Forgiveness: is the idea of a freely chosen motivation transformation in which the desire to seek revenge and to avoid contact with the transgressor is lessened, a process sometimes described as an altruistic gift (e.g., Enright, Freedman, & Rique, 1998; Worthington, 2001).
AKA: Replacing revenge with goodwill toward an offender.
The Different Levels of Forgiveness:
Trait Forgiveness: a constant attitude to forgive (forgiving across multiple disciplines, occur across a variety of relationships)
Expectation in an interpersonal relationship (dyadic forgiveness): forgiving across many offenses in the same relationship (marriage, co-worker, family)
Offense-specific response forgiveness: a single act of forgiveness for a specific offence within an interpersonal relation (considers: severity, intentionality, the degree to which it violates personal or relational expectations)
How does forgiveness help?
- Reduces rumination, hostility, sadness, and depression
- Better mental health [posterior cingulated gyrus & forgiveness = relief]
- Better physical health [stress reduction, adaptive coping, sleep, cardiovascular functions]
- Better interpersonal relationships [co-workers, partners, family]
- Increase self-awareness, emotional regulation, and honesty within one’s self
Freely given forgiveness is relevant to the GOOD life and greater life satisfaction!
Positive Psychology: How do we facilitate the teaching of forgiveness?
- Forgiveness has the potential to enhance functioning and not to simply protect against dysfunction.
- Motivation: an internal desire, initiate a goal – creating a better community or society
- Benevolence (Beneficence): the quality of being well meaning; kindness (doing good for others and promoting the well-being of clients)
- Reach the optimal human experience!
- Forgiveness facilitates and contributes to the good life and the meaningful life!
Issues with Forgiveness
Detrimental forgiveness: Ongoing conflictual relationships, due to the transgressor not being held fully accountable for his or her actions.
Manipulation: forgiveness given to put others down, or forgiveness for personal gain
Community forgiveness: how to facilitate forgiveness in large groups and social units
What can forgiveness be disguised as?
- Denial: unwillingness to acknowledge the offense
- Condoning: removes the offense (removes the need to forgive)
- Pardon: granted only by default (excuse the offense)
- Forgetting: removing the offense from one’s consciousness
- Reconciliation: restoring a relationship despite the offense due to the relationship
- Forgive and forget
- When forgiveness occurs, justice is served
- Forgiveness requires reconciliation
- What positive emotions, strengths, and virtues correlate with forgiveness?
- How does culture and structural factors influence forgiveness?
- How do you feel about the legal systems view on forgiveness?
- Restorative justice: a system of criminal justice which focuses on the rehabilitation of offenders through reconciliation with victims and the community at large.
Berry, J. W., & Worthington, E. L., Jr. (2001). Forgivingness, relationship quality, stress while imagining relationship events, and physical and mental health. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 48(4), 447–455. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-0184.108.40.2067
The Psychology of Interpersonal Forgiveness and Guidelines for Forgiveness TEnright, R. D., Freedman, S., & Rique, J. (1998). The psychology of interpersonal forgiveness. In R. D. Enright & J. North (Eds.), Exploring forgiveness (p. 46–62). University of Wisconsin Press.