What does forgiveness mean to you? According to psychologists, whether forgiveness is deserved or not, it is a conscious and deliberate decision to release the feelings of resentment or vengeance towards the individual who caused the harm. Now, forgiveness does not mean forgetting what has occurred that you are excusing the wrongful and indecorous acts.
Forgiveness is not an easy task, especially if there was an intense amount of hurt and loss of trust involved. There are some acts that take hours, days, months, years, or even a lifetime to forgive. Coming to terms with what happened to cause your hurt can be very complicated, but taking the proper steps can provide both emotional and physical benefits.
Forgiveness is so complicated that psychologists have broken it down into two parts.
Part One is referred to as decisional forgiveness. This part means to make the decision to forgive and not seek out retribution or retaliation. This is typically the easier aspect of forgiveness because it is the type of person we are. It is understood that someone has done us wrong, but our morals remind us that causing them harm will not solve any issue and will cause additional problems.
Part Two is known as emotional forgiveness. This is the second part of forgiveness and tends to take longer than decisional forgiveness. During this part of forgiveness, there is a release of the negative emotions we are feeling towards the person that was part of the wrongdoings.
Forgiveness is often considered to be fulfilled when there are not any negative emotions lingering and our feelings are neutral. It has been suggested that forgiveness occurs when the feelings you once felt for the wrongdoer are able to return. Emotional forgiveness entails us to abolish any unforgiving feelings.
Many people seem to get confused about what forgiveness is and isn’t. The following items are examples of what forgiveness isn’t.
- Forgetting- Even though we may have come to terms with what caused our hurt, it doesn’t mean we have forgotten what took place. Remembering the wrongdoing can be beneficial for us so we do not fall into the same negative trap again.
- Condoning- You do not have to view the wrongdoing as acceptable or allow the person that did wrong to behave in the same manner again.
- Denying or minimizing- Emotionally you may have moved on from the hurtful situation, but this doesn’t mean the severity of hurt inflicted should be denied.
- Pardoning- Even if we have forgiven the person that hurt us, it doesn’t mean justice can’t be served. You may need your local law enforcement to get involved if the situation requires them.
- Reconciliation- Forgiveness could involve mending a damaged relationship. However, just because we have forgiven someone, it doesn’t mean the person that caused the hurt should remain in our life.
- Repression- When you are hurt by someone, this is a valid feeling. Just because we have forgiven someone, doesn’t mean we should push our feelings into our unconscious mind.
Forgiveness does offer many health benefits as it can effectively combat the physical and emotional effects of the wrongdoing. Other benefits include positive effects on anger, anxiety, grief, post-traumatic stress, depression, blood pressure, and even lower back pain.
There have been several models developed to help make forgiveness a little easier.
Robert D. Enright, Ph.D. a processor, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a pioneer in the scientific research of forgiveness created The Enright Forgiveness Model. Dr. Enright broke forgiveness into four phases, which are as followed:
- Uncovering phase-
This phase consists of four questions to answer before forgiveness can take place.
- Who has hurt you and who are they to you?
- What was done to cause your hurt? What took place, was said, and the circumstance encircling the act
- What was the outcome or the act? What ways were you impacted?
- How did the act affect your mental and emotional well-being?
This phase allows you to uncover as much as you can about what took place. Addressing the issues will cause emotional distress.
- Decision Phase-
This is a decision you will make to direct your life in a positive direction. This relates to decisional forgiveness and requires you to let go of any feelings of retaliation.
- Work Phase-
You may need to change your views of the person that wronged you. This could require you to look past the way this person has hurt you and view their background for answers regarding their behavior. Once you can view this person in a different way, you may realize the actions were due to their childhood or other aspects of their past and be able to empathize with them. Nothing you have discovered requires reconciliation, but you might be able to start taking small steps to rebuild the relationship if that’s what you want.
- Deepening Phase-
This is the final step in understanding that forgiveness provides an emotional release. You can acknowledge that the negative emotions felt are because of the wrongdoing has eased up and it is time to forgive the wrongdoer.
You know that our growth tends to come during the most difficult times in our life. You may even begin looking at your own life and actions made differently and see that you may need to seek forgiveness from another person.
This was a short and simple overview of Dr. Enright’s process. If you have further interest, there is a book available on Amazon that I am including a link for. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1557987572/ref=as_li_qf_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=aconret-20&creative=9325&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=1557987572&linkId=1bcd69054c6ba8b9b4855006995193ad
- A semi-retired professor at Virginia Commonwealth University, Everett Worthington Jr. Ph.D. created a different model called Worthington REACH Forgiveness Model. REACH is an acronym, each letter representing a stage in the model.
R- Recall- This is the first step, where you need to look back at the event that caused your hurt. It might be difficult, but keep things as objective as you can. Only stick to the facts and words that were spoken. Remember the person that wronged you is not a bad person, they are simply human. You are not a victim, but you are just another humanbeing. The wrongdoing you experienced is no more than a series of actions taken.
E- Empathize- This will be challenging, but we need to try putting ourselves in the other person’s shoes. If we asked this person, what would be a possible reason they behaved as they did? Did they have motives? Were there circumstances involved and how did they contribute to the hurtful event?
Are you able to see any reason you can feel sympathy for the wrongdoer?
A- Altruistic Gift– We will be viewing forgiveness as a gift to the wrongdoer in this model. This is a gift coming from a purely unselfish point. This is not an easy step, but it is an important step.
Think back to a time you may have hurt someone else causing that person to have a challenging time, but this person forgave you. How did this make you feel? Were you relieved you were forgiven?
Now, recall a time when you previously forgave someone? How did this make you feel? Completely understanding that forgiving in the past offered you comfort and peace; would you consider this to be a gift?
C- Commit- When you finally reach the point you are ready to forgive the wrongdoer, you must be sure you fully commit to this.
How are you going to move forward with forgiving? Write a letter or email; call the person or any other means you see fit. Whatever you decide to do, remind yourself you are fully committed to forgiving and act on it!
H- Hold onto forgiveness- In the previous stage, we were committing to forgiving in a way that we would not change our minds. Remember, forgiving is completely up to you and you hold the power to choose what emotions you allow to control your mind. The memories of the situation will always be there. Just remember, you are not taking the forgiveness away, just know and remember the way you felt, so you will hopefully not feel it again.
Anything can be forgiven; just some acts may take longer to get through. When we forgive someone nothing will happen overnight, so remember to take the time you need to be ready to forgive!
Thank you for visiting my site today. I hope this information was beneficial to you. Sometimes forgiveness might seem impossible, but with the right amount of time and understanding, you will get there. I would love to read your thoughts on forgiveness. We have all been in a position we had to make a choice to forgive someone or not. I do think forgiveness is more to help our emotional state of mind, than the other person, but what do you think?
Please never forget that I am always sending y’all LOTS of love , comfort, and many positive vibes!!