Tagged: “Helpful Forgiveness Hints”
Forbes Magazine is undeniably one of the most highly read news publications in the world. With 49 global editions licensed in 83 countries and printed in 28 languages, it reaches more than 140 million people worldwide on a monthly basis through direct subscription and its website.
Now the 105-year-old publication has teamed up with medical experts to tout the “immense benefits” of forgiveness on both mental and physical health in an article titled “Forgiveness: How to Forgive Yourself and Others.” It was published on Aug. 31, 2022, and received the coveted Forbes Health Advisory Board seal of approval.
“The benefits of forgiveness greatly outweigh holding a grudge, and can affect both mental and physical health in profound ways,” according to the article. “While forgiveness may feel impossible in certain circumstances, forgiveness experts—yes, this is a real field of study—say that forgiveness can be learned no matter how great the offense. Even if the person you have the hardest time forgiving is yourself, this too, they say, can be learned.”
The Forbes article relies extensively on the work of Dr. Robert Enright and calls him “a pioneer in the scientific study of forgiveness” and “a leading expert on forgiveness.” Dr. Enright is a professor of educational psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and co-founder of the International Forgiveness Institute who last year was awarded the 2022 American Psychological Foundation Gold Medal Award for Impact in Psychology.
“As you can see, all the ways of practicing forgiveness as well as its benefits aren’t really about the person who wronged you; it’s about yourself,” according to the Forbes article. “Forgiveness isn’t easy, but it can be done. When you commit to putting it into practice, your mental and physical health will both be better for it.”
“Clearly forgiveness has immense benefits.”
Here are the scientifically-demonstrated benefits of forgiveness cited in the article:
Mental Benefits of Practicing Forgiveness
- You experience less anxiety when you forgive
- Inability to forgive and depression can be linked
- You feel more hopeful and empowered when you forgive
- You’re less likely to hurt others
Physical Benefits of Practicing Forgiveness
- Forgiveness is good for your heart
- It’s associated with better sleep
- Forgiving supports the immune system
In addition to lauding the benefits of forgiveness, the article includes a helpful list of “10 Ways to Practice Forgiveness for Yourself and Others.”
Read the full Forbes Magazine article.
Because forgiving others is a moral virtue, we cannot reduce the act of forgiveness to a psychological technique. For example, we cannot engage one time in “the empty chair technique” and have a deeply hurt forgiver sit in the chair of the one who acted unjustly and then gain full insight into that person’s wounds with a resultant overflowing compassion toward that person. To clarify, there is nothing wrong with this technique, but we cannot think of it as complete. As an analogy, if you will take out a gym membership to get into physical shape, your goal is not reached as you go on the treadmill one time or do 20 bicep curls only once. To become physically fit, you need repetition, for a long time.
It is the same with becoming forgivingly fit. Your task is not accomplished by engaging in one set of actions, in one psychological technique. Growing in any of the moral virtues takes time, perseverance, and a strong will to keep at it. As Aristotle reminds us, we need three things to grow in the moral virtues: practice, practice, practice.
We can even engage in our forgiveness practice when we do not have a particular person in mind to forgive today. Here is an example: As we forgive, we struggle to see the inherent worth in others. So, as we interact with people today, even those with whom we are getting along, we can say to ourselves, “This person probably has a history of being wounded in some way by others in the past. This person has built-in worth that cannot be taken away.” As you pass by strangers in a store or on the street, you can say the same about them. The key here is to train one’s mind to see the inherent worth in others so that you can then apply this learning toward those who hurt you, as you decide to forgive.
Here is another idea for growing in forgiveness fitness: Make a list of as many people as you can remember who have hurt you, from your childhood to now. List who the person is, what occurred that was unjust, and your degree of hurt on a 1-to-10 scale. Then order all of these people from the least hurtful (but still a challenge for you now) to the most hurtful. Start with the one person who hurt you the least and go through the forgiveness process with that person. When you think you have accomplished forgiving this one person, and it might take weeks, then go to the next person on the list. Continue until you reach the person who wounded you the most. You then may be ready to forgive this person because you have engaged in practice, practice, practice in forgiving and so your forgiveness fitness likely has increased.
Becoming forgivingly fit takes time, perseverance, and a strong will. As in becoming physically fit, you will notice a difference inside of you that includes well-being and even a sense of wholeness. What do you think: shall we hit the forgiveness gym now?
The process of forgiveness is not a straight line from beginning to end. Instead, there are times of fatigue and needing a break. There are times of needing to go back near the beginning of the process as you find yourself getting angry again with the person. Therefore, your current feelings are not atypical. Instead of the word “quit,” what do you think about the idea of taking a rest, taking a break for a while? This kind of thought may keep the forgiveness door open for you once you take the time to rest and refresh.
It is very hard for me to act in a civil way with my roommate when I am angry. I am practicing forgiving, but I still can have a sharp tongue. Can you offer some suggestions for me?
Forgiving can begin with your thinking about the other person. Still there can be some anger left over. The keys are these: a) know you are still angry; b) use your strong will to resist harsh words that result from the feeling of anger; c) give yourself time to calm down; and d) you might want to practice forgiving your roommate for the new incident that sparked the new anger in you.
Parents can use teachable moments when watching films or reading stories. We have forgiveness education in schools in over 30 countries. Books on forgiveness, magazine articles, newspaper articles on forgiveness can engender a curiosity about what forgiveness is and is not. A key issue is to begin conversations deliberately focused on the moral virtue of forgiveness. I have observed that such deliberate conversations are rare. It is my hope that they become more common in families, schools, workplaces, and other areas of communities.