Tagged: “forgiveness journey”

I have a problem.  I am out of an unhealthy relationship.  My ex-boyfriend now is in a new relationship with another woman.  He seems to want me to forgive him so he can be free of his own guilt because he broke his own moral standard.  In other words, he is not asking for forgiveness for my sake, for my well-being, but only for his.  So, do I even tell him that I have forgiven when I have gone down that path?

Forgiving is your choice when you are ready.  There are many reasons why you might forgive: a) to aid his recovery of his well-being; b) to aid your own recovery; and c) as an end in and of itself, among other reasons.  So, you can forgive, for example, because it is good in and of itself.  If you decide to forgive also as a way to aid his recovery, even when he is uninterested in your recovery, this would be a very deep sense of forgiving, doing so through pain for his sake.  This kind of goal can take time and so please be gentle with yourself as you discern the answer to your goal regarding why you are forgiving.  If you are not ready to forgive in particular for his sake, you can start by forgiving so that you are free of resentment and can move forward well in life.  The other reason might develop in you later.

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Can I forgive without feeling compassion for the one who hurt me?

Think of forgiving, when treated deeply unfairly by others, as a journey.  It takes time and effort and so not all components of forgiving are present at once.  If you begin the journey and have reduced some resentment toward the one who hurt you, then you are forgiving to the extent possible right now on that part of the journey you happen to be on now.  Compassion may come later.  Even if it does not, please remember that you do not have to be a perfect forgiver to give yourself credit on the forgiveness journey.

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What is one major difference between forgiving other people and forgiving yourself?

When we forgive ourselves, we have broken our own standards.  When this happens, it usually does not occur in isolation.  In other words, we so often hurt other people when we break our own standards.  Therefore, as we self-forgive, in contrast to forgiving others, we often need to go to those offended by what we did and seek forgiveness from them.
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My friend thinks that by my forgiving her then all is supposedly well as if the injuries never even happened.  How do I explain that my forgiving does not automatically alter the relationship to something great (when at this point, it is not)?

Your friend is confusing your forgiving with reconciliation.  To reconcile means that both of you come together again in mutual trust.  It seems that you are not quite ready to fully trust her at this point.  Yes, forgiving is an important step toward reconciliation, but she now will have to do her part to avoid injuring you as she has done in the past.

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In your research studies on forgiveness, what is the shortest intervention you have done that was successful in healing people from trauma?  I am not talking about studies that others do with college students who are not traumatized in a psychiatric sense.  Instead, I am talking about the kind of studies that have characterized your pattern of research as you work with traumatized samples.

The shortest amount of time needed for a successful forgiveness intervention with traumatized people is a study by Hansen and Enright (2009) in which our forgiveness process was implemented over a 4-week period, once a week for about an hour each time.  This was done individually for each participant who was in hospice because of a diagnosis of terminal cancer.  The participants, knowing they were dying, were very focused on the forgiveness intervention and their hope for the future increased as they forgave.  I think the fact that they knew they were dying played a part in how quickly they forgave.  In other words, 4-weeks for other traumatized populations probably would not be as effective because people need time to engage in the process of forgiveness.

This is the reference to that research in hospice:

Hansen, M.J., Enright. R.D., Baskin, T.W., & Klatt, J. (2009).  A palliative care intervention in forgiveness therapy for elderly terminally-ill cancer patients. Journal of Palliative Care, 25, 51-60.

Here is a link to the research:  Forgiveness Therapy as Palliative Care. 

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