Forgiveness in Strength Psychology

Strength psychology researchers have worked to define forgiveness. Forgiveness is not forgetting or condoning the harm that has been done; instead, it is letting go of the need for revenge and releasing negative thoughts of bitterness and resentment (Sanjay, Singh, & Hooda, 2019).

An older and more passive version of forgiveness is merely letting bygones be bygones: to allow time to pass as the injury becomes less relevant to everyday life. Instead, strength psychology uses the idea of radical forgiveness, in which the injured person makes a deep commitment to releasing the past (Sanjay et al., 2019).

Radical forgiveness involves a dual notion of taking concrete steps to forgive the offender, while also surrendering to the flow of life and ascribing meaning to the suffering experienced. Compared to passive forgiveness, radical forgiveness can occur more rapidly and concretely, but it also takes more energy and guidance.

Ultimately, forgiveness in strength psychology is about freedom for the injured person. Through gaining a more balanced view of the offender and the event, the individual can let go of the weight of negative emotions and the desire to punish and avenge.

The goal is not necessarily to restore the relationship or achieve reconciliation – however, these can certainly be positive outcomes – it is instead to restore personal well-being and balance to the injured person’s life.

Is Forgiveness Important? 5 Benefits

is forgiveness importantIs forgiveness important?

It depends on who you ask and the culture in which you live.

If we take a look at the United States, it is evident by the number of people serving life sentences in prisons that forgiveness is not highly valued, at least not by the criminal justice system.

Research is increasingly showing the benefits of forgiveness, and therapeutic interventions have been developed to help individuals heal themselves through the process of forgiveness. We’ll get to that later on in this post. For now, let’s talk about five benefits of forgiveness.

1. Forgiveness reduces negative affect

Holding a grudge feels terrible. According to recent meta-analyses on the effects of forgiveness therapy, forgiveness helped to minimize aspects of negative affect such as depression, anger, hostility, stress, and distress (Akhtar & Barlow, 2018).

2. Forgiveness promotes positive affect

Forgiveness can do a lot more than make us feel less bad. It can also increase our general levels of happiness, satisfaction, and compassion (Akhtar & Barlow, 2018).

3. Forgiveness provides freedom

People who cannot or do not forgive are often trapped in a storm of negative emotions and, at the extreme, may devote their entire lives to avenging their hurt. Forgiveness can provide freedom from an endless quest for revenge.

4. Forgiveness heals individuals

When you forgive someone, it is not always necessary to tell them about it. In this way, forgiveness can be solely for the healing and empowerment of the injured person.

5. Forgiveness can heal relationships

Sometimes the person who has committed the offense is an important or irreplaceable loved one. In cases where the injured individual wants to preserve their relationship, forgiveness may be the path toward this goal.

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