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How Forgiveness Benefits Individual, Family, and Community Health
Robert Enright Ph.D.
Some people will not forgive others for certain acts under any circumstances, but focusing exclusively on why that is could distort what forgiveness actually represents.
Have you "tried everything under the sun to heal" the inner wounds of anger, depression, and reduced hope? Take heart. Psychological studies show you can heal even years later.
When we break our own standards, we can engage in self-loathing. Yet, self-loathing shows that our conscience is healthy as we feel remorse and know what we did needs correction.
So often, reconstruction following war ignores the rehabilitation of the heart.
What if there was a disease that seriously compromised health, combined with a treatment that too many erroneously saw as ineffective? Resentment is that disease and forgiveness the cure.
Forgiveness education for adults and children may be the untried piece to the peace puzzle between Russia and Ukraine, if used along with Solzhenitsyn's principle of subsidiarity.
Because the social science of forgiveness is relatively new, there are disagreements and debates on the subject.
Broken Heart Syndrome, a term used in the medical community for sudden-onset and short-term disruptions of the heart, can occur because of intense emotions. Psychology can help.
People routinely fume at politicians on the "other side." Is forgiveness reasonable or even possible under such circumstances?
Modern societies seem to implicitly honor knowledge in math and science because such efforts make life more tolerable with less pain. Yet, are there greater goals than this?
When gaslighted, people can believe the lie, falsely concluding they acted badly and must forgive themselves. This must be resisted. One approach to healing may be self-acceptance.
Partners who control can severely damage the relationship. Your offering and requesting respect is a central way of changing this pattern toward a deeper mutuality.
What a shame it would be if you had a knee injury and you avoided all medical help because the healing process is itself stressful. Forgiveness is a healing process that can cure.
If you have been condemned by another, it is time to broaden that person's vision. You are more than your mistakes and failings.
Because we all use the word love, it may be too tempting to conclude that in using the word we understand what it is. I think it is more complex, richer than many people realize.
A norm within the self-help literature is that narcissism cannot be treated well. The idea of being "born that way" clashes with the challenge for the person to grow in humility.
One neuroscience perspective concludes that "forgiveness could be a trait that people are born with." Does the evidence to date show this to be true?
How forgiving are you toward those who have hurt you deeply? This scale can help you understand where you are on your forgiveness journey.
Breaking up with a partner can lead to hesitancy about to the relationship. These points of reflection can assist you in making the decision.
Without ascribing justice as a central virtue to his psychosocial stages, Erikson omitted perhaps the key variable for harmonious relations in families and in communities.
Forgiving and reconciling are different. If you falsely think your forgiving will bring back the other person, you may wait in the hope of a reconciliation that will never come.
Negative interactions with one's father can damage future relationships. But it is possible to heal.
Those who reject the idea of forgiveness may do so from a position of pain and a misunderstanding of forgiving. Yet, even if it takes years, insights can blossom.
Viewers on social media gravitate toward videos showing people getting back at others who acted unjustly. Which is psychologically healthier for us: revenge-seeking or forgiving?
Hopelessness in the short-run can be accepted, given the current challenges. There are psychological approaches, when you are ready, for countering this so that hope is restored.
When taking undergraduate psychology courses, I learned about Freud's and Skinner's theories, but we never delved into the underlying image of humanity hidden inside their views.
The rising rate of suicidal ideation and suicides among military personnel and veterans might be reduced by Forgiveness Therapy.
Genuine forgiveness levels the moral playing field in which the parties come together as equals. In false-forgiveness, a person may be using this moral virtue for self-interest.
Although forgiveness was not part of Erik Erikson's psychosocial theory, forgiveness possibly can and should be integrated into that theory for a healthy and happy life.
Betrayals are very painful. The effects of betrayals, such as deep anger, generalized mistrust of others, anxiety, and depression can be even more challenging. It is time to heal.
Robert Enright, Ph.D., is a professor of educational psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a licensed psychologist who pioneered the social scientific study of forgiveness.