Forgiveness should be culturally appropriate

Individualists use forgiveness to relieve a burden and clear their conscience while collectivists use forgiveness to preserve social harmony, even if the individual still feels resentment towards their transgressor.

Western countries like the US or the UK tend to have more individualistic cultures, meaning personal gain is put before helping the wider group. In collectivistic cultures like Asia and Africa, the group is put first.

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What other cultures can teach us about forgiveness

bbc.com

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  • In many languages, "forgiveness" does not translate well. Ghana, for example, has more than 50 languages, which makes choosing a definition for "forgiveness" tricky.
  • It is normal for a younger person in Ghana to offer forgiveness to an older person and hide their annoyance, even if the older person is at fault.
  • With couples in Ghana, an act of forgiveness is accompanied by physical gestures, such as kneeling, prostrating, clasping their hands. Simply saying sorry is not enough.
  • Chinese cultures are not used to the term 'forgiveness'. Translated into Mandarin Chinese, [kuānshù] is quite formal and gives the impression that the committed offence was very serious.

It is then important to be considerate of other people's differences, whether it is a result of their culture or worldview.

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  • Decisional forgiveness is colder, cognitive, and analytical. The collectivist is concerned with what is the best thing for everyone else.
  • Emotional forgiveness is offered to satisfy an emotional need and is more common in individualistic people.

The separate types of forgiveness are sometimes used to explain the difference between collectivistic and individualistic approaches.

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The positive impact of forgiveness

Forgiving someone can reduce our stress levels, risk of heart disease and mental illness. It can prevent cognitive decline in later life, help you earn more money, and be happier.

Forgiveness is part of every culture, but how we choose to offer forgiveness are affected by our cultures and our personal psychologies.

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Understanding

The first step in forgiveness is to understand "why" someone acts the way they do. What are they trying to protect? What are they afraid of? What basic skills did they learn (or not learn) from their family of origin?

Understanding "why" breeds compassion and helps loosen the ties that bind us to blame.

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4 Ways To Forgive And Let Go

huffpost.com

Forgiveness
  • 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 step into your present rather than anchoring in the past.

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The Psychology of Forgiveness

psychologytoday.com

1. Know what forgiveness is and why it matters

Forgiveness is about goodness, about extending mercy to those who’ve harmed us, even if they don’t “deserve” it. Working on forgiveness can help us increase our self-esteem and give us a sense of inner strength and safety.

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Eight Keys to Forgiveness

greatergood.berkeley.edu