The Psychology Of Forgiveness
The Psychology Of Forgiveness
Forgiveness stills resentment and guilt, and places common sense in control. Forgiveness towards others discards petty resentment and enables fair judgment. Forgiveness towards oneself frees the mind from the debilitating pain of guilt. Resentment and guilt resemble the futile actions of a bird flailing against a cage. The emotions are the unhealthy yelps and squeals of the primitive regions of the brain against unacceptable situations.
Forgiveness quiets those regions. It is a process, which accepts the offensive situation, making way for the calm responses of wiser regions of the brain. While it does not imply acceptance of evil, psychological forgiveness accepts reality and strengthens the mind to move forward.
- Forgiveness leads to a healthier and happier life.
- Forgiving is difficult, because people associate it with weakness and as an acceptance of evil.
- Resentment and guilt are negative emotions, which can be stilled.
- The mind control tips in this website suggest ways of stilling emotions.
- Forgiveness does not support injustice and is not a method of regaining goodwill.
- Forgiveness is effective, when practiced as a virtue, but can also become a failing.
- Religious views of forgiveness.
- The Worthington program of reaching forgiveness.
Psychology Of Forgiveness –Benefits
true act of forgiveness removes resentment, bitterness and guilt from
the subconscious mind. Numerous studies show that people who forgive
are happier and healthier than those who hold resentments. When
troubling visceral responses, which accompany bitterness, resentment
and guilt are stilled, calm and compassionate views of the world
emerge, enabling wiser decision making. The positive benefit of
forgiveness have been seen to be similar whether it was based upon
religious or secular counseling.
Psychology Of Forgiveness –The Difficulty Of Forgiving
Gallup Poll in 1988 found that, while 94% said it was important to
forgive, 85% felt they needed outside help to be able to forgive.
Communities resent people who lie, steal, cheat, sell out, or betray
their own values, since they threaten everyone. Guilt is also
subconsciously triggered, when a person acts against accepted social
norms. People fear that, if they still the anger or guilt, they will
not act to rectify the wrong. They fear that forgiveness could be
seen as weakness. The fear of the docile acceptance of evil makes it
difficult to forgive.
forgiving an offense and forgiving oneself for wrongdoing feel
instinctively wrong, because of a false impression of the
psychological process of forgiveness. It is not the submissive
acceptance of wrongdoing. It is an internal stilling process, not
condonation of evil. It is about stopping subconscious accusations
and complaints. Stilling mental turmoil creates the ability to look
calmly at the offense. Such calming exercises are difficult for
Psychology Of Forgiveness –Competing Control Systems
is needed, because resentment and guilt are the sterile responses of
your mind to harmful events. Such responses are triggered by the most
primitive parts of your “triune” brain. Within the brain, three
evolutionary intelligences compete for control. At the lowest level,
a reptilian brain produces territorial responses like anger or raw
fear. At the next level, a mammalian brain controls the system
through social emotions, like guilt and shame. These are the more
primitive responses, which have a hapless way of taking charge of
is within your power to free your mind by stilling such negative
emotions. When the mind becomes still, a highly developed human level
brain in the prefrontal regions switches in to make a rational
interpretation of your world. With your primitive responses stilled,
your compassionate common sense takes control. Forgiveness is its
natural state, when negative emotions are stilled. There are simple
routines, which can still the mind and create conditions where
forgiveness takes charge.
Psychology Of Forgiveness –On Stilling Resentment &
and guilt are triggered by subconscious search drives, which seek
vengeance, or to avoid social disapproval. Such searches go on, while
you look at a lunch menu, or chat with your friend. But, when those
subconscious searches encounter the painful results of failure,
visceral reactions hit you. You may not even be aware of the causes
of your discomfort. The mind
control tips in
this website suggest exercises for relaxing your body so that
negative emotions cannot take hold.
exercises can disperse the adrenal hormone cortisol, which supports
the fight or flight response, including increased heart rate. Self
awareness, which requires practice, can identify the physical
symptoms of resentment, or guilt, instantly stilling the emotions.
That leads to the sudden appearance of a surprisingly unemotional
viewpoint. While these mind control tips present one of the ways of
achieving forgiveness, the remainder of this article deals with the
psychology of forgiveness.
Psychology Of Forgiveness –Forgiveness Is Not Injustice
a person can forgive another for a perceived offense. In this case,
forgiveness stops resentment and the vindictive drive to inflict
punishment. As Jean Safer suggests, it is not necessary feel okay
about terrible things. Psychological forgiveness is not a process,
which halts the operation of normal justice. After discarding
vindictive resentment, calm and compassionate steps should be taken
to prevent a recurrence such incidents, even if it requires
punishment. Forgiveness is a process of replacing subconscious
bitterness and resentment with compassionate common sense. That is
not a piece of mental acrobatics, but a process achieved through
relaxation and self awareness.
a person may seek forgiveness for an offense committed against
another. Forgiveness is not a process of achieving goodwill from the
victim. Neither is it a matter of seeking divine pardon. Forgiveness
of offenses, without a change in behavior by the offender, leads only
to destructive relationships. Self forgiveness is about a decision to
atone for the offense, while stilling a humiliating sense of guilt.
It is a common sense admission of having committed an offense, with a
calm determination to change. Stilling self punishing guilt feelings
is the same self awareness process of enabling common sense to take
Psychology Of Forgiveness –Forgiveness As A Virtue
conscious decision to forgive may, or may not result in the
disappearance of resentment over the commitment of an offense by
another. Such a decision may be more effective, if one feels it to be
an act of virtue. The satisfaction of virtue may cause the mind to
avoid reliving the issue with resentment. This virtuous satisfaction
may increase if the offender persists with the offense. In such
cases, the virtue becomes a failing.
virtuous approach may cause subconscious anger to pile up, and
explode into view against an innocent victim. By permitting someone
to persistently break the bounds of courtesy, the virtuous person is
also damaging society. The offender will harm others too. It is
equally the duty of the virtuous person to prevent, or avoid becoming
a victim of future offenses. This may be impossible in many cases,
particularly when the offenders are in positions of power. The
satisfaction of being virtuous, or a conscious resignation to the
situation will both be equally effective in such situations.
Psychology Of Forgiveness –The Religious View
believes that a key divine quality is forgiveness. Such forgiveness
requires the believer to forgive his brother. Protestant
denominations suggest that divine forgiveness requires a sincere
expression of repentance. Even a gift at the altar should be offered
only after forgiving others. For the Catholic Church, acts of penance
mediated by the church can also bring divine forgiveness. The grant
of such divine forgiveness is formally expressed through ritual acts
by the church.
Judaism, a person cannot obtain divine forgiveness for wrongs they
have done to others. It is the responsibility of the wrongdoer to
recognize their wrongdoing and to seek forgiveness from those who
have been harmed. A person can only obtain divine forgiveness for
acts against divinity. Just prior to Yom Kippur, Jews will ask
forgiveness of those they have wronged. On the day itself, they fast
and pray for divine forgiveness.
Islam, divinity is the source of all forgiveness. One must ask for
divine forgiveness through repentance. In the case of human
forgiveness, it is important to both forgive, and to be forgiven.
Buddhism, forgiveness is seen as a practice to prevent harmful
emotions from creating havoc with one’s sense of well-being. Since
feelings of hatred and ill-will leave a lasting effect on the mind,
forgiveness encourages the cultivation of wholesome emotions. They
consider the offender to be the most unfortunate of all and requires
Psychology Of Forgiveness –Worthington
L. Worthington recommends decisional and emotional forgiveness. A
decision, not to seek revenge, or to avoid the person, reduces the
stress. But, the objective should be to replace resentment,
bitterness, hostility, hatred, anger, and fear with love, compassion,
sympathy, and empathy. This prevents subconscious obsessions about
the wrong done to you. This can lead to anxiety, depression and even
has devised a 5-step program called REACH to achieve emotional
forgiveness. First, recall the
hurt objectively, without blame and self-victimization.
Then, empathize by
trying to imagine the viewpoint of the person who wronged you. After that, altruism involves
experiencing the feeling of being forgiven by someone else. This is
followed by a commitment to
forgiveness and holding on
awareness suggested in this website enables the prefrontal regions to
look calmly at the hurt. Empathy is a process of experiencing the
emotions of the offender. This process may not lead to a calming
effect. Rather than empathy, a common sense view of the twisted logic
of the offender can enable the acceptance of reality – the world as
it really is, with all its sores and warts. Self awareness enables
this. The experience of being forgiven by another is a valuable
reinforcement to forgiveness. Constant self awareness and ability to
identify the emotion at its inception is the requirement to prevent a
recurrence of resentment and guilt.
This page was last updated on 01-Jan-2014.