Choosing to forgive our offender can help them forgive themselves

cropped-shutterstock_129678842-Couple-Facing-One-Another-PRCHS.jpgWhen we extend forgiveness to the person who has wronged us, it can help them forgive themselves, argues North (1998) as the wrongdoer is able to say to themselves, “I can forgive myself now because you have forgiven me. In your eyes I am worthy, and I accept and adopt your perspective when I look at myself. If you can find it in yourself to give me this gift, then I must try to see myself as worthy of accepting it” (p. 33).

North, J. (1998). The “ideal” of forgiveness: A philosopher’s exploration. In R. D. Enright & J. North (Eds.), Exploring forgiveness. (pp. 15-34). Madison, WI US: University of Wisconsin Press.

The healing power of forgiveness has been empirically supported

cropped-country_woman_with_hat_187494.jpgForgiveness has been defined and its healing power empirically supported. We now can expect that its voice and influence will become stronger and clearer both in academic investigation and in the clinical treatment of people of all ages in the years ahead” (Fitzgibbons, 1998, p. 73).

Fitzgibbons, R. (1998). Anger and the healing power of forgiveness: A psychiatrist’s view. In R. D. Enright & J. North (Eds.), Exploring forgiveness (pp. 63-74). Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Press.

Teaching children diagnosed with ADHD to forgive may help them understand and resolve their anger without harming others

cropped-child_and_autumn_fashion_212401.jpgConsidering the fact that between 1.5 million and 2.5 million children take Ritalin in the United States for attention-deficit /hyperactivity disorder and that studies indicate that approximately 25 percent of those children will develop sociopathic personalities as adults, reasons Fitzgibbons (1998), “we need to offer these youngsters more than Ritalin and help them understand and resolve their anger without harming others. Perhaps genuine forgiveness may prevent the development of sociopathy in later years” (p. 73).

Fitzgibbons, R. (1998). Anger and the healing power of forgiveness: A psychiatrist’s view. In R. D. Enright & J. North (Eds.), Exploring forgiveness (pp. 63-74). Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Press.

Our choice to forgive can make a difference in how we interact with the person who wronged us (and others)

shutterstock_120659380_Happy_African_American_Family_Matches_119206396There are many who would have us believe that the choice to forgive is exclusively for our own benefit. Not so, argues North (1998, p. 19): “Forgiveness is not something we do for ourselves alone but something that we give or offer to another. The forgiving response is outward-looking and other-directed; it is supposed to make a difference to the wrongdoer as well as to ourselves, and it makes a difference in how we interact with the wrongdoer and with others.”

North, J. (1998). The “ideal” of forgiveness: A philosopher’s exploration. In R. D. Enright & J. North (Eds.), Exploring forgiveness. (pp. 15-34). Madison, WI US: University of Wisconsin Press.

How can the choice to forgive improve your life? Ten benefits

shutterstock_88963522_Happy_Older-White_Woman_See89020333Fitzgibbons (1998) lists a myriad of benefits that may be realized as we choose to forgive those who have injured us: (1) A decrease in our level of hostility and anger, (2) an improved ability to control our anger, (3) an increase in our feelings of love, (4) an enhanced capacity to trust others, (5) freedom from “the subtle control of individuals and events of the past” (p. 71), (6) improved sleep, (7) an ending of repetitive negative parental behavioral and emotional patterns, (8) improved academic performance, (9) improved work performance, and (10) the resolution of physical illness and other symptoms that are directly related to hostility.

Fitzgibbons, R. (1998). Anger and the healing power of forgiveness: A psychiatrist’s view. In R. D. Enright & J. North (Eds.), Exploring forgiveness (pp. 63-74). Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Press.

Choosing to forgive can help us gain control over our anger and resolve it appropriately

cropped-shutterstock_142760431-Man-with-Beer2.jpgAccording to (Fitzgibbons, 1998), one of the main reasons it is important for clinicians to help their clients learn to forgive is that so many persons lack the skills needed to deal appropriately with resentment: “Without a doubt the primary function of forgiveness is to help an individual gain control over anger and resolve it in an appropriate manner” (p. 72).

Fitzgibbons, R. (1998). Anger and the healing power of forgiveness: A psychiatrist’s view. In R. D. Enright & J. North (Eds.), Exploring forgiveness (pp. 63-74). Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Press.

When we choose to forgive, we are asserting that we were not destroyed by our offender’s wrongdoing

cropped-woman_207969-B+W-Hair-in-Face.jpgThe very act of forgiving is a powerful assertion, argues North (1998): “If I can do this, forgive him, then I can’t have been totally destroyed by his actions. I am something over and above the harm which he has done to me; otherwise I couldn’t be offering him forgiveness here and now” (p. 19).

North, J. (1998). The “ideal” of forgiveness: A philosopher’s exploration. In R. D. Enright & J. North (Eds.), Exploring forgiveness. (pp. 15-34). Madison, WI US: University of Wisconsin Press.

Surrendering your wrongs to God’ s forgiving love and cleansing may be part of the answer to your prayer for physical or emotional healing

cropped-girl_thinking.jpgHave you prayed for physical or emotional healing? It may require more than a prayer of faith, according to Allen (1958): “In considering the use of faith in healing and health, not only must we emphasize our belief and recognize the relationship between the practice of medicine and the practice of faith, but our lives must be cleansed of those things which block God’s Spirit from our lives” (p. 114). One of the things that blocks God’s Spirit, according to Allen, is our failure to surrender our wrongs to God’s forgiving love and cleansing.

Allen, C. L. (1958). All things are possible through prayer. Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell

It is impossible for love to be rekindled in a heart that is hell bent on stoking the furnace with fantasies of revenge

cropped-shutterstock_48189502-Black-Woman-Sad-Depressed-PRCHS3.jpg“Yes, It may make us feel powerful to stay angry. True, we may feel justified in our efforts to keep our offender groveling. However, if we have any hopes of healing the rift, we must realize that healthy relationships cannot possibly be built on a foundation of guilt, fear, or shame. What’s more, it is impossible for love to be rekindled in a heart that is hell bent on stoking the furnace with fantasies of revenge” (Coleman, 2013).

Coleman, S. A. (2013). The forgiveness clinic: A Christ-centered counseling approach for those who continue to suffer with unwanted anger, bitterness, or hurt associated with traumatic events of the past. Chattanooga, TN.

The choice to forgive can result in substantial clinical improvements in a significant number of psychiatric disorders

cropped-young_girl_laying_in_the_grass_206703.jpgRichard Fitzgibbons, MD, completed his training in psychiatry at the Philadelphia Child Guidance Center and the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, where he participated in research with Aaron T. Beck in cognitive therapy (Enright & Fitzgibbons, 2000). According to Fitzgibbons (1998), if a person is suffering with a significant degree of hostility and anger, no matter their age, the choice to forgive can result in pronounced clinical improvements in separation anxiety, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), oppositional defiant and disruptive behaviors, bipolar disorder, panic disorders, impulse-control disorders, factitious disorders, dissociative disorders, adjustment disorders (especially related to job loss), paraphilias, and personality disorders.

Enright, R. D., & Fitzgibbons, R. P. (2000). Helping clients forgive: An empirical guide for resolving anger and restoring hope. Washington, DC US: American Psychological Association.
Fitzgibbons, R. (1998). Anger and the healing power of forgiveness: A psychiatrist’s view. In R. D. Enright & J. North (Eds.), Exploring forgiveness (pp. 63-74). Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Press.

Copyright © 2016 Stuart A. Coleman All Rights Reserved.  WordPress Plugins