There are hundreds of opinions on the issue of forgiveness. What is forgiveness? What does forgiveness mean? To arrive at the underlying truth, experts need to be consulted. Some organizations and individuals have spent considerable time investigating this important aspect of human nature.
Individuals are divided on the issue of forgiveness. Some believe that forgiveness is better than keeping a grudge. Others think that One can never forgive some faults due to their seriousness. To better understand this issue, it is essential to go back to the roots. When the underlying teaching is explained, Who can understand forgiveness better?
Who must tackle different aspects of forgiveness before getting a deeper appreciation of the issue? It needs to be defined according to how other disciplines view it. The issue needs to be explained well to get the different views that will assist in a deeper understanding.
A definition of forgiveness will only be complete if more than one aspect is explored. Since the act involves an individual’s physical, emotional, and spiritual elements, a working definition embracing different views will be very helpful.
- The Psychological Definition – Psychologists generally give this definition to what forgiveness is. It is a decision a person makes to release anger or vengeance toward a group or a specific person. The decision is conscious and one that is deliberate. An individual can never be forced into a decision of forgiveness. It has to be voluntary and intended to be genuine.
- The Spiritual Definition – Religious leaders believe that forgiving people of the wrong they have done to you is essential to your forgiveness before God. The doctrine follows the thought that if you do not forgive those who sinned against you, God will also not forgive you. This is stated in the Lord’s Prayer, which many religions recite during religious activities.
What does forgiveness mean to the religious leader? It is a requirement for God’s forgiveness. More than that, forgiving others for the wrong they have done to you is consistent with the teachings of many religious teachers that if God can forgive us our sins, we are not in a position to withhold forgiveness from others.
- The Other Definition – Other experts believe that One cannot forgive until the affected person overcomes the different stages after Who committed the harm. They believe they can only give forgiveness after the individual has gone through the process of being hurt to giving forgiveness. Processing the event and the offense is required before the conscious decision to forgive.
- Forgiveness is Difficult – The author Fred Luskin, considered a pioneer in the science and practice of forgiveness, says that forgiving someone is difficult. However, it is not impossible. He has helped hundreds of people from difficult ages, backgrounds, and geographical locations. One article mentions he has helped individuals from traumatic experiences in Northern Ireland to worse experiences in Sierra Leone in Africa.
Another author Jack Kornfield, a renowned teacher of Buddhist psychology and a psychologist shares the same comment. The difficulty and possibility of forgiveness are presented through stories in the lives of real people. People go through such a period of problems before releasing forgiveness.
- Forgiveness takes Time – The time element involved in forgiveness comprises stages. Some overcome one step faster than the rest and so Who can give forgiveness quickly? Others overstay in specific locations and brood for a long time before moving on to the next.
The time element gets stretched because of our propensity to say “no.” When people do not get what they want, whatever it is, the forgiveness time frame gets stuck. If someone harms another person and cannot get even, will the person forgive? Of course, the answer is “no.” The list can go on, from spouses betrayed to business partners swindled by another party.
- Forgiveness is Possible – Whatever the drawbacks, forgiveness is still possible. It is an inherent trait in humans that they can forgive, but they resist it. After the brooding and the mourning phase comes the most exciting part—the time when you can now forgive. According to psychologists, doing so allows you to move forward and accept things as they are. When this happens, you are back on your toes and can be at your best.
- Forgiveness gives Psychological Benefits – Practitioners of different branches of psychology agree that forgiveness has visible psychological benefits. When a person is angry, plotting revenge, and pondering on the issue, there is a loss of focus on the vital elements of a happy life. An individual, who does not forgive, will find it hard to be satisfied much more to move on. If forgiveness is not granted consciously and voluntarily, the emotional weight will drag the person down and make the person unproductive.
- Forgiveness gives Physical Benefits – You do not need a medical degree to compare a person weighed down with being unforgiving and someone who has granted forgiveness. Science has proven that if the human body is subjected to a lot of stress, it gives out a chemical that upsets many normal bodily functions. Ulcers, for instance, are stress related. Not extending forgiveness may give you lots of stomach ulcers, and it goes the other way. You get freed from stress when you forgive, and your body begins to function normally.
- Forgiveness gives Spiritual Benefits – If being angry gives you inner turmoil, extending forgiveness gives you inner peace. This spiritual benefit is the best thing you can have when you forgive. When things get settled and you analyze them, you are the primary beneficiary of forgiveness. You will have peace of mind, throw off any emotional weight, and drastically improve your physical condition.
The underlying truth about forgiveness brings us to what forgiveness is not, which is extremely important. Forgiveness is a mental decision, first and foremost, and it is also a decision of the will. While a moving part is involved, the decision is made inside your head.
- Forgiveness does not mean setting the offender free – Forgiving someone does not mean the person gets to be free from responsibility. Even if you forgive, the action’s consequences will be dealt with. For instance, a murderer might be ignored by the victim’s relatives. It does not mean, however, that he will not be apprehended and sent to jail.
- Forgiveness does not mean telling the offender to do it again – When you forgive, you are not giving the offender the license to do the act again. The offender will have to pay for the behavior. The forgiveness here relates more to the victim’s condition so that the person will experience inner peace.
- Forgiveness does not mean being the victim a second time – The act of forgiveness never means you want to be the victim all over again. Instead, the victim can throw aside the negative side and move on to doing what is good. It is an opportunity for the offender to do what is right.
- Forgiveness does not mean you deny what reality is – Giving out forgiveness never means you want to live in a fantasy world. On the contrary, you are living as it is. Holding a grudge or planning revenge will never work, and that is reality. Granting forgiveness works, and that is reality as well.
- Forgiveness does not depend on the action of the offender – Oftentimes, the offender will not immediately accept fault, which is normal. The action does not prohibit you from extending forgiveness. Even when the offender denies the deed, forgiveness can expose the act.
Different sectors all agree on specific issues regarding forgiveness. They all agree that it is difficult to do. They all agree that, in most cases, it can only be granted sometimes. They also agree that Who can grant forgiveness because it is part of human nature.
What is the underlying truth about forgiveness? The answer lies in what forgiveness is and what forgiveness means.
Forgiveness is a decision made consciously and personally. Even if a person may not want to forgive because of some emotional issues, it is still possible to ignore them. Psychologists and counselors believe that the emotional aspect will follow once forgiveness is released.
Forgiveness means an offended individual needs to be proactive. This means making a move to forgive. Upon closer examination, the person who forgives gets all the benefits. The bodily functions that were affected by anger and other emotions get normal. The focus on Who lost due to what happened gets restored. Most of all, the turmoil on the inside receives replaced by inner peace. It is still better to forgive than not to forgive at all.