I am encouraged by your statement that I can reduce my sadness and anger even if I have held these for many years. Yet, I have another question. These feelings now are part of my own identity, who I am as a person. I know that might sound a little odd, but it is scary to think of changing. Can you help me with that?
Change can be scary, especially when it breaks a long-standing pattern. We have seen that people find it hard to make a commitment to forgive because of change; the change itself is the initial challenge. Yet, my question to you is this: What might your new identity be like as you forgive and change? You might change to these kinds of views of yourself:
- I am someone who does not harm others;
- I can be a conduit for good in my family;
- I can bear pain and as I stand up to that pain, I am strong;
- I am beginning to love more deeply.
These kinds of views of yourself can assist you in a healthier identity and in aiding others in their pain. The new identity, you may find, is more friendly than the old one.
For additional information, see The Forgiving Life.
I have been carrying hurt feelings now for years. I might even say that they are a part of me now. I am kind of skeptical that I will be able to shed these. What advice do you have for me on this?
When deeply hurt by others, the resentments can last for years. You are not alone in this. For example, Mary Hansen and I have a publication in which we worked with elderly women in hospice. Some of the women had carried their hurt for 40 years. Yet, as they willingly chose to forgive and to work on forgiving those who were unfair to them, their anger faded and their hope for the future increased. This can happen for you as well when you are ready. Forgiveness, I hope you see, can aid you in getting rid of those negative emotions no matter how long you have carried them.
For additional information, see The Four Phases of Forgiveness.
Forgiveness: A Pathway to Emotional Healing
Based on his 30+ years of peer-reviewed, empirical scientific research, Dr. Robert Enright will help you discover and learn a step-by-step pathway to forgiveness in this one-day workshop. This intense learning session will enable you to develop confidence in your forgiveness skills and learn how you can bring forgiveness to your family, school, work place and community for better emotional health.
“Forgiveness is a process, freely chosen, in which you willingly reduce resentment through some hard work and offer goodness of some kind toward the one who hurt you,” according to workshop presenter Dr. Enright. “This gives you a chance to live a life of love, compassion and joy.”
Dr. Enright outlines during this workshop how to learn and use that process to help yourself and others. He explains, for example that:
- Forgiveness is NOT reconciliation, forgetting, excusing or condoning.
- Forgiveness does not get rid of the injustice but the effects of the injustice.
- Forgiveness cuts across many different philosophies and religions.
- The benefits of forgiveness are significant: scientific analyses demonstrates that considerable emotional, relational, and even physical health benefits result from forgiving.
FORGIVENESS: A PATHWAY TO EMOTIONAL HEALING
When: Nov 11, 9am-4pm (on-site registration 8:30am)
Where: Pyle Center, 702 Langdon St., Madison, WI
Instructor: Dr. Robert Enright, PhD
Continuing education (CE) hours: 6, 6 CHES® contact hours
Level: Intermediate to Advanced
Questions: Barbara Nehls- Lowe, barbara.nehlslowe@ wisc.edu, 608-890-4653
To register or for more information – Forgiveness: A Pathway to Emotional Health
If you’ve ever thought about learning a systematic approach to forgiving that will enhance your emotional and physical health, this workshop should be one that you must attend. Dr. Enright, the man Time magazine called “the Forgiveness Trailblazer,” will teach you how to harness the amazing power of forgiveness for yourself.
According to the respected health website WebMD.com, if you can bring yourself to forgive, you are likely to enjoy lower blood pressure, a stronger immune system, and a drop in the stress hormones circulating in your blood. Back pain, stomach problems, and headaches may disappear. And you’ll reduce the anger, bitterness, resentment, depression, and other negative emotions that accompany the failure to forgive.
Sign up today for this once in a lifetime
opportunity with Dr. Robert Enright that could dramatically change your life.
- “Amazing amount of powerful information presented clearly and in an easily accessible way.”
- “What did I like most? Dr. Enright’s gentle, wise, and informed teaching style and thoughtful content.”
We have begun introducing Forgiveness Therapy in prisons because our research shows this: People in prison who fill out our survey tend to show that they have been treated badly by others prior to their arrest and imprisonment. In fact, about 90% of those filling out our surveys report that they have been treated moderately to severely unjustly in childhood or adolescence. We control for what is called social desirability or “faking good.”
Traditional rehabilitation for those in prison does not focus deeply and extensively on the wounds the person suffered early in life. One man was thrown out of his home when he was 8 years old. His dining room table for years was garbage cans. His bed at night was under cars for protection. He grew up angry and took this out on others.
I visited those who had voluntarily gone through Forgiveness Therapy with my book, 8 Keys to Forgiveness. It gave them the chance to confront and overcome their anger, even rage, toward those who abused them as they were growing up.
Here are two testimonies of those who experienced this program of anger reduction through forgiveness:
Person 1: “I have been imprisoned now 6 different times. I am convinced that on my first arrest, had I read your book, 8 Keys to Forgiveness, I never would have experienced the other 5.”
Person 2: “My first imprisonment occurred when I was 12 years old. If you can find a way to give 12-year-olds Forgiveness Therapy, they will not end up as I have in maximum security prison.”
It is time to add Forgiveness Therapy to prison rehabilitation so that the anger, held for many years by some, can diminish. This then should decrease motivation to displace this unhealthy anger onto others.
What comes to mind when you hear someone mention the term “therapy”? Do you envision a patient lying on a couch with a therapist sitting behind and nodding sagely as the patient talks about the shortcomings of his or her life? If so, it’s time to upgrade your thinking.
Thanks to less-than-accurate portrayals in movie and television docudramas, that approach to therapy (known as psychoanalysis) is still dominant in the minds of most individuals. And while it is still practiced, it is in the minority. There are now an estimated 400 different kinds of therapy used by practitioners around the world.
That’s but one of the many mind-altering revelations in a just-published book called Introduction to Psychology by Jorden A. Cummings (Associate Professor) and Lee Sanders (Sessional Lecturer), both in the Department of Psychology at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. The book offers a comprehensive treatment of core concepts, grounded in classical studies and current/emerging research.
Another major revelation of the new book is its focus on Positive Psychology–the study of happiness. While psychology has traditionally focused on dysfunction–people with mental illness or other issues–and how to treat it, positive psychology, in contrast, is a field that examines how ordinary people can become happier and more fulfilled–in other words, what makes life worth living.
Three Key Strengths
Within positive psychology, three key human strengths have been identified–forgiveness, gratitude and humility. While Introduction to Psychology provides meticulous coverage of those three strengths (Chapter 12.5), this post will focus on forgiveness. Here are excerpts from the book:
Forgiveness is essential to harmonious long-term relationships between individuals, whether between spouses or nations, dyads or collectives. At the level of the individual, forgiveness of self can help one achieve an inner peace as well as peace with others and with God.
“Forgiveness can be an avenue to healing. It is the basic building block of loving relationships with others.”
Introduction to Psychology
Because the potential for conflict is seemingly built into human nature, the prospects for long-term peace may seem faint. Forgiveness offers another way. If the victim can forgive the perpetrator, the relationship may be restored and possibly even saved from termination.
The essence of forgiveness is that it creates a possibility for a relationship to recover from the damage caused by the offending party’s offense. Forgiveness is thus a powerful pro-social process. It can benefit human social life by helping relationships to heal. Culligan (2002) wrote “Forgiveness may ultimately be the most powerful weapon for breaking the dreadful cycle of violence.”
“On a social level, forgiveness may be the critical element needed for world peace.”
Introduction to Psychology
Forgiveness studies demonstrate that self-forgiveness was associated with increased self-esteem, lower levels of anxiety, lower levels of depression and a more positive point of view.
In many of these studies, it was shown that people who are able to forgive are more likely to have better interpersonal functioning and therefore social support. The act of forgiveness can result in less anxiety and depression, better health outcomes, increased coping with stress, and increased closeness to God and others (Enright, 2001). ⊗
Introduction to Psychology has been created from a combination of original content and materials compiled and adapted from several Open Educational Resources (OERs)—teaching, learning and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing.
Compared to commercial textbooks and other commercial resources, OERs are: free to access, free to reuse, free to revise, free to remix, and free to redistribute.
This provides opportunities for instructors and learners to shape course content and meet the needs of specific learning contexts. Teachers and students become learners together, and content becomes a dynamic, always changing category to be engaged rather than a stable set of facts to be mastered.
This is called Open Pedagogy–the practice of engaging with students as creators of information rather than simply consumers of it. This dynamic, often called Open Education, is transforming lifelong learning in the process.
- Click here to download the entire 1,064-page Introduction to Psychology.
- Click her to download other Open Educational Resources and Courses.
- Click here to discover the 10 Types of Psychologists.
- Click here to watch a TED Talk called The New Era of Positive Psychology by Martin Seligman, often called “the founder of Positive Psychology.”