Forgiveness is the action to let go or give up resentment, indignation or anger caused by an offense committed by another or ourselves. It’s a voluntary change of destructive behaviors directed against the damage that has been done for other more constructive.
When we hurt the immediate reaction is to go against logic and who hurt us, this reaction is natural and logical bur it has it’s problems. Forgiveness is not a single act that is done in a given time, is an ongoing process that can go deeper and completing over time. So there are several steps of forgiveness that can be considered as a series of tasks that are completed and increasing the process up to the fullest extent of forgiveness. Everett L. Worthinton describes Five Steps to Forgiveness as follow:
- Recall the hurt – This can be a difficult step since naturally we try to scape hurt mentally and physically. but escaping thoughts is more difficult and can be highly frustrating. Forgiveness can be difficult if feelings of fear and anger dominate you. If you’re attacking the person who hurt you forgiveness will not be possible. One way to overcome the fear and anger is to recall the hurt and accept the pain for what it is. Again, this can be a difficult task to do on your own. Seeking help can facilitate the process.
- Empathize with the one who hurt you – Trying to understand the other person not from your own perspective, but from that of the other person. The purpose is not to find an excuse for them, but to find an explanation that you can live with, and possible let go of the fear and anger.
- Offer the Altruistic gift of forgiveness – Think of a time when you felt guilty about hurting another and how that person forgave you. Think about how grateful you felt.
- Make a Commitment to forgive – This commitment is better to be done publicly so you don’t have a chance to back up later.
- Hold on to the forgiveness – Form time to time, memories of the hurtful event will resurface even after you have forgives the wrongdoer. These memories are usually less intense as they were before forgave the wrongdoer.
Studies have been done measuring the consequences of procedures of these and similar steps to learn and practice forgiveness. These studies consistently show that forgiveness reduces chronic anger, fear and stress, increases optimism and brings health benefits.
Forgiveness is NOT:
Forgiveness does not necessarily include reconciliation. To forgive or ask for forgiveness are personal choices that do not require the assistance of another person. However, reconciliation is for two. For example, forgiveness will not ever restore the relationship with someone who most likely can return to harm.
Forgiveness does not mean forget what happened, it involves changing destructive behaviors to positive behaviors towards the offender, as indicated.
Forgiveness is not justifying the offense or minimize it.
Forgiveness is not necessarily to raise the penalty of the offender and not suffer the consequences of their actions. For there to be reconciliation requires that the offender makes a restitution of the damage he/she has done, if possible, or serve the sentence that society imposes. Forgiveness is for the forgiver to stop searching actively for justice and is sparing with the consequences, since the expected justice will not necessarily bring emotional release.
Forgiveness is not a sign of weakness, because it is not giving permission to another to hurt again, but instead being careful not to let others hurt us again.
Forgiveness can be a difficult process, do not hesitate to seek the help of a loved one or a professional if you’re having difficulty with forgiving.
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