As a follow-up, do I have to engage in what you call “deep forgiving” to say that I actually forgive?
Actually, no, you do not have to engage in what I called “deep forgiving” (in my answer to your most recent question) for you to be forgiving. We can forgive to lesser and greater degrees. If you wish the other well, but you still have anger and are not ready to give a gift of some kind to the other person, you still are forgiving. There is room to keep growing in the moral virtue of forgiveness and so more practice may prove to be worthwhile for you.
You talk about the “worldview” or one’s philosophy or theology in life. Suppose I forgive but cannot reconcile with the one who hurt me. Might this lack of reconciliation keep me bitter, keep me mistrustful, and actually not alter my worldview to a more positive state once I forgive?
Forgiving can help us to see the special, unique, and irreplaceable character of each person, not just toward the one you are forgiving. When this happens, your trust can increase, not toward the one who hurt you and who remains unrepentant, but now toward more people in general. As you forgive, you realize that all people are capable of love, even though some do not necessarily express it. Some will choose not to love, in which case your trust remains low toward them, but you also begin to realize that other people, who have the capacity to love, do want to grow in this moral virtue. It is in this realization by the forgiver that the worldview can become more positive as trust, toward some, is realistically enhanced.
I don’t care for the Uncovering Phase of the forgiveness process. I want to skip it and go right to the Decision Phase of forgiving. What do you think?
If you have considerable anger or other negative effects from an injustice which you suffered, it may be best to take a look at these effects of what happened in the Uncovering Phase. The Uncovering Phase does not ask you to go back and relive the trauma, but instead to see what effects are now present to you because of the injustice. These can be signals for you that you: 1) might need to do very deep forgiveness that can take time, or 2) you are not deeply impacted and so the forgiving may be shorter in your case. Further, you can measure the outcome of your forgiving by examining, at the end of the forgiveness process, the degree to which the negative effects have improved or not. This latter point can assist you in deciding whether or not to continue with the forgiveness process.
Can you suggest at least one very effective way to motivate a person to start the forgiveness process?
I find that a person’s internal, emotional pain is a strong motivator to at lease consider forgiveness as a healing strategy. If the person has tried many different approaches, and none of them has led to significant relief, then a person often is ready to give forgiveness a try.
Calling forgiveness one of mankind’s “most important innovations,” TIME magazine is doubling down on its 22-year infatuation with the moral virtue by declaring, “Beset by a global plague, political turmoil, and social reckonings, it’s time for forgiveness to go viral.”
The internationally acclaimed news publication first introduced the science of forgiveness to its readers on March 28, 1999, in an essay titled “Should All Be Forgiven?” That widely-cited introductory overview of forgiveness—one of the first ever in a publication designed for the general public—helped usher in a plethora of forgiveness-related articles since then that reported on the superabundance of new research projects focused on forgiveness.
“In the past two years, scientists and sociologists have begun to extract forgiveness and the act of forgiving from the confines of the confessional, transforming it into the subject of quantifiable research,” the TIME article in 1999 sermonized. “In one case, they have even systemized it as a 20-part ‘intervention’ that they claim can be used to treat a number of anger-related ills in a totally secular context. In short, to forgive is no longer just divine.”
The “20-part intervention” in the TIME quote (above) is a reference to the Enright Process Model of Forgiveness that was just being developed at that time by Dr. Robert Enright, a University of Wisconsin-Madison clinical psychology professor and forgiveness researcher. Dr. Enright had founded the International Forgiveness Institute four years earlier.
For his leadership work with that early model and for his development of innovative forgiveness interventions, TIME magazine crowned Dr. Enright “the forgiveness trailblazer.” Shortly after receiving that recognition, The Los Angeles Times editorialized that Dr. Enright is “the guru of what many are calling a new science of forgiveness.” The Christian Science Monitor called him “the father of forgiveness research.”
Fast forward 22-years and you will discover an updated and enthusiastic TIME magazine essay with this headline: “After a Year That Pushed Us to the Brink, It’s Time for Forgiveness to Go Viral.” The dictionary definition of “going viral,” of course, is when an idea is of such significance that it spreads quickly and widely on the Internet. In this case, it also refers to the actual implementation of that idea which is described in the article much like a miracle cure:
“It is a powerful solution backed up by both cutting edge neuroscience and age-old wisdom. It leads to greater cooperation, eases conflict, increases personal happiness, lowers anxiety and is completely free. It’s called forgiveness.”
One of the studies cited in this latest article is a comparison of various forgiveness interventions. Among those available for testing, the study concludes, Dr. Enright’s interventions are the most effective. “Using theoretically grounded forgiveness interventions is a sound choice for helping clients to deal with past offenses and helping them achieve resolution in the form of forgiveness,” according to the study. “. . . the advantage for individual interventions was most clearly demonstrated for Enright-model interventions.” (Efficacy of psychotherapeutic interventions to promote forgiveness: a meta-analysis)
That recent TIME article also makes a direct comparison between the success of the forgiveness coalition and the “mindfulness and meditation” movement:
“Like forgiveness, mindfulness and meditation have been shown in many circumstances to reduce stress levels, mitigate heart disease, and lower blood pressure. Can we create the same level of cultural penetration for forgiveness? Our future may well depend on it. Beset by a global plague, political turmoil, and social reckonings, it’s time for forgiveness to go viral.”
The latest TIME article was authored by Andrew Serazin, President of the Templeton World Charity Foundation and Chair of the Forgiveness Forum, a series of global conversations on the mental and physical health benefits of forgiveness.
Editor’s Note: To illustrate the dramatic upward trajectory of the forgiveness movement, when Dr. Enright began exploring the social scientific study of forgiveness in 1985, there were no published empirical studies on person-to-person forgiveness. Today there are more than 3,000 published articles on that subject according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), many of them authored by Dr. Enright during his 35+ years of forgiveness research and intervention ingenuity.
- Read the full TIME article: “After a Year That Pushed Us to the Brink, It’s Time for Forgiveness to Go Viral.”
- Read the full March 28, 1999 TIME article: “Should All Be Forgiven?”