When you forgive, you are engaging in a moral virtue in which you are choosing to be good to those who are not good to you. When you accept that something bad happened to you, it is possible to do so without even caring about the one who created the difficult situation for you. Acceptance can focus on adjusting to a situation; forgiveness focuses on goodness toward persons in particular, on those who acted badly toward you.
I think this occurs because the forgivers begin to realize that they can face unjust treatment in the future and they now have an effective way (forgiveness) of confronting the effects of the injustice. Forgiveness allows people to move on well in life without getting immersed in bitterness.
Short-term forgiveness interventions may be effective for those who are not deeply hurt, are not treated deeply unjustly, and who are not clinically compromised. We have to be very careful in generalizing brief interventions to all people, especially those who are deeply hurting from deeply unfair treatment. Those treated so unfairly will need forgiveness therapy for a longer time than a brief forgiveness intervention.
I am a little confused. The published literature seems to imply that brief forgiveness interventions are as effective as long term forgiveness therapy. Would you please clarify if there is a difference between these two approaches to forgiveness.
Even though brief forgiveness interventions can show statistically significant changes in forgiveness for the participants, this kind of intervention is qualitatively different from longer-term forgiveness therapy, which concentrates more on people who have suffered serious effects from trauma. Even though both kinds of interventions can show statistical significance, we must avoid the serious error of then equating the two, erroneously concluding that each is equally effective for all clients, whether or not they are deeply traumatized or not. In such a case, relying on statistics only can distort what is happening in long-term forgiveness therapy (which can cure the effects of trauma) compared to the more minor psychological adjustments that are occurring with emotionally intact people who have experienced frustration and annoyance. Minor annoyances can be reduced with short-term forgiveness interventions. Deep emotional compromise from profound injustices require more intensive, longer-term forgiveness therapy. In other words, short-term forgiveness interventions are not the same as long-term forgiveness therapy.
You say forgiveness is a paradox in that gift-giving aids the one who gives the gift. Yet, is there no correction of the other’s misbehavior?
To correct the other’s misbehavior is to engage in the moral virtue of justice. Forgiveness and justice should exist side-by-side. If you are being abused by someone, you can forgive if you choose to do so and you can and should seek fairness so that the other stops the unjust behavior.