I am supposing that you have both broken your own standard (needing self-forgiveness) and you have been treated unjustly by others (needing to forgive them). In my experience, it is easier for most people to forgive others because we tend to be harder on ourselves. If this is true in your case, then you might want to start by forgiving others and once this is accomplished, and you know the forgiving path well, you then can apply that learning to forgive yourself.
The man Time magazine has called “the forgiveness trailblazer” is blazing forward in a new direction by offering to social science and moral development researchers around the world the accumulation of forgiveness research tools he has developed over the past 35 years. And he is giving them away at no cost and with no strings attached.
Dr. Robert Enright, co-founder of the International Forgiveness Institute (IFI), announced today that he is now providing his highly regarded scientific research tools absolutely free to any forgiveness researcher who requests them.
“This initiative is designed to help expand and broaden the growing collection of crucial forgiveness knowledge,” Dr. Enright says. “This area of moral development has already had significant impacts in the realms of education, medical treatment, and emotional therapy, so why not try to expand on that?”
Often introduced as “Dr. Forgiveness” because of his 35-year academic commitment to researching and implementing forgiveness programs, Dr. Enright is acknowledged as the unquestioned pioneer in the scientific study of forgiveness. The research tools he and his associates have developed have become highly coveted tools because of his meticulous validation of the scientific procedures he employs.
All of Dr. Enright’s research is done in conjunction with the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he is a Professor of Educational Psychology. You can access his peer-reviewed empirical studies, research abstracts, and published studies at Forgiveness Research.
In addition to sharing his research results, Dr. Enright is now making available his user-validated forgiveness research tools at no cost. Those tools include:
- The Enright Forgiveness Inventory-30 (EFI-30) – This tool is a shorter version of the Enright Forgiveness Inventory for Adults that has become the interpersonal forgiveness measure of choice for research professionals in the U.S. and abroad since its development in 1995. The EFI-30 reduces the number of items from 60 to 30 for the purpose of a more practical assessment of this construct. Data from the United States were used in the creation of the new measure and applied to seven nations: Austria, Brazil, Israel, Korea, Norway, Pakistan, and Taiwan to develop its psychometric validation.
- The Enright Self-Forgiveness Inventory (ESFI) – This measure is based on the conceptualization of forgiveness as a moral virtue. The ESFI is a 30-item scale featuring six subscales with five items each. Five additional items at the end of the scale allow for measurement of pseudo self-forgiveness (PSF). Although several competing self-forgiveness measures exist, Dr. Enright’s is the only one that captures the idea that self-forgiveness is a moral virtue that includes behavior toward the self.
- The Enright Group Forgiveness Inventory (EGFI) – Newly validated and published earlier this year, the EGFI has 56 items across seven subscales with each subscale having eight items. Those subscales measure a group’s motivation and values regarding forgiveness, peace, and friendliness toward the other group. Like the ESFI, it also has a PSF component and has dramatic implications for its ability to enhance peace efforts in the world.
To develop and validate the EGFI, Dr. Enright worked with a team of 16 international researchers who collected data from 595 study participants in three different geographic and cultural settings of the world—China and Taiwan, Slovenia, and the US. The study team’s findings documented that this new measure has strong internal consistency as well as convergent and discriminant validity.
- The Enright Forgiveness Inventory for Children (EFI-C) – The EFI-C is an objective measure of the degree to which a child forgives another who has hurt him or her deeply and unfairly. It is a 30-item scale similar to the 60-item adult version and is presented orally to very young children and in writing to those who can read well. Thanks to a researcher in Pakistan, the EFI-C is now available in the Urdu language—the native language of an estimated 230 million people, primarily in South Asia.
Dr. Enright is the author or editor of seven books. He published the first social scientific journal article on person-to-person forgiveness and the first cross-cultural studies of interpersonal forgiveness. He also pioneered scientific studies of forgiveness therapy and developed an early intervention to promote forgiveness–the 20-step Process Model of Forgiving.
By publicly sharing all his research studies and results in more than 100 publications over the years, Dr. Enright has earned recognition as being in the forefront of the science of forgiveness. The Los Angeles Times described Dr. Enright as “the guru of what many are calling a new science of forgiveness.” The Christian Science Monitor called him “the father of forgiveness research.”
Learn more about Dr. Enright’s free tools on the Forgiveness Research Tools page.
Something was done to you, your family or friends. The experience is so serious that the pain associated with it does not seem to end. Do you hope that the culprit will be punished and wish him a dark future? You cannot forgive him for the deed, then you suffer too much for it? But is this attitude beneficial for you and your mental health?
“Forgive me!” Is a sentence that many people find difficult to say. The person forgives you and you experience grace? Okay, then you’ll feel better. But what does it actually mean to forgive? And isn’t an excuse basically the same? Doesn’t there have to be an apology first so that it can be given? Everyone can apologize if they wish. You want to get rid of the accusation of guilt. However, those who apologize must wait if the request will be accepted. This means that the apology will not take effect until it is accepted. For this reason, the formulations are usually designed in such a way that they also require an answer. “I’m sorry. Do you accept my apology?” would be a possible variant.
Forgiveness is possible without an excuse
However, forgiveness does not depend on the offender who asks for relief. Forgiveness is a mental inner process that is decided by the person concerned. Forgiving someone does not have to be said. This way you can forgive someone without the perpetrator even knowing. The forgiveness is essentially a decision by the victim to whom the damage has been done. In general, forgiveness seems to symbolize greater acceptance of debt relief. Because forgiveness is preceded by the fact that the person concerned has worked intensively with this intention. And this form of forgiveness can also be done without prior excuse. However, excuses are also accepted to ensure peace. This is particularly the case with family matters. Apologies are accepted, although you don’t really want to accept this decision. In this case, family problems have a higher priority. Even in relationships, apologies are sometimes accepted half-heartedly. Maintaining the partnership is then more important.
But sometimes it seems impossible to forgive the guilty. Why is that? The pain that the person has experienced wants to be compensated. So the culprit should suffer just like you. He should live with his guilty conscience and suffer from it. The guilty person’s wish to be relieved of this burden is rejected. So it’s also a form of punishment that goes with it.
Unforgivability and the mental consequences
Many people believe that it is right not to forgive. In a sense, it’s also a form of vigilante justice. But many don’t know what it means to hold on to anger, resentment and hatred. You will never be able to get rid of it if you cannot forgive. Even years after the event, you still carry these negative vibrations with you. Some people harden mentally. You lose vitality and lightness. If you don’t forgive, you end up hurting yourself.
Extreme cases of revenge and forgiveness
In extreme cases, it is not enough to decide never to forgive the culprit. The emotional injury and pain is so great that feelings of revenge arise. And in some cases the revenge is actually implemented. Apparently one believes that with this act one experiences a relief of the pain.
The Bachmeier case is an example of this. In 1981 Marianne Bachmeier shoots the alleged murderer of her seven-year-old daughter Anna in the courtroom. The case went down in history as a prime example of vigilante justice. We can now ask ourselves whether Ms. Bachmeier has become happy. Did the pain of losing her daughter disappear after she shot the perpetrator? We’ll leave the answer open. The fact is that Marianne Bachmeier died of cancer in 1996.
Dianne B. Collard
The opposite example is Dianne B. Collard, whose son was shot in 1992. The American woman renounced revenge and forgave the murderer. In an interview, she announced that forgiveness is an inner healing for her. She got rid of the bitterness and could finally mourn her son. She explained that forgiveness is not a feeling for her, but a decision of the will. She deliberately chose to suppress resentment and bitterness. She has probably found that this approach is helpful for her future quality of life. Faith helped her choose forgiveness and revenge.
Both examples are very interesting and probably anyone with children can understand the strength of such decisions.
Forgiveness does not erase the deed
Many people believe that forgiveness is viewed as reversed or relativized. But that’s not what forgiveness is about. It is not possible to deny something that has taken place. Forgiveness means that you agree to remove your resentment, hatred, or anger. This can sometimes lead to misunderstandings when a former friend is forgiven. He believes that with this forgiveness the friendly level is active again. However, this is not always the case and sometimes not possible. If a breach of trust triggers a forgiven argument, a new friendship (reconciliation) can be difficult.
Forgiveness does not automatically create trust. And the question arises whether this is still desirable. Because those who have had such experiences can banish the perpetrator from their own lives. Because the fear that such a scenario will repeat itself is predominant.
Dianne B. Collard also forgave the perpetrator, but will probably never be able to make friends with him. The severity of the emotional injury is too great to be overcome. Dianne B. Collard also believes that the punishment the perpetrator has to serve in prison is correct. Because the act of forgiveness is a mental process and does not mean that the act is declared null and void.
Forgiving other people can be a mental process that is not necessarily easy. But forgiving yourself is the master class in forgiveness. Remorse and guilt that gnaw at you prevent you from forgiving yourself. You are disappointed in yourself, so you punish yourself with it. This phenomenon occurs particularly often when a loved one has died. Immediately you ask yourself what you could have done differently to avoid the death. Even if your reasoning seems so absurd, you take on a form of guilt. It seems mentally better to endure declaring a guilty person than accepting an inevitable fate. If no one else is found, you look for the blame on yourself. It is extremely important to forgive yourself. You admit that you are a person who makes mistakes.
Persistent guilt doesn’t change the situation. For you, this means that you carry a constant burden around me. At the same time, you always face this negative vibration of your own guilt. Compassion for yourself is then practically eliminated. At such a stage, you should make sure that the condition does not degenerate into self-loathing. However, if you regret what happened and plan to do something different in the future, you are free internally. This sets you in motion bitterness, inner hardness and a self-directed attitude.
About the Author:
The author El Maya is a spiritual medium, clairvoyant and karma expert. She has published several books about soul, life plan, karma and life after death. This guide literature contains strategies to reduce your karma and find the soul center. Learn more at her website: Hellseher – Wahrsager und Karma Experten @Knowing Portal.
Because my family is in “very close quarters” lately because of the pandemic, I find that I can get more irritable than usual. Does this mean that I am a bad person and do I have to forgive myself for this?
If you have been truly unjust, then yes, you could ask others to forgive you and also forgive yourself. Yet, you may be falling for a false issue here which is being too harsh on yourself. A social worker once told me that those who care for others can develop the false sense that they never have done quite enough. So, as tensions emerge in your home, please be careful not to excessively blame yourself (“If only I had done more.”). We are all imperfect and so we have to be gentle with ourselves and others. Cut yourself some slack now, knowing that you are trying and accept your imperfections of fatigue anxiety at this time. I recommend that you refrain from forgiving yourself if you simply and truly are doing your best, yet the family is not interacting perfectly.
I have a recurring audio-recording in my mind about who I am: I am not much as a person; I am less than others; I deserve what I get. Can you help me, please.
These are false thoughts about yourself because, regardless of your past thoughts that are negative and generalized, you are special, unique, and irreplaceable. Do you want proof? Here is one piece of evidence: You have unique DNA. There never was anyone like you on the planet and when you no longer are here, there never will be another person quite like you. You are unique. You are irreplaceable. This makes you special, very special. It then follows that you have worth, an unconditional quality that cannot be taken from you despite any unfortunate circumstances you face. Your circumstances do not make you who you are. Your essence of being special, unique, and irreplaceable makes you who you are.