Archive for December, 2019
I understand your point that I can forgive a person who has died because forgiveness in this case is an internal transformation from resentment to thoughts that the other has inherent worth, with the accompanying compassion toward the person. Yet, what about a situation in which I want to seek forgiveness and the other is no longer among the living?
The answer depends on your belief system. If you are a secularist or atheist, you can go to the person’s family members if what happened affected more that the now-deceased person. You can describe what you did and ask them for their forgiveness. If you are a monotheistic believer, you can go to God and confess your transgression and ask for forgiveness. You need not keep the feeling of guilt in your own heart, but can experience relief.
For more information, see Faith and Religion.
Alyona Yartseva moved in 2015 from Russia to Kyrgyzstan (officially the Kyrgyz Republic)–a mountainous country of incredible natural beauty in Central Asia. As she pursued her new life there, intent on helping others improve their own lives, she quickly came to realize that forgiveness is a valuable commodity not only for helping people overcome personal difficulties but also for helping tame the ethnic, political, and socio-economic tensions that simmered there and in surrounding countries that had all gained their independence with the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Since Alyona moved to Kyrgyzstan, she has been on “a forgiveness rampage” that has included:
- Undertaking a 15-lesson online Forgiveness Therapy course administered by the International Forgiveness Institute (IFI) after convincing AUCA administrators to accept it as a fully-accredited graduate degree university course;
- Acquiring the Enright Forgiveness Inventory for Children (EFI-C), translating it into Russian, back-translating it, and working directly with Dr. Robert Enright, co-founder of the IFI, in modifying that research tool into what is essentially a new EFI Short Form known as the EFI-30;
- Validating the newly-adapted EFI-30 by using it, along with a checklist of physical health symptoms (a new measuring tool that she created herself), in a forgiveness research project with more than 150 participants;
- Participating in a four-month forgiveness intervention internship and conducting post-therapy interviews that “vividly demonstrated” to her the therapeutic effects and positive results of forgiveness;
- Conducting a hands-on forgiveness training program for her fellow-AUCA students to demonstrate the four-phases of Dr. Enright’s Process Model of Forgiveness and further expand the use of the EFI-30;
- Consulting with “no-charge clients” (as a student she cannot charge for her services) who were able to move towards forgiveness and improve their mental health;
- Obtaining and starting to translate into Russian Dr. Enright’s Anti-Bullying Forgiveness Program; and,
- Writing her thesis on “Subjective Effects of Forgiveness on Stress Level and Physical Health”–a project she conducted involving 150 adults of 3 nationalities and obtaining a Master of Arts Degree in Applied Psychology from the American University of Central Asia (AUCA).
One of the motivating factors for Alyona’s impressive foray into forgiveness activities was what she was unable to find when she was accepted as a graduate student at the AUCA in the capital city of Bishkek. Although she conducted exhaustive literature searches for anything related to forgiveness written in either the Russian or Kyrgyz language, she found absolutely none.
“As a believer in Jesus Christ, I’ve always understood the value of forgiveness but now I see it from a different professional perspective,” Alyona says. “I want to be able to demonstrate the effects of forgiveness (or unforgiveness) to my colleagues in Russian language publications.”
As Alyona looks ahead to the future, she says that once she completes translating the anti-bullying material she would like to personally introduce it to local school counselors. Following that, she plans to move to Uzbekistan where she wants to popularize forgiveness therapy among local psychologists. She plans to continue her forgiveness research together with a group of colleagues “who have a heart for forgiveness” and is pursuing foundation grants to fund their efforts.
“Dr. Enright’s Forgiveness Therapy is at the very top of my tool box as a counselor,” Alyona adds, “and I believe it is essential to promote and research forgiveness therapy and the positive effects of forgiveness in Central Asia.”
Alyona can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kyrgyzstan is a country in Central Asia–a region which stretches from the Caspian Sea in the west to China in the east, and from Afghanistan and Iran in the south to Russia in the north. The region consists of the former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. The United Nations also includes Afghanistan as part of Central Asia. The region is also colloquially referred to as “the stans” as the countries generally considered to be within the region all have names ending with the Persian suffix “-stan,” meaning “land of.” ƒ
Is it possible to live with unforgiveness and still be happy? My husband abandoned me three years ago. It was totally unexpected.
There is a difference between deliberately deciding to “live with unforgiveness” and trying to forgive, but finding it difficult. Also, there is a difference between “living with unforgiveness” for small offenses against you and deeply unjust offenses against you. If you decide to deliberately be unforgiving under your particular circumstance of abandonment, then it is my opinion that your happiness will be compromised and this could continue for the rest of your life. Under circumstances such as yours, forgiving your husband for this deep injustice could set you free to feel a happiness you might not have felt for these past three years. Decisions to forgive or not to forgive, in other words, can have a significant impact on your quality of life. Yet, you do not want to force the process of forgiveness. When you feel ready, you might consider trying to forgive.
To learn more, read a study demonstrating that Forgiveness Therapy holds promise as a post relationship, post crisis therapeutic approach for women who have experienced spousal emotional abuse.
How can someone become vulnerable enough to accept the pain caused by another person and to ask for help when needed so that forgiveness becomes possible?
I think the key to this is humility. We have to practice the virtue of humility if we are to admit to ourselves the depth of our pain, to accept that we are hurt, and then to bear that pain. It also takes humility for us to realize that we need help. Asking for help is not dishonorable. We do this when we need medical treatment for a broken bone, for example. Humility, it seems to me, is not emphasized enough in our “get tough” society. Assertiveness has its place, but it is not the only response to moral injury. Humility has a rightful place in accepting one’s suffering, seeking help, and starting the forgiveness process.
For additional information, see What is Forgiveness?
I am trying to forgive, but I do not have a family member or a friend to accompany me on this journey. What would you recommend. I am a Jewish believer.
We have self-help books that we characteristically use in our forgiveness research. These include Forgiveness Is a Choice (2001) and 8 Keys to Forgiveness (2015). I walk you through the process of forgiveness in a step-by-step fashion in these books. They have been shown scientifically to be effective in promoting forgiveness. As a Jewish believer, you are not alone in your forgiving. You can rely on God’s grace to assist you in the forgiveness process.
Learn more at Forgiveness books.