Archive for February, 2023

I am trying to find your journal article in which you worked on forgiveness therapy with men in a correctional institution.  I cannot find that article.  Would you please provide that reference?

Yes, here is that reference:

Yu, L., Gambaro, M., Song, J., Teslik, M., Song, M., Komoski, M.C., Wollner, B., & Enright, R.D. (2021). Forgiveness therapy in a maximum-security correctional institution: A randomized clinical trial. Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy.

The person I am forgiving thinks that upon my forgiveness, our relationship can proceed as if the injustices never happened.  How do I get him to realize this is not correct?

He has to see the difference between forgiving and reconciling.   He might see your forgiving as giving in to his unacceptable behavior, which forgiving is not.  This distinction between forgiving and reconciling may help him to see that he has work to do if the relationship will improve.

When trust is broken, how does forgiveness work in restoring trust? 

Forgiveness itself does not restore trust.  That is the job for the process of reconciliation.  Yet, forgiving a person who has broken trust is important because, upon forgiving, you then open the door to trying reconciliation, perhaps one small step at a time.  Without forgiving, you may be hesitant to ever open the door of reconciliation ever again.

I am somewhat confused.  I thought that forgiveness is getting rid of resentment toward an offending person.  That is what I read the most.  So, what’s wrong with this as a definition of forgiving?

While reducing resentment is part of the definition of forgiveness, it cannot be the complete definition because one can reduce resentment, for example, by dismissing the offending person.  In other words, a person might reduce resentment and then says to oneself, “That other person is worthless.  I am moving on.”  Failing to acknowledge the personhood of the other and dismissing that other person is not a moral virtue.  Therefore, it cannot be all that encompasses forgiveness, given that forgiveness is a moral virtue.

Is there more than one definition of forgiveness?

There are many people who have different definitions of forgiveness, but in the vast majority of cases, people assert their definitions without defending them or explaining how they arrived at that definition.  We at the International Forgiveness Institute rely on the teaching of the ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle, because he has, in our view, the most comprehensive ideas of what constitutes any moral virtue.  He gives complete descriptions of the moral virtues, in other words, without reducing the meaning of the virtues.  With that in mind, we define forgiving this way: When treated unfairly by others, a person forgives by willingly working on reducing negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and striving to offer more positive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors toward them.  At the same time, the forgiver does not excuse the unjust behavior, automatically reconcile, or abandon the quest for justice.