Tagged: “forgiveness”

Is it possible for someone to actually improve in forgiveness? If so, what do you suggest as some keys for me to do that?

Forgiveness is not a superficial action (such as saying, “It’s ok” when someone is unfair to you). Instead, it is a moral virtue, as is justice and kindness and love. Aristotle told us thousands of years ago that one challenge in life is to become more perfected in the virtues. In other words, we do grow more proficient in our understanding and expression of the virtues, but only if we practice them. It is a struggle to grow in any virtue, including forgiveness. So, first be aware that you can grow in this virtue. Then be willing to practice it, with the goal of maturing in love, which is what forgiveness is (loving those who are unkind to us). You need a strong will to keep persevering in the struggle to grow in forgiveness. In sum, you need: understanding of what forgiveness is, practice, a strong will, and keeping your eye fixed on the goal of improving in love a little more each day.

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I am wondering if there is any scientific evidence showing that forgiveness education might increase academic achievement.

Yes, there is scientific evidence specifically concerning adolescents who are at-risk for academic failure.  In the first study below, the students went from a D+ average to a C+ average.  The second study was done in South Korea.  Some of the participants were in a correctional institution.

Gambaro, M.E., Enright, R.D., Baskin, T.A., & Klatt, J. (2008). Can school-based forgiveness counseling improve conduct and academic achievement in academically at-risk adolescents? Journal of Research in Education, 18, 16-27.

Park, J.H., Enright, R.D., Essex, M.J., Zahn-Waxler, C., & Klatt, J.S. (2013). Forgiveness intervention for female South Korean adolescent aggressive victims.  Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 20, 393-402.

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When someone treats me unkindly, I just strive for justice by forthrightly asking for fairness. I try to get the person to change. This is sufficient, without even bringing in forgiveness, isn’t it?

Why not do both? Why not forgive first, which probably will lower your anger, and then ask for fairness? The asking may turn out to be more civil if you ask when not angry. In other words, think in “both-and” ways rather than “either-or” ways.

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What satisfaction can you really get from forgiving other people than people patting you on the back and saying, “Nice job.” This seems like such a game to me.

I agree that there can be satisfaction when you forgive. I agree that it is not very satisfying if our primary motivation in forgiving is the reinforcement from others. I disagree that the only satisfaction one gets from forgiving is others’ reinforcement. The primary satisfaction in forgiving is exercising love toward others, those in particular who have hurt us. I think it is profoundly satisfying to practice this love and then to realize that our love is stronger than any injustice that can be thrown our way.

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I know that to forgive, I must confront my anger toward the person who hurt me, but to be honest with you, I fear my anger,  I fear that I could get out of control because the person who hurt me was very cruel, over and over again,  I do not like fearing myself.  Please help me to overcome this.

First you should realize something very positive: You are aware that you are very angry. Some people deny the extent of their anger, which does not help in cleansing oneself of it. After all, how can you reduce the anger if you are minimizing it? If you have a deep cut on your arm and you are afraid of infection, what do you do? If your fear freezes you to such an extent that you cannot clean the wound and apply an anti-biotic, then that fear is preventing healing. It is similar with injustices and anger. Fear of the anger is the problem more so than the anger is the problem.

Please keep in mind that you do have available to you a kind of cleansing agent, a kind of anti-biotic against toxic anger, and it is forgiveness. As you practice forgiveness, you will see that the anger diminishes. Even if it returns, you have forgiveness to help you once again. As you become better at forgiving, you will fear your negative emotions less because you now have at your disposal a powerful antidote to them. Enjoy the cleansing power of forgiveness.

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