You say that part of forgiveness is to offer compassion toward the one who offended you. The one who hurt me has passed away. How can I begin to have compassion on this person?

Compassion includes at least four elements:

1) Sympathy toward the one who hurt you.  Sympathy is an emotional reaction to another’s pain.  For example, if someone comes to you angry that he just lost his job and now is struggling financially, you have sympathy when you feel sorry for the person.  His anger and unfortunate situation leads to a different emotion in you: sadness.

2) Empathy toward the one who hurt you.  Empathy is stepping inside the other’s shoes (so to speak) and feeling the same feeling as the other.  Thus, when the other is angry, you empathize with that person when you also feel anger.

3) Behaving toward the other by supporting him or her in the time of distress.  This could include a kind word or talking about the strategy of solving the job problem, as examples.

4) Suffering along with the person.  This latter point is the deepest aspect of compassion.  It could involve helping the person financially before a new job is secured;  it could involve driving the person to a job interview.

In the case of having compassion for a deceased person, you can have sympathy and empathy (the first two elements of compassion), but you cannot engage in the other two elements because behavior with and toward the other is not possible.  Compassion need not have all four elements to count as compassion.  You can think of the hard times endured by the deceased person and react with sympathy and empathy.  Such compassion may aid your forgiveness.

Learn more by reading any of these books by Dr. Forgiveness -Dr. Robert Enright:

7 Unscrupulous Traits of People Who are Unwilling to Forgive

Montreal, Canada– A just-released study by PsychTests.com indicates that an unwillingness to forgive others is associated with some rather unscrupulous traits, including a propensity for manipulation and vindictiveness.

Collecting data from nearly 1,000 people who took their Integrity and Work Ethics Test, researchers at PsychTests discovered that those who are unwilling to forgive others exhibit an uncharacteristically high propensity for:

  • Vindictiveness
  • Schadenfreude (taking pleasure in the misery of others) 
  • Manipulation 
  • Cynical view of humanity 
  • Disdain for weakness in others
  • Disdain for gullible people
  • Sense of Entitlement 

ON THE FLIP-SIDE

People who exhibit a willingness to show mercy and to forgive, the study revealed, also possess other commendable traits, including:

Forgiveness-Responsibility-Integrity-Compassion

  • Willingness to practice discretion
  • Trustworthiness 
  • Remorsefulness 
  • Accountability
  • Altruism 

“You don’t have to forgive someone who has wronged you — that is your prerogative. But it’s important to understand that forgiveness is a release, a form of catharsis,” explains Dr. Ilona Jerabek, president and CEO of PsychTests.

“When you truly forgive someone, you are essentially giving yourself the freedom to release all the negative energy you have been holding onto — the sadness, the sense of betrayal, the anger, the bitterness, the desire for vengeance,” according to Dr. Jerabek.

“Holding on to these feelings for too long will sap your sense of joy and peace of mind,” Dr. Jerabek adds. “It’s a waste of emotional energy, and serves no purpose but to remind you of the past. The only way to let go of the pain is to learn to forgive.”


About PsychTests AIM Inc. 
Since its founding in 1996, PsychTests has become a pre-eminent provider of psychological assessment products and services to human resource personnel,  executive and life coaches, therapists and counselors, sport psychologists, and academic researchers.

Want to assess your integrity? Take the Integrity and Work Ethics Test

Want to find out how smart you are? Try this IQ test and find out where you stand! Classical IQ Test 

To learn more about psychological testing, download this free eBook: Spotting Diamonds in the Rough

To learn about Dr. Robert Enright’s 4 phases of forgiveness, visit: How to Forgive