The Psychology of Forgiveness


The Psychology of Forgiveness

[Article via Psychology Today. Click above for full post]

Forgiveness is a loaded word. It’s been tossed around self-help circles for years, but little has been made of what the science behind forgiveness can teach us about our own lives.

Let’s start with what forgiveness is not. Much of the self-help world has suggested that forgiveness does not mean you become best friends with the person who wronged you. Forgiveness is not saying what happened was ok. Forgiveness is not saying you accept the person who wronged you. Instead, forgiveness is choosing to accept what happened as it happened rather than what could or should have happened. Forgiveness can mean that you let go. Forgiveness can mean you love from a distance. Forgiveness can mean you step into your present rather than anchoring in the past.

Forgiveness is the cornerstone of any relationship, romantic or otherwise. We assume people see life the way we see life. However, there are as many perceptions as there are people in this world. Our lack of understanding of other people’s perceptions can create gaps built on miscommunication, anger, animosity, and emotional disconnection. However, our relationshp with forgiveness can help bridge these gaps.

We can intellectualize what forgiveness is as long as we want, but it’s a process that takes time for most. When betrayal and miscommunication inhibit our ability to forgive, it’s ok to feel those feelings. Shock and anger often comes before forgiveness. We must first deal with the hurt feelings before moving into forgivenss. Let us respect that process – a process that can happen without us even realizing it. Sometimes by simply exploring the situation and acknowledging the impact of the betrayal, the reasons and context behind the betrayal can be the beginning blocks of forgiveness.

Some people can forgive at the drop of a dime while others need their time. The act of forgiving is one of realizing that holding onto the anger and resentment no longer carries the same weight on us. Instead of seeing something as good or bad, we begin to see things with full acceptance, as they are, however that is.

Although there are a variety of definitions of forgiveness, research has suggested they all have 3 common components:

[Rest of article is posted on Psychology Today. See below for link.]

Original article posted on Psychology Today. Read the rest of the post here at Psychology Today!

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Rubin Khoddam, Clinical Psychology PhD student at University of Southern California, founder of Psych Connection.

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