I continue to feel much guilt for some of my unjust behaviors toward others. I can’t seem to shake off this guilt. If you could summarize self-forgiveness in a few sentences to help me with that, what would you say?
Here is a summary of self-forgiveness for you: Commit to doing no harm to yourself (for example, better nutrition, more rest and exercise). See yourself with “new eyes.” Yes, you are imperfect, but your strong guilt shows that you now have good intentions toward yourself and toward others whom you might have hurt. You are a person of worth. Try to bear the pain so you do not subvert yourself or even toss that pain to others. Try to be good to yourself as an end in and of itself… and then go to those whom you have offended and seek forgiveness.
My adult grandson keeps asking me for a loan of money. I give it, he does not pay it back, and then he says that he “forgives” himself for the lack of payment. He then asks me for more money. Is self-forgiveness really this kind of illusion?
While genuine self-forgiveness can be helpful when people break their own moral standard, in the case of false self-forgiveness, the person may “self-forgive” as an excuse to remain in inappropriate and hurtful behavior. In such a case as your adult grandson, the false forgiveness might reduce guilt, freeing the person to continue the lack of payment with the resultant wasting of your funds. I think it is time for a heart-to-heart talk with him. He is fooling himself (but he is not fooling you) regarding what self-forgiveness actually is. In genuine self-forgiveness, there is an inner remorse, a genuine repentance to you, and reparation, in this case repaying the debt.
Tim Markle, a contributing writer and speaker for the International Forgiveness Institute (IFI), has teamed up with Stoughton Health to create a series of informational podcasts on the basics of forgiveness.
Markle is a multi-talented and versatile professional who says his two major aspirations in life are helping individuals with developmental disabilities and educating people about the benefits of forgiveness. The podcasts are part of the hospital’s Stoughton Health Talk series hosted by Melanie Cole. The ever-expanding program lineup featuring Markle includes:
- Forgiving Yourself ( 10 min. 42 sec.) – “You’d be surprised at the number of people who come to my course on forgiveness and realize that the person that they have the most resentment against is themselves.” Markle says. “This is something so many people are struggling with.”
- Swimming in Unforgiveness (17 min. 58 sec.) – Markle discusses resentment, anger, and forgiveness, and how the world encourages us to deal with it as opposed to how we should deal with it.
- Preparing to Forgive (9 min. 20 sec.) – “One of the core parts of forgiving is that there has been a hurt, somebody has violated our concept of right or wrong. They have hurt us. There is an actual injury that has been done” according to Markle. “One of the steps in forgiving is admitting that and acknowledging it. And then, looking at how has that hurt changed my life?”
- Doing the Work of Forgiveness (10 min. 54 sec.) – “How do you actually go about forgiving someone?” Markle asks. “Using Dr. Enright’s forgiveness model, we talk about the path you can take and actions you make to really forgive.”
- The Art of Forgiveness (11 min. 15 sec.) Research has shown that by forgiving someone who has deeply hurt you, you gain positive health benefits by letting go of resentment and the urge to seek revenge. In this podcast, Markle describes how forgiveness creates a higher quality of life, a healthier body, and a more positive attitude.
The Stoughton Health Talk Podcast series reflects the growing popularity of podcasts. According to Edison Research and Triton Digital, more than 104 million Americans listen to podcasts on at least a monthly basis. Stoughton Health is one of more than 100 leading hospitals and health systems using the DoctorPodcasting production system. The facility is located about 20 miles east of Madison, WI.
For the past 11 years, Markle has been an Outreach Specialist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Waisman Center. His current roles there include: 1) Director of the Southern Regional Center for Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs; 2) Family Discipline Coordinator for the WIsconsin Maternal and Child Health Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities–the WI LEND Program; and, 3) Senior Outreach Specialist with the Youth Health Transition Initiative and Genetic Systems Integration Hub.
In those various capacities, Markle works to improve the lives of children and adults with developmental disabilities and neurodegenerative diseases, some of life’s most challenging conditions. He also develops curriculum for a variety of audiences, provides training for both children and adults, and is a prolific speaker.
Markle has a Masters in Counseling (MC) from John Carroll University (a Jesuit Catholic University in Cleveland, OH) and a Master of Arts in Christian Studies (MACS) from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School north of Chicago. He also studied at Bowling Green State University (Bowling Green, OH), where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Philosophy.
As the capstone project for his MACS degree, Markle developed a six-week course that focused on how to forgive and why forgiveness is indispensable for dealing with anger, depression, anxiety and trauma. The course is based on the ground-breaking work of Dr. Robert Enright, co-founder of the IFI. Stoughton Health, along with two local churches, has thus far hosted five sessions of the course. Markle is also the founder of a forgiveness education organization called Forgiveness Factor.
- Access all of Stoughton Health’s 68 podcasts covering a variety of health and wellness topics.
- Read Tim Markle’s autobiography.
- Contact Markle through his Contact Page.
While “perseverance” and “grit” may be apt descriptors for what turned out to be perhaps the most peculiar year in modern history, forgiveness researcher Dr. Robert Enright, founder of the International Forgiveness Institute, has a different take on 2020: “Without question, it turned out to be our most productive year since I began studying forgiveness three decades ago.”
Scientific Research Studies:
To illustrate his point, the man Time magazine called “the forgiveness trailblazer,” rattled off the 11 scientifically-based manuscripts he and various team members completed and had published or accepted for publication during the year. Covering a wide range of cultural diversity, and encompassing studies in seven countries with both adult and child participants, those studies included (click title to read more):
- Compassionate love and dispositional forgiveness: Does compassionate love predict dispositional forgiveness? (Conducted in the United States) – Published in Journal of Spirituality in Mental Health.
- Measuring intergroup forgiveness: The Enright Group Forgiveness Inventory. (China, Taiwan, Slovenia, United States) – Peace and Conflict Studies.
- Effectiveness of forgiveness education with adolescents in reducing anger and ethnic prejudice in Iran. (Iran) – Journal of Educational Psychology.
- A philosophical and psychological examination of “justice first”: Toward the need for both justice and forgiveness when conflict arises. – Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology [in press].
- An addition to peace education: Toward the process of a Just and Merciful Community in schools. (China and the United States) – Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology [in press].
- Evaluation of the effectiveness and satisfaction of the Learning to Forgive Program for the prevention of bullying. (Spain) – Electronic Journal of Educational Psychology [in press].
- Trauma and healing in the under-served populations of homelessness and corrections: Forgiveness therapy as an added component to intervention. – Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy [in press].
- Validating the Enright Self-Forgiveness Inventory. (United States) – Current Psychology [in press].
- A randomized controlled trial of a forgiveness intervention program with female acid attack survivors in Pakistan. (Pakistan) –Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy [in press].
- “A Review of the Empirical Research Using Enright’s Process Model of Interpersonal Forgiveness” (International) – Handbook of forgiveness .
- “Forgiveness Within Psychotherapy” (International) – The Wiley Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences: Models and Theories.
In addition to his first love (scientific research on forgiveness, as evidenced by the list above), Dr. Enright developed and delivered targeted forgiveness presentations in the U.S. and around the world during 2020. His more noteworthy audiences included:
- Staff and imprisoned people at Her Majesty’s Prison – Edinburgh, Scotland.
- Doctors and medical specialists attending an online conference on polyclonal immunoglobulins in patients with multiple myeloma – Bratislava, Slovakia.
- Pediatricians, oncologists, and cancer treatment specialists attending the Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Educational Conference – Madison, Wisconsin.
- Faculty and research associates at the Pan-European University – Bratislava, Slovakia.
- School administrators and teachers – Belfast, Northern Ireland.
- Students and faculty of Liberty University – Lynchburg, Virginia.
- Rotary Club members – Richmond, California.
Media Interviews, Podcasts, Video Productions:
As a highly-sought-after media personality, Dr. Enright’s 2020 media interviews included:
- A 67-minute podcast hosted and broadcast by Dr. Alexandra Miller, a popular family relations psychologist, on Rehabilitating those who are ‘Forgotten’: People in Prison. The podcast was downloaded by individuals in 225 US cities and 22 foreign countries in just the first three weeks after it was recorded in July.
- A multi-segment forgiveness video produced for Revolution Ventures, Bangalore, India.
- A “therapeutic music-discussion video” with song-writer/performer Sam Ness that was produced for those struggling with anguish caused by COVID-19. The therapeutic video, called “How to Beat the Coronavirus Lockdown Blues,” was distributed worldwide through venues including YouTube.
- A video interview at the International School of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel.
- Interview for DER SPIEGEL/Spiegel online, a German weekly news magazine that has the largest circulation of any such publication in Europe.
- Interview with author Aaron Hutchins for Maclean’s—a current affairs magazine with 2.4 million readers based in Toronto, Canada.
- Interview with Süddeutsche Zeitung GmbH, Germany’s largest daily newspaper.
- Podcast interview with Dr. Peter Miller, Sport and the Growing Good: 8 Keys to Forgiveness.
- Live interview, The Drew Mariani Show (national), Relevant Radio.
- Interview with Dr. Max Bonilla, International Director, Expanded Reason webinar, Madrid, Spain.
BLOGS AND MORE:
The activity doesn’t stop there. During 2020, Dr. Enright:
- Authored 12 new forgiveness-related blogs for Psychology Today and 12 more for “Our Forgiveness Blog” on the International Forgiveness Institute website.
- Provided written responses on the IFI website for 208 “Ask Dr. Forgiveness” questions.
- Together with Jacqueline Song, IFI researcher and creator of the IFI’s Driver Safety Campaign, distributed more than 5,000 “Drive for Others’ Lives” bumper stickers requested by website visitors and funded by a grant from the Green Bay Packers Foundation.
My boyfriend, who is straining our relationship, keeps borrowing money from me, not paying it back, and then he proclaims that he is forgiving himself. He then continues in the same pattern. Is this really self-forgiveness? If so, I want none of it.
Your boyfriend actually is engaging in what we call false self-forgiveness or pseudo self-forgiveness. Genuine self-forgiveness includes remorse or sorrow for what was done, repentance toward those who are hurt, and a genuine change of behavior, as well as a welcoming the self back into the human community. You might want to point this out to him so that he can stop the denial of the hurtful behavior and possibly be open to change