Tagged: “Forgiveness Process”
To be sure that I understand you, are you saying that all subjective experiences of forgiveness are irrelevant. Do I understand you correctly?
Actually, no. Subjective views of forgiveness are very important. How a person is feeling needs to be honored, especially when that person is in much pain over what happened. Each person’s subjective experience may be somewhat different in terms of intensity, duration, and kind of emotion experienced when treated badly by others. Yet, if this person now wants to go on a forgiveness path, it is very important that this person understands what forgiveness is and is not so that a wrong path is not chosen. As an example, if someone equates forgiving with summarily dismissing another person as less than human, and nurtures hatred within, this person’s subjective experience will need correction to get on the right forgiveness path.
In your process of forgiveness (page 2 of Forgiveness Is a Choice), you say that forgetting what happened to the forgiver is unhealthy. Yet, it seems to me that, once a person forgives, it is healthy to move on and just “forget about it.” Would you please clarify your position for me?
There are at least two different meanings to the term “to forget.” The first one, which I see as unhealthy, is to suppress the knowledge that the other is a danger to you. It is important to remember that some people are not “on our side.” The second meaning of the term “to forgive” is to move on, as you say. So, you can move on from a situation while you see the humanity in the other (as you choose to forgive). As you see the humanity in the other, it is important to acknowledge the other’s weaknesses if the person still has a pattern of behavior that is hurtful to you.
Forgiveness Is a Choice, Dr. Robert Enright.
My area of study is cross-cultural differences. In some cultures, it is considered inappropriate to “give a gift” (as you suggest in your forgiveness process). It is considered inappropriate because such gift-giving is seen as a sign of superiority. So, might it be best to skip this step in your forgiveness model for some cultures?
In such cultures, as you say, it is best to give the gift in ways that respect the norms of the culture. One need not give a gift within a box all wrapped up in gift-wrap and a bow. One can be more subtle about it: a smile, paying respectful attention to the other, not speaking badly to other people about the one who hurt you. A gift is a generous and often unexpected kindness which can be done tastefully by knowing the norms of a given culture.
I am not so sure that I have forgiven. Here is my situation: Whenever I see this person, I feel pain. I do wish him well, but the pain remains. What do you think?
There is a difference between pain and unhealthy anger in which you hope that the other suffers. You say that you wish him well and this is an important part of the forgiveness process. Please keep in mind that within psychology we have a term called classical conditioning. In classical conditioning, over time we learn to associate certain people or situations with certain emotions. A mother upon holding her baby feels love. Classical conditioning links the sight or thought of the baby with love. In your case, you have linked the person with pain. You are classically conditioned to this link. As you try to associate this person who hurt you with wishing him well, a new link will forge—–seeing him and wishing him well. Be gentle with yourself on this. Classical conditioning links (such as pain and seeing the one who caused the pain) take time to dissolve.
Dr. Robert Enright, a professor of clinical psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has been studying the virtue of forgiveness for more than three decades. During that time, dozens of countries have been decimated by domestic infighting or by brutal war brought on by outside political entities. Millions of deaths have resulted.
Yet all the pain and suffering of those conflicts could have been avoided if forgiveness had been understood and employed as one of the options on the peace-keeping and peace-making table, according to Dr. Enright. And while no one can turn back the clock to erase our human frailties, he adds, future geo-political animosity can be curbed and peace achieved through forgiveness and forgiveness education.
“Forgiveness is the Rodney Dangerfield of therapy and politics in that too often it gets no respect,” says Dr. Enright. “This occurs, in my experience, because forgiveness is woefully misunderstood and then angrily dismissed. Such misunderstanding is tragic because it shuts down what may be the most powerful cure for the effects that emerge and remain after injustice rears its unwelcome head in relationships, families, communities, and nations.”
Dr. Enright, founder of the International Forgiveness Institute, is considered “the forgiveness trailblazer” (Time magazine – 1995) and “the father of forgiveness research” (Christian Science Monitor – 2002) He developed a 20-Step Process Model of Forgiveness (1993) and demonstrated its effectiveness in projects around the world. Seven years ago, he and psychiatrist Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons developed an empirically-based treatment manual, Forgiveness Therapy, that helped make forgiveness therapy a gold-standard therapeutic treatment like psychoanalysis and cognitive behavioral therapy.
After 35+ years of studying the moral virtue of forgiveness, he says he is convinced that forgiveness is the missing piece to the peace puzzle. He recently outlined his formula for peace in Ukraine and other world locations in three essays that were published this month in Psychology Today, the professional publication that has honored him with a dedicated column for his work:
Summary: A key issue for peace in Eastern Europe is to recognize not just political boundaries, but more importantly, the genuine personhood in people within and across those boundaries—a personhood that is so precious that it transcends nationalism. That can be accomplished through forgiveness education being deliberately incorporated into the schools and houses of worship throughout the region, a process Dr. Enright already has helped establish in more than 30 countries around the world. While forgiveness interventions have been shown in empirically-verified research to lower anger and enhance empathy, this process has yet to be tried in post war, post-accord societies, on a large scale with both children and adults, anywhere on the planet throughout all human history.
2. Why Do People Fear the Cure for the Disease of Resentment? (March 19, 2022)
Summary: Resentment is the deep anger that can be harbored within a person for decades with serious consequences for psychological and physical health. Research by Dr. Enright and others has shown that forgiveness is an empirically verified treatment that reduces that resentment, but which is often misunderstood and therefore rejected. Properly recognized and acknowledged, forgiveness should take its rightful place of front-and-center where there are severe injustices to be healed.
3. Understanding the Role of Forgiveness in Political Conflict (March 20, 2022)
Summary: Forgiveness education never begins during the heat of a political/military conflict but it must be included, instead of being ignored, as a crucial post-conflict building block. Reconstruction following war must focus on rehabilitating the heart, not just the infrastructure. By helping individuals reduce their anger and hatred, they will be more likely to be more open to traditional rehabilitation measures and can be set free from unhealthy resentment that will tamper any ongoing peace efforts. Importantly, people need to be drawn to forgiveness, not forced into it—as emphasized by the title of Dr. Enright’s first self-help book Forgiveness Is a Choice.
“Peace out there in the world is possible only when we have peace inside of us,” Dr. Enright concludes. “Mahatma Gandhi has said that if true peace is ever to be achieved in this world, if we are to make war against war, then we must begin with the children. It is time for forgiveness education to go viral and become ubiquitous.”
To read the complete version of each of Dr. Enright’s posts in Psychology Today, click on its title above.