continue with their lives.

There are many benefits to forgiving another person. Forgiveness can bring about the following benefits:

• Reduction in hostility and stress;

• Healthier and more harmonious relationships;

• Lowering of blood pressure.

When one is hurt by people they trust and love, many inner feeling and reactions are evoked. They may include feelings of confusion, anger and sadness. The longer one dwells on these hurtful situations, small grudges fester and get filled with thoughts of vengeance and resentment and after a while feelings of hostility begin to emerge. Letting these negative feelings for the other person overwhelm the positive feeling for the other person can lead to bitterness against that person.

Holding grudges against other people can have a very adverse effect on a person. Unforgiving people will pay a high price because they are bringing bitterness and anger into every new experience and relationship. A person will not be able to enjoy the present, being totally absorbed in resentment and anger and always doubting the other person's motives. This can lead to depression and anxiety. It can lead to feelings of worthlessness and living a life without meaning or purpose. Slowly such a person will lose connectedness with others.

Forgiveness is a pledge that a person takes to a process of change; it is a commitment to a new way of life and relationships with others, especially those whom one loves. The first thing to do to achieve this goal is to understand and recognize the importance and the value of forgiveness and the effect it can have on one's life. When one understands the positive aspects that forgiveness can have, one can begin with the thought of forgiveness. One must then reflect on what has happened and the facts of the situation and examine how the reaction that it evoked has affected health and well-being.

Once that realization has been achieved, one is ready to forgive the other person who has done the offensive act. It may not be easy, but one must stand aside from the role of victim and release the power and control that the offending situation and offending person has had . Slowly, as the person gets rid of the grudge, life will not be characterized by how much hurt has been suffered. The person may even find understanding and compassion.

Forgiveness has a lot to do with one's mouth and less to do with the heart or head. If after someone has forgiven the other and is still talking about the terrible thing the other person has done, that is not forgiveness. Only after time has passed and there has been no mention of what the other person has done, then true forgiveness has been granted.

Avoiding forgiveness does not right a wrong; nor does it supply vengeance or even the score. It merely hurts the non-forgiver. The other person is in no way hurt by one's unforgiving attitude. It acts as a poison in the body which will slowly cause sickness and destroy lives and relationships. Without forgiveness most marriages would be doomed.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Forgiveness and the Healing Process: A Central Therapeutic Concern
Cynthia Ransley; Terri Spy.
Brunner-Routledge, 2004
Getting Even: Forgiveness and Its Limits
Jeffrie G. Murphy.
Oxford University Press, 2003
Wounds Not Healed by Time: The Power of Repentance and Forgiveness
Solomon Schimmel.
Oxford University Press, 2002
Toward Forgiveness: The Role of Shame, Guilt, Anger, and Empathy
Konstam, Varda; Chernoff, Miriam; Deveney, Sara.
Counseling and Values, Vol. 46, No. 1, October 2001
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Forgiving: What Mental Health Counselors Are Telling Us
Konstam, Varda; Marx, Fern; Schurer, Jennifer; Harrington, Anne; Lombardo, Nancy Emerson; Deveney, Sara.
Journal of Mental Health Counseling, Vol. 22, No. 3, July 2000
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Compassion: Conceptualisations, Research, and Use in Psychotherapy
Paul Gilbert.
Routledge, 2005
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 6 "Compassion and Forgiveness: Implications for Psychotherapy"
Handbook of Positive Psychology
C. R. Snyder; Shane J. Lopez.
Oxford University Press, 2002
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 32 "The Psychology of Forgiveness"
Handbook of Moral Behavior and Development
William M. Kurtines; Jacob L. Gewirtz.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, vol.1, 1991
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "The Moral Development of Forgiveness"
Overcoming Interpersonal Offenses: Is Forgiveness the Only Way to Deal with Unforgiveness? (Research)
Wade, Nathaniel G.; Worthington, Everett L., Jr.
Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD, Vol. 81, No. 3, Summer 2003
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Evolution of the Psyche
David H. Rosen; Michael C. Luebbert.
Praeger Publishers, 1999
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 10 "The Survival Value of Forgiveness"
A Clinician's Guide to Maintaining and Enhancing Close Relationships
John H. Harvey; Amy Wenzel.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2002
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 13 "Forgiveness: Toward a Public Health Approach to Intervention"
Hope-Focused and Forgiveness-Based Group Interventions to Promote Marital Enrichment. (Research)
Ripley, Jennifer S.; Worthington, Everett L., Jr.
Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD, Vol. 80, No. 4, Fall 2002
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Adult Learning and Development: Perspectives from Educational Psychology
M. Cecil Smith; Thomas Pourchot.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1998
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 12 "Forgiveness Education with Adult Learners"
Meanings of Touch and Forgiveness: A Hermeneutic Phenomenological Inquiry
Ferch, Shann R.
Counseling and Values, Vol. 44, No. 3, April 2000
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
The Therapeutic Use of Forgiveness in Healing Intergenerational Pain
Murray, Robert J.
Counseling and Values, Vol. 46, No. 3, April 2002
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
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