Four elements of Forgiveness

Posted on May 20, 2017

As Steve Maraboli puts it, “The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.”, forgiveness is a powerful thing. Forgiving allows you to let go of the emotional baggage that is weighing you down.

Ryan Howes has conceptualised 4 main element of forgiveness and they are:

A. Expressing the emotion
To able to move on, the forgiver needs to fully express how it made her feel. If the transgression elicits anger or sadness or hurt, those feelings need to be deeply felt and expressed. It can be expressed directly to the perpetrator, or if such a confrontation is too overwhelming, a stand-in such as through a heartfelt letter or yelling in the car with the windows rolled down might suffice. It is important to expunge the feelings.

B. Understanding why
We need some schema that explains why the act took place. Our brain will continue to search for some explanation until we can find a closure.

C. Rebuilding safety
The forgiver needs to feel a reasonable amount of assurance the act will not happen again. Whether it comes in the form of a sincere apology from the perpetrator, safety needs to be re-acquired.

D. Letting go
Letting go is making a decision and a promise to not hold a grudge. If letting go feels impossible, it's probably because A, B or C weren't sufficiently completed.

Admittedly, many situations are complex and forgiveness can be difficult. But in general, forgiving means returning to a place of equality. Forgiveness brings many benefits at the physical and psychological level - such as health benefits and emotional strength. It may be a difficult process, but definitely a worthy one.


Source material from Psychology Today

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