Sep. 23, ’11: The Psychology of Forgiveness

You have learned that it feels better to forgive.  Have you ever heard how to do it?

We read and hear much about forgiveness as an advisable goal.  As we know, it is difficult to live with grudges.

They do much more harm to us than to those who have injured us.

Yet, at some times forgiveness is easier to achieve than at other times.

For example, if I can see that I was at equally at fault, then forgiveness can be mutual.  I hurt you; you hurt me.  We are both sorry, so let’s forget it.

On the other hand, both sides may not be equivalent.  Perhaps, I do not want to hurt somebody the way that they he or she hurt me.

Other times, even if I erred in my side of the relationship, maybe the punishment I received was way out of proportion for my error.

Fortunately, we have a feature of our psychological makeup that allows us to equalize relationships that are otherwise hopelessly out of balance.

It is the power of acknowledgement.

You will notice this in yourself, and it is similarly operating in those you know.

Recognizing and affirming the details of an imbalanced event result in bringing equilibrium back into the relationship.

This is true whether one person has either hurt or even helped another.  It is the way that lopsided relationships can be righted.

When you perform kindnesses for people, which they can never repay, there remains a mutual sense of embarrassment.

You feel awkward because you do not want to be in a superior position.  Those who received the kindness feel awkward because they can never fully compensate the generosity.

Nonetheless, you will notice that their voicing what you did and what it meant  to them will take away the embarrassment, both ways

It works the same way with hurt.

When people acknowledge in detail what they did and how it affected others, and especially when they delineate their plans to assure than this does not happen again, it allows both parties to heal the breach in their relationship.

As a result, whether your are the giver or the receiver, and whether of hurt or help, the power of acknowledgment will reestablish wholeness between both of you.

Next post, in TWO weeks:  what to do when it is impossible to forgive.

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This entry was posted on Friday, September 23rd, 2011 at 2:29 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “Sep. 23, ’11: The Psychology of Forgiveness”

  1. Janet Z Brown Says:

    I treasure your articles.

  2. Dr. Rick Blum Says:

    Janet, thanks deeply for your encouragement — very helpful when I’m writing them late at night!

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