Is it possible that the more a person forgives, then the more human that person becomes?  

If a person forgives for the other person’s benefit and because forgiveness is good in and of itself, then the forgiver is practicing forgiveness as a moral virtue.  If a person forgives with the principle of love (in service to others), then this person is practicing forgiveness on a very high level.  I do think, in these cases, that the forgiver is bringing out some of the very best that humanity has to offer.

Persistence as a Way to Grow

To grow in any virtue is similar to building muscle in the gym through persistent hard work. We surely do not want to overdo anything, including the pursuit of fitness.

Yet, we must avoid underdoing it, too, if we are to continue to grow. It is the same with forgiveness. We need to be persistently developing our forgiveness muscles as we become forgivingly fit. This opportunity is now laid out before you. What will you choose? Will you choose a life of diversion, comfort, and pleasure, or the more exciting life of risking love, challenging yourself to forgive, and helping others in their forgiveness fitness?

Enright, Robert D. (2012-07-05). The Forgiving Life (APA Lifetools) (Kindle Locations 5359-5360). American Psychological Association. Kindle Edition.

What is your opinion of family members who keep saying, “You should forgive the person for what was done”?

We have to be careful not to pressure people to forgive.  Family members who say that someone “should” forgive another have to take into account: a) how familiar the unjustly-treated person is with forgiveness; b) the depth of the injustice; c) how long ago the injustice happened; and d) how often the other person has engaged in the offense.  The less familiar, the deeper the hurt, the shorter the time, and the more often the injustice has occurred, then the more difficult it may be to forgive.  It is better if a person is drawn to the beauty of forgiveness rather than pressured into it.

A Quarter-Century of Forgiveness Research. . .

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee, WI – Upon Dr. Robert Enright’s recent return from Israel where he organized and conducted the first-ever, two-day Jerusalem Conference on Forgiveness, he was interviewed by reporter McKenna Oxenden for a lengthy article that appeared in Sunday’s Journal Sentinel. Here’s a snippet from the article:

Researching, analyzing and coaching forgiveness was considered radical; the idea was met with resistance, even anger. But Enright forged ahead, and is now considered a pioneer in the scientific study of forgiveness, which claims thousands of researchers worldwide.

Enright’s work is in the spotlight more than ever because he focuses on issues that seem to have taken center stage in our culture: bullying and gender-based violence; poverty and trauma, particularly among children; entire groups that feel marginalized or mistreated.

He’s trying to turn around the perception that forgiveness is somehow equated with weakness, and get people to see it as a virtue — an active virtue — like compassion or patience. He’s also trying to show that in the long run, it’s a better answer than: I will never forgive; I will fight and overpower.

Read the entire article: Is there a better response to injustice? Pioneering UW professor teaches forgiveness

“The Forgiveness Trailblazer” Kicks off Theology Retreat Series on August 19

Robert Enright, Ph.D. Dubbed “the forgiveness trailblazer” by Time Magazine, will lead an inspiring retreat next month titled “Forgiveness and the Journey of Healing.”
Dr. Robert Enright

Seton Hall University, South Orange, NJ; July 19, 2017, by Christine Aromando – How can forgiveness lead us to healing and transformation? Why is it important to forgive, even when we find it impossible? Some would say there is no one more qualified to speak on this topic than Robert Enright, Ph.D. Dubbed “the forgiveness trailblazer” by Time Magazine, Enright will lead an inspiring retreat next month titled “Forgiveness and the Journey of Healing.” The event will take place on Saturday, August 19, from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at St. Paul Inside the Walls Catholic Evangelization Center in Madison, New Jersey. The registration fee is $15, which includes a continental breakfast. Pre-registration is required; to register, please contact Theresa Miller at (973) 761-9575 or theresa.miller@shu.edu.
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Enright’s retreat will explore the psychology of forgiveness and the journey that one is called to take in order to achieve healing and transformation. He teaches that giving the gift of forgiveness allows healing to become possible for everyone involved, emphasizing that it is important to forgive even if we feel the person who has offended us is not worthy of that forgiveness. He also teaches that peace results from forgiving others, and this peace is necessary for our true healing and transformation.
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This retreat is the first of seven that will be held monthly through February as part of a series titled “70×7: Faith, Family and Forgiveness, Part IV,” sponsored by Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology. Since the School concluded its last series on forgiveness in December 2016, having offered nearly 30 presentations on the topic over the past few years, the School continues to receive requests for similar presentations. “There is such a hunger for forgiveness, a deep desire for reconciliation and healing,” says Associate Dean Dianne Traflet, J.D., S.T.D. “We thus are highly motivated to continue this work and offer a new series that will help those who are wounded and struggling with forgiveness to journey even deeper into the mystery and power of God’s mercy.”

Robert Enright is the cofounder of the International Forgiveness Institute and an educational psychologist at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. The pioneer of the scientific study of forgiveness, he is the author or editor of seven books and over 100 publications centered on social development and the psychology of forgiveness. His most recent book is 8 Keys to Forgiveness.

Founded in 1861, Immaculate Conception Seminary is a House of Formation for the Roman Catholic priesthood and the School of Theology of Seton Hall University. As a House of Formation, the Seminary offers men preparing for the priesthood the personal, academic, ministerial and spiritual formation essential for their conversion to Jesus Christ and for their commitment to a life of service to the Church.

As a School of Theology, the Seminary provides a theological and philosophical foundation for men and women pursuing undergraduate studies, a theological foundation and a pastoral and spiritual formation for men and women preparing for ministries among the people of God, a theological foundation for men and women desiring to pursue doctoral studies, and varied opportunities for continuing theological education.

Read More: “The Forgiveness Trailblazer” Kicks off Theology Retreat Series in August

What Is Self-Forgiveness?

When you self-forgive you are struggling to love yourself when you are not feeling lovable because of your actions.  You are offering to yourself what you offer to others who have hurt you: a sense that you have inherent worth, despite your actions, that you are more than your actions, that you can and should honor yourself as a person even if you are imperfect, and that you did wrong and need to correct that wrong done to other people
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In self-forgiveness you never (as far as I have ever seen) offend yourself alone.  You also offend others and so part of self-forgiveness is to deliberately engage in seeking forgiveness from those others and righting the wrongs (as best you can under the circumstances) that you did toward others. Thus, we have two differences between forgiving others and forgiving the self.  In the latter, you seek forgiveness from those hurt by your actions and you strive for justice toward them.
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Robert

The Therapeutic Power of Forgiveness

This article first appeared on July 6, 2017, in The Delta Discovery, a Native-owned and operated weekly publication of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta in Alaska . It was written by Lorin L. Bradbury, Ph.D. a licensed psychologist in private practice in Bethel, Alaska.


Question: I was sexually abused as a child. I don’t think I can ever forgive the man who abused me. My husband berates me because he says I don’t give him enough affection. He says I am angry. I think he’s angry. My world is falling apart. Is there any hope for me?

There is hope, and the hope is in something called forgiveness. That may sound more theological than psychological, but it is a topic of research in psychology that has been studied for more than thirty-five years by Dr. Robert Enright and the Human Development Study Group at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Results from many peer-reviewed studies indicate that Forgiveness Therapy is more efficacious than alternative therapies in addressing issues related to sexual, physical, and emotional abuse. Also, injuries and injustices that have occurred in marital relationships can be addressed through the same process, using the same model.

Before you stop reading this article and write forgiveness off as quackery, let me explain; Forgiveness Therapy is significantly more than simply saying, “I forgive you.” Forgiveness Therapy entails four phases: UncoveringDecisionWork, and Deepening. I will attempt to provide an overview of each phase, but I must caution, it is not a matter of step 1, 2, 3, 4, and then you are well. Therapy takes time, it is hard work and often painful, but worthwhile.

Instead of using the word “Abuse” as the precipitating event, I am choosing to use words like “Injury,” or “Injustice,” which may broaden the usefulness of the model. Also, for ease in reading, I am using the term client as the one in therapy who experienced an injury or injustice.

During the Uncovering Phase, the client gains insight into whether and how the injustice experienced has compromised his or her life. As a result of the trauma, the injured person may have begun to rely on unhealthy defense mechanisms to cope. During the Uncovering Phase, it is necessary to discover and examine those psychological defenses and the issues involved in the client’s current cognitive and emotional state. The goal will be to confront and release the anger, rather than harboring it.

When appropriate, the client may need to admit shame that was experienced as a result of the injustice. At some point, the client will likely become aware of his or her depleted state of emotional energy and the time spent mentally rehearsing the injustice. It is possible that because of the trauma, the client may feel the world is unsafe, and therefore, be unable to trust anyone. During this phase the client may discover that even though he or she was hurt, it doesn’t mean that everyone is untrustworthy.

Moving on to the Decision phase, the client recognizes that old strategies have not worked. During this phase, the client considers forgiveness as an option, and makes a decision to commit to forgiving on the basis of this newly acquired understanding. Again, I emphasize that this is not a matter of casually saying, “I forgive you,” and sweeping the injustice under the rug. Forgiveness becomes a conscious choice from a position of empowerment.

During the Work phase the client gains a mental understanding of the offender. In other words, the wrongdoer is viewed in context. For example, maybe the perpetrator was also a victim. This can result in a positive change in affect toward the offender, toward self, and about the relationship. Because of being able to view the event in context, it may be possible to experience empathy and compassion toward the offender. The client eventually reaches a point of accepting and bearing the pain of the offense. At that point the moral gift of forgiveness can be given to the offender. That does not mean that contact has to be made with the offender. In some instances, the offender may no longer be living, or it may not be in the best interest of anyone to make the contact. But forgiveness can be offered as a gift.

Finally, during the Deepening phase, the client discovers meaning in the suffering, feels more connected with others, experiences decreased negative affect, and may experience a renewed purpose in life. During this phase, the client comes to accept that he or she also has needed forgiveness from others in the past. The person gains insight that he or she is not the only one who has experienced similar pain or suffering. Also, there may come a realization that a new purpose in life may develop as a result of the injury. During this phase, a reduction in negative affect and an increase in positive affect toward the offender may occur. If this happens the client is likely to experience an awareness of an internal emotional release.

Unfortunately, there is not an organized Forgiveness Therapy group in Bethel. But, I would encourage anyone who has an interest in this topic to purchase one of Dr. Enright’s books on the topic. I would suggest beginning with Forgiveness Is a Choice: A Step-By-Step Process for Resolving Anger and Restoring Hope, published by the American Psychological Association, and can be purchased at most bookstores or at Amazon.com.

Lorin L. Bradbury, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Bethel, Alaska. If you have questions that you would like Dr. Bradbury to answer in the Delta Discovery, please send them to The Delta Discovery, P.O. Box 1028, Bethel, AK 99559, or e-mail them to realnews@deltadiscovery.com. You can also access the Ask Dr. Forgiveness feature on this website with your forgiveness-related questions.