Tagged: “Inherent Worth”
The sixth of 15 criticisms I see regarding forgiveness is this: When traumatized by others, avoid forgiveness because it is a sign of disrespect toward the self.
When traumatized, it is your choice to forgive or not. If you forgive well, you offer yourself the opportunity of deep psychological healing. This is hardly disrespecting yourself.
You talk about forgiveness as a process, one that can take time. I find that as I go along the path of forgiveness, that I slip into revenge-seeking. I do not mean anything violent, just some nastiness or even verbal disrespect. Do you think this will delay my forgiveness process?
We are all imperfect forgivers and so we cannot think of forgiveness as a straight line from the start to the finish. We go back and forth with forgiveness. At times, we see the one who offended us as possessing inherent worth. Then we might have a dream about the person and we wake up angry and do not want to even think about the person. The key here is to understand that the process is not a straight line. Have patience with yourself. Try to have patience with the one whom you are forgiving. In time, this back-and-forth will even out and improvements in forgiving are likely as you continue to persevere in the forgiveness process.
Is the one who forgives showing you respect as a person? Is the person bringing up the incident and dominating you or are you both now on the same level in terms of your humanity? Does the other show an interest in reconciling with you and, if so, do you think that he or she is trusting you now in most areas of life? Positive answers to these questions are good indicators that the other has forgiven you.
How do I correct a child who equates forgiving with revenge? The thought in this child, age 6, is that if he can get back at the other person, then they can move on together.
A key issue is to begin talking with the child about how all people are special, unique, and irreplaceable. All people have built-in worth. As Horton the elephant says in the Dr. Seuss classic, Horton Hears a Who, “A person’s a person no matter how small.” Try to get the child to see this and to see that the proper response to other people is kindness. Getting back at someone who behaved badly is not kindness and so this cannot possibly be forgiveness. It is important also to bring in the issue of justice. If a child is being bullied by another, for example, the one who might forgive needs to seek justice by telling an adult about the unfair situation.
I am somewhat confused. I thought that forgiveness is getting rid of resentment toward an offending person. That is what I read the most. So, what’s wrong with this as a definition of forgiving?
While reducing resentment is part of the definition of forgiveness, it cannot be the complete definition because one can reduce resentment, for example, by dismissing the offending person. In other words, a person might reduce resentment and then says to oneself, “That other person is worthless. I am moving on.” Failing to acknowledge the personhood of the other and dismissing that other person is not a moral virtue. Therefore, it cannot be all that encompasses forgiveness, given that forgiveness is a moral virtue.