‘The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong.’ – Gandhi
It was funny, as I read the article by Chris Iliades on Forgiveness Therapy I was feeling a little smug, thinking that I’m so good at this already…. oh and then I recalled an incident with a faceless bank and my blood began to boil. OK, so perhaps there is something here for me to learn after all.
A review of studies on forgiveness as a goal in psychotherapy, or talk therapy, published in 2014 in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, examined 54 cases involving forgiveness therapy for emotional wounds.
“Our research shows that thinking about forgiveness instead of revenge is better for physical health as well as mental heath. The body responds better to forgiveness. Hope for the future increases. This can mean better relationships as well as less depression and anxiety,” said Nathaniel G. Wade, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at Iowa State University and lead author of the review.
It seems that a lot of it boils down to empathy for the person. You aren’t allowing yourself to be a doormat, you are allowing yourself to be free. I guess you then combine that with the idea of “do it once… I forgive you, do it twice I’ll forgive you and walk away”. After all, I don’t have to waste my time on someone that can’t learn and doesn’t care enough to consider my feelings.
Here are some strategies for daily practice that are mentioned in the article:
- Vent hurts and resentments with trusted person – perhaps pick a friend or family member that doesn’t have an emotional attachment with the situation and can help you to empathize rather than egg you on.
- Write it down and then build a gratifying fire and burn the person… just kidding. Burn the letter as a symbolic commitment to forgiveness
- Try and see it their way and why on earth they were being such wankers
- If continually focus on an injury, notice and say STOP! Then eat ice-cream, oh, and think of something more relaxing, constructive or inspiring.
I think the most amazing example of forgiveness I have ever witnessed, was the father of a murdered child who sought out the Grandfather of the murderer. He not only forgave the murderer, but together with the grandfather he formed a charity called TKF to prevent Youth Violence. Now that is Constructive Forgiveness!
As for that faceless big bank… they cost me time, money, sanity… can I forgive them? NO, because there is no one to forgive, they just hide incompetence behind protocols and anonymity. No one is responsible. I will write them that letter, but I won’t burn it… I’m so sending that thing off. However, since I fully expect to get some semi-personalized letter with Lawyer approved blahbla speak, I had better move on. “Nasty bank you are not forgiven…. you are forgotten :)” OK, I will forgive all those people that are inept at their job, because they are doing something I would certainly rather not do and they have been trained not to use their brains. It is not their fault.
Next step… forgiving those idiots on a mobile phones that try and knock me off my bike on a daily basis ….. bonfire here we come! Better go get some burgers, no point wasting a good fire.