Forgiveness ≠ weakness - Deepstash

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The Psychology of Forgiveness

Forgiveness ≠ weakness

One roadblock people face with forgiveness is the idea of being seen as "weak" and saying that what the offender did is excusable.

It requires more strength to forgive. Staying angry, resentful, and vengeful can have a detrimental impact on your physical and emotional health as well as your relationships.

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Forgiveness does not mean forgetting

It’s highly unlikely that you’ll ever be able to forget a serious wrong committed against you. But it’s a mistake to assume that because your mind is drawn to a specific thought or memory, you should allow your attention to stay there.

Acknowledge your memories but then choose to re-focus your attention elsewhere.

Forgiveness and anger don’t mix

It’s normal to feel anger towards your offender. But unchecked anger often leads to unhelpful amounts of mental elaboration over the wrongs done to you.

When you notice yourself feeling angry, pause briefly and acknowledge the anger, then ask yourself if your anger will do you any good in the long-term. Just because your anger is justified doesn’t mean it’s helpful.

Forgiveness does not mean endorsement

Acceptance does not mean endorsement or justification.  Acceptance means acknowledging that you don’t have power or control over the past.

Accept the offense against you without excusing it. The key to taking control of your future is choosing to let go of the desire to control the past.

Define who and what
Identify the person who has affected you negatively.

Identify the specific behavior that damaged you. Consider the person as a whole with positive and negative behaviors. The person is not the behavior, but the behavior is a part of that person.

Let the feeling be felt
Any feelings that are attached to the damaging behavior need to be brought to the surface.

If you feel safe communicating with the person who hurt you, talk about your feelings or write them to him. 

Forgiveness is good for you

Many of us have anxious and negative attachments to people who have hurt us in the form of anger, hate, resentment, irrational guilt or shame.

Removing the negative attachment through forgiveness will make you feel liberated and open you to the positive that life has to offer.

Social ambiguity
Social ambiguity

Social life can be full of uncertainty. Friends don't always smile back at you. Strangers sometimes look upset. The question is how you interpret these situations. Do you take everything personally or do you think there are reasons they behave that way that has nothing to do with you?

While most people tend to overcome socially ambiguity with ease, knowing it is unavoidable, other people tend to see themselves as perpetual victims. They believe that one's life is entirely under the control of forces outside one's self.

The victimhood mindset

Researchers found the tendency for interpersonal victimhood consists of four main dimensions:

  • Always seeking recognition for one's victimhood: Those who score high on this dimension have a constant need to have their suffering acknowledged. It is also normal for victims to want the perpetrators to take responsibility for their wrongdoing.
  • Moral elitism: Those who score high on this dimension perceive themselves as having perfect morality while viewing everyone else as immoral. They view themselves as persecuted, vulnerable and morally superior.
  • Lack of empathy for the pain and suffering of others: People who score high on this dimension are so preoccupied with their own victimhood that they are unaware of the pain and suffering of others.
  • Frequently thinking of past victimization: Those scoring high on this dimension continuously think about their interpersonal offences and their causes and consequences rather than about possible solutions.
Mindset and self-image in interpersonal conflicts

In interpersonal conflict, all parties are motivated to maintain a positive moral self-image. However, different parties are likely to create very different subjective realities. Offenders tend to downplay the severity of the transgression, and victims tend to perceive the offenders' motivations as immoral.

The mindset one develops - as a victim or a perpetrator - affects the way the situation is perceived and remembered.