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Forgiveness Essay

2947 words - 12 pages

the topic of forgiveness
Chasity Webster
PSY 400
Martin Methodist College

Forgiveness is one of the most compassionate things that we can do for one another. The term is greatly misinterpreted and because of this it is not often given in the truest sense of the word. Forgiveness requires finding and feeling compassion and then being able to let go of anxiety, anger and yearning for revenge. Letting go of grudges and bitterness can make way for compassion, kindness and peace. In an article reviewing compassion, the authors define compassion as the feeling that arises in witnessing another’s suffering and that motivates a subsequent desire to help. The definition theorizes compassion as ...view middle of the document...

If you allow negative feelings to crowd out positive feelings, you might find yourself swallowed up by your own bitterness or sense of injustice. But if you're unforgiving, you might pay the price repeatedly by bringing anger and bitterness into every relationship and new experience. Your life might become so wrapped up in the wrong that you can't enjoy the present. You might become depressed or anxious. You might feel that your life lacks meaning or purpose, or that you're at odds with your spiritual beliefs. You might lose valuable and enriching connectedness with others. Forgiveness can lead to healthier relationships greater spiritual and psychological well-being less anxiety, stress and hostility, lower blood pressure, fewer symptoms of depression, lower risk of alcohol and substance abuse
Forgiveness, then, refers to a voluntary act, a decision, a choice made about how a person deals with the past. One possible set of choices is to seek revenge and retribution for wrongs committed against us and consequently to feel resentment and bitterness until one is vindicated, until there is a chance to retaliate or get even with the wrongdoer. This choice is based on the belief that a person is able to pass judgment on events and acts and on the belief that it is possible to measure the magnitude of an offense and that to receive an equal amount of retribution somehow balances the account. An unforgiving attitude assumes that how one feels about past events is based on an economy similar to that of money and that a person will thus feel poor and deprived if he or she has not sought an equal measure for all the wrongs committed against them. Revenge is a zero-sum game. Another set of choices is to practice an attitude of forgiveness. By deciding to absolve what are perceived as wrongs committed against one, a person is able to let go of resentment and be free from bitterness. One does not have to wait for vindication, at any moment a person can take control of how he or she chooses to feel about the past. Forgiveness is based on the understanding that one screens and creates the past through the process of judgment in the same way that one screens and creates the present through the process of perception, that a person’s judgments are subjective and unreliable. Hence, one can assume the freedom of how one wishes to deal with the past. A forgiving attitude is based on the economics of love and abundance. By choosing to forgive the past we need not feel deprived and unfulfilled, and we do not expend our energy in the process of seeking vindication (Hope 1987).
In an article written by Suzanne Freedman, she states that because forgiveness is frequently criticized and misunderstood, it is extremely important to be as clear as possible when defining what it is, what it is not, and how to go about forgiving (Freedman 2011). She goes on to say that forgiveness can only occur between two people, that it does not make sense to talk about forgiving a...

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