Tagged: “Enright Forgiveness Process Model”

Do you think people get less out of forgiving if the motive is self-preservation rather than a concern for the other as a person?

We have yet to do a research study in which we examine different outcomes for those who have different initial motives for forgiving. One problem in doing such a research study is this: Often people start Forgiveness Therapy because of their own emotional compromise caused by an injustice from others. Yet, as people go through the forgiveness process, their motive often changes from a focus on the self to a genuine concern for the other. Thus, this issue of motive is a moving target and so is difficult to study. Yet, it is worth more careful thought.

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I forgave my partner and still we have too much conflict. I now hate myself for forgiving and feel weak. What do you think?

I think you might have confused forgiving (a merciful response of being good to those who are not good to you) and reconciliation (two or more people coming together again in mutual trust). If you have no trust, you still can forgive by trying to reduce resentment against the partner and to offer goodness, even from a distance, if you have to leave the relationship. This distinction between forgiving and reconciling may help you to have mercy on yourself now. You have inherent worth no matter what your circumstances. I wish you the best in your decisions.

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If I forgive and then do not want to interact any longer with the person, is this false forgiveness or what you call pseudo-forgiveness?

No, this is not necessarily false or pseudo-forgiveness. This is the case because to forgive and to reconcile are not the same. Forgiveness is a moral virtue; reconciliation is not a moral virtue, but instead is a negotiation strategy of two or more people coming together again in mutual trust. If the other’s behavior continues to be hurtful, with no change in sight, then your not wanting to reconcile seems reasonable, at least for now until the other truly changes. If, in contrast, the other is now trustworthy and you do not want to interact, perhaps you still are harboring resentment. In this case, continuing to forgive might open the door to a genuine reconciliation.

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I am amazed that some people still do not understand and appreciate forgiveness, whether it is the giving or the receiving of it. Why are there so many people who don’t understand or accept forgiveness?

I think one reason why people do not understand forgiveness is because we so rarely take forgiveness deeply seriously in any society.  For example, when have you heard, in a family or a classroom, an extended discussion of what forgiveness is and why it is important?  I think it is time to change that and start discussions of what forgiveness is and what it is not.  Why some reject forgiveness, I think, has two answers.  First, some people misunderstand forgiveness as weakness or as automatic reconciliation with hurtful other people.  Second, some people are so profoundly angry that their resentment then gets in the way of their own healing as they reject the idea of forgiveness.

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A tornado recently destroyed part of my community. It has been rumored that someone called on us to “take the higher ground and forgive.” This does not seem quite right to me. What is your opinion?

Because forgiveness is a moral virtue, it concerns goodness toward persons not inanimate objects. A goal of forgiving is to possibly enter into a new relationship with another person. Because you cannot enter into a relationship with a tornado, it follows that you do not forgive such weather events.

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The Missing Piece to the Peace Puzzle

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