Advertisement
Thanks Thanks:  0
Likes Likes:  0
Results 1 to 6 of 6

Thread: Forgive and let live

  1. #1

    Forgive and let live

    Forgive and Let Live
    September 20, 2004
    By Jordana Lewis and Jerry Adler

    Revenge is sweet, but letting go of anger at those who wronged you is a smart route to good health

    Newsweek, Sept. 27 issue - Of all the extraordinary events in the life of John Paul II, few can compare with the 21 minutes he spent in a white-walled cell in Rome's Rebibia prison. Just after Christmas, 1983, the pope visited Mehmet Ali Agca, the man who 30 months earlier had shot him in St. Peter's Square. He presented Agca with a silver rosary, and something else as well: his forgiveness.

    It requires a Christ-like forbearance to pardon a would-be assassin, of course. But how many of us are ready to forgive an unfaithful lover, a scheming colleague or even the jerk who cut into the line at Krispy Kreme? Persistent unforgiveness is part of human nature, but it appears to work to the detriment not just of our spiritual well-being but our physical health as well. The subject is one of the hottest fields of research in clinical psychology today, with more than 1,200 published studies, up from just 58 as recently as 1997. It even has its own foundation—A Campaign for Forgiveness Research—which sponsored a conference last year with papers on topics like Exploring Gender Differences in Forgiveness. (The largest number of papers dealt with forgiveness in marital and romantic relationships, which seem to generate an inordinate amount of interpersonal resentment.) Dr. Dean Ornish, America's all-purpose lifestyle guru, regards forgiveness as the tofu of the soul, a healthful alternative to the red meat of anger and vengeance. "In a way," Ornish says, "the most selfish thing you can do for yourself is to forgive other people."

    Research suggests that forgiveness works in at least two ways. One is by reducing the stress of the state of unforgiveness, a potent mixture of bitterness, anger, hostility, hatred, resentment and fear (of being hurt or humiliated again). These have specific physiologic consequences—such as increased blood pressure and hormonal changes—linked to cardiovascular disease, immune suppression and, possibly, impaired neurological function and memory. One study examined 20 individuals in happy relationships, matched with 20 in troubled relationships. The latter had higher baseline levels of cortisol, a hormone associated with impaired immune function—which shot up even further when they were asked to think about their relationships. "It happens down the line, but every time you feel unforgiveness, you are more likely to develop a health problem," says Everett Worthington, executive director of A Campaign for Forgiveness Research.

    The other benefit of forgiveness is more subtle; it relates to research showing that people with strong social networks—of friends, neighbors and family—tend to be healthier than loners. Someone who nurses grudges and keeps track of every slight is obviously going to shed some relationships over the course of a lifetime. Forgiveness, says Charlotte vanOyen Witvliet, a researcher at Hope College in Holland, Mich., should be incorporated into one's personality, a way of life, not merely a response to specific insults.

    In fact, forgiveness turns out to be a surprisingly complex process, according to many researchers. Worthington distinguishes what he calls "decisional forgiveness"—a commitment to reconcile with the perpetrator—from the more significant "emotional forgiveness," an internal state of acceptance. Forgiveness does not require us to forgo justice, or to make up to people we have every right to despise. Anger has its place in the panoply of human emotions, but it shouldn't become a way of life. "When I talk about forgiveness, I mean letting go, not excusing the other person or reconciling with them or condoning the behavior," says Ornish. "Just letting go of your own suffering."

    "It's a process, not a moment," says Dr. Edward M. Hallowell, a Harvard psychiatrist and the author of Dare to Forgive. Forgiveness, he emphasizes, has to be cultivated; it goes against a natural human tendency to seek revenge and the redress of injustice. For that reason, he recommends doing it with help—of friends, a therapist or through prayer. It was from his faith that John Paul drew the strength to forgive Mehmet Agca, setting (as he no doubt intended) an example for the rest of us. The message is the same whether it's couched in the language of Christian charity, clinical psychology or the wisdom of Confucius, as quoted by Hallowell: "If you devote your life to seeking revenge, first dig two graves."

  2. Advertisement
  3. #2

    Forgive and let live

    Yes, a good article...

    this shows something of what I've had to learn...

    [size=18px]
    Worthington distinguishes what he calls "decisional forgiveness"—a commitment to reconcile with the perpetrator—from the more significant "emotional forgiveness," an internal state of acceptance. Forgiveness does not require us to forgo justice, or to make up to people we have every right to despise. Anger has its place in the panoply of human emotions, but it shouldn't become a way of life. "When I talk about forgiveness, I mean letting go, not excusing the other person or reconciling with them or condoning the behavior," says Ornish. "
    [/size]

    the emotional forgiveness is what the bible would call forgiving from the heart... and I guess decisional then, logically, is from the mind, or the will, as I said the other day.
    Mind first - heart eventually follows, but as he says it can be a process...

    I think allowing ourselves to properly 'feel' the pain of something is essential to true/deep forgiveness....

    I used to excuse lightly, as I was such a people-pleaser, needing approval, scared of conflict...

    so if anyone hurt me, I might say- 'oh it's ok, don't worry,' and push it down in my subconscious [only for it to re-emerge for me to chew over another time- usually when something similar happened].

    How can we really forgive someone if we excuse them?
    It's like saying they have done nothing. Therefore there is nothing to forgive...

    I think forgiveness can only fully come if we acknowledge properly what they did, maybe feel the pain, acknowledge they were in the wrong...and then let it go....

    as the article says, it can be helpful to have some help in mediating this...
    helping us to get to that point...

    in the past when I had counselling, my counsellor used a form of Gestalt (not sure if that is the right term), using a cushion on a chair facing me to represent the person(s) who had hurt/damaged me...
    (useful if the person is no longer in your life).

    I then had to tell 'them' how things made me feel and if anger came up - so be it...

    it felt extremely silly, especially for a serious person like me...

    but I think it worked, I was able to get to the point of forgiveness- speaking it out loud helps...

    as a Christian this was done through prayer, which, yes, gives me the foundational resource.
    As I think the saying goes... to err is human, to forgive divine.

    The only thing is... for actual reconciliation (between humans), I think the one who did the wrong has to admit they have done wrong and ask for forgiveness, before we can externally offer it to them as a gift, which they then have to actively take, for it to be complete.

    Different elements of forgiveness...

  4. #3

    Forgive and let live

    Quote Originally Posted by sammy
    How can we really forgive someone if we excuse them?
    It's like saying they have done nothing. Therefore there is nothing to forgive...
    Yes. Another way I discuss this with clients is to talk about how sometimes it can help to understand why the other person did what they did but it does not excuse what they did... you still have to accept that what happened did happen and find a way to get beyond the anger. This is something you do for you, not for the other person (or indeed for any other person), so that you don't allow that other person to keep on hurting you, over and over again, in your mind.

  5. #4

    Forgive and let live

    I think forgiveness is essential to physical and mental health.

    There is one person in my life who has hurt me a lot. Somone told me that the "proof" of my forgiveness of this person would be to go back to this person, hug him, talk with him, go on like nothing ever happened and this will make me whole. Well, I just can't do it. The thought of ever seeing this person again makes me feel ill. I don't feel angry at him anymore, but I wonder if I have truly forgiven. I want to believe that I have and that for me "letting go" is really letting go of this person, but I don't know.

    Does this make any sense?

    Janet

  6. #5

    Forgive and let live

    Oh, and the someone who told me this also wants to force me to see this person. It's very stressful.

  7. #6

    Forgive and let live

    I don't think you should be forced to see this person, I frankly doubt that even Sister Theresa would be able "to go back to this person, hug him, talk with him, go on like nothing ever happened", and even if you could do that I sincerely dount that this would make you "whole" -- it's far more likely to make you ill.

    I don't think one "forgives" childhood abuse. I think perhaps you seek to understand, even if only to be able to accept that the abuse had nothing to do with you. I think also you need to be able to accept that it happened, instead of fighting the memories. None of this is about forgiveness. It's about finally moving past the abuse so that the fear and anger and guilt and shame no longer eats you up... until you can do this, the abuse continues...

Similar Threads

  1. If you only had one week to live......
    By shatteredspirit in forum General Support and Advice
    Replies: 26
    Last Post: December 19th, 2007, 11:11 AM
  2. Two Years to Live
    By Steve in forum Medical Conditions, Health, and Mental Health
    Replies: 28
    Last Post: March 5th, 2006, 07:10 PM
  3. Forgive an abuser?
    By pip in forum Surviving Abuse or Dysfunctional Families
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: December 1st, 2005, 09:58 PM
  4. Forgive and Forget -- Stress, That Is
    By David Baxter in forum Psychology, Psychiatry, and Mental Health
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: January 17th, 2005, 12:17 PM
  5. No need to live in fear
    By Wynn Wilder in forum Fears & Phobias
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: March 31st, 2004, 02:18 AM

Bookmarks

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

Disclaimer: PsychLinks is not responsible for the content of posts or comments by forum members.

Additional Forum Web Design by PsychLinks
© All rights reserved.