A global perspective asks the forgiver to go beyond concrete specifics of the offending behavior and to view the person who offended in a larger context than those behaviors. For example, in taking a global perspective the forgiver is asked to see what is shared in common with the other person. They both need air to breathe; they both have bodies that need nutrition; each will die some day. The point is to help the forgiver see a common humanity between the two, not because of what the other did, but in spite of this.
Think about one time in your childhood when you had what seemed to be a serious disagreement with a friend. At the time, did it seem like this breach would last forever? Did it? How long did it take to either reconcile or to find a new friend? Time has a way of changing our circumstances. This is not to advocate a kind of passive approach to life here—such as, “Oh, I’ll just wait it out and not bother to exert any effort.” That is not the point. The point is to take a long perspective so that you can see beyond the next hill to a place that is more settled and the pain is not so great. You already saw in your childhood that conflicts end. And the consequences of those conflicts (feeling sad or angry) also end. Why should that same process of change not also apply now? Try to see your circumstance, as realistically as you can, one month from now. Try to see your circumstance six months from now. Try to see yourself two years from now. Will you be the same person? Will you respond to injustices in the exact same way as you did three months ago? Probably not. You will likely be able to meet challenges with greater strength and wisdom as you continue on the forgiveness journey.
Enright, Robert. 8 Keys to Forgiveness (8 Keys to Mental Health) . W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.
As more cities, states, and entire countries go into full lockdown to slow the spread of the coronavirus, psychologists and pandemic experts are warning that we may soon have yet another health crisis on our hands: deteriorating mental health.
“People really need to prepare for self-isolation,” says Dr. Steven Taylor, author of The Psychology of Pandemics and a clinical psychologist at the University of British Columbia. “It’s not enough to stock up on toilet paper. They need to think about what they are going to do to combat boredom.”
Fortunately, the International Forgiveness Institute (IFI) has a solution that will not only provide a diversion from shelter-in-place rules but help you, your children, and all your family members increase your emotional, physical, and mental health despite these stressful times.
LOCKDOWN LESSONS: LEARN TO FORGIVE AT HALF PRICE!
For a limited time only, the IFI is offering its individual and family Curriculum Guides at the never-before-offered price of HALF OFF – a 50% DISCOUNT from the regular price. We’ve reduced the price of all our Curriculum Guides to $15.00 from the regular price of $30.00. That’s the equivalent of purchasing one Guide and getting a second Guide for FREE.
Mix or match, you can select from our 14 grade-level Curriculum Guides (pre-kindergarten through 12th grade), our two Family-Learning Programs, and our End-of-Life Manual. These are the same tested and proven study guides now being used by parents, teachers, and homeschooling families in the US and more than 30 countries around the world.
Incorporating the latest social-emotional learning principles, these guides teach both children and adults about the five moral qualities most important to forgiving another person–inherent worth, moral love, kindness, respect and generosity. Each guide encompasses 8 or more lessons (one-half to one hour per week for each lesson) and includes Dr. Seuss and other children’s book summaries that help reinforce moral principles.
THE PERFECT SHELTER-AT-HOME FAMILY PROJECT
- IMPROVE EMOTIONAL HEALTH – by reducing anger, anxiety, depression, and/or PTSD symptoms.
- ENHANCE PHYSICAL WELL-BEING – by lowering blood pressure, reducing stress hormones, and enhancing one’s immune system.
- IMPROVE PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS – with family, friends, and community.
- BOOST SELF-ESTEEM AND SELF-IMAGE – while increasing hopefulness about the future.
We’ve slashed the price of all the IFI
Forgiveness Education Curriculum Guides by 50% for a limited time only.
Instead of the regular price of $30.00, Forgiveness Guides are now $15.00.
This offer expires on May 15, 2020.
In the book, The Forgiving Life, I talk about the good will, the free will, and the strong will. The good will allows you to see those who hurt you in all of their woundedness and to respond to them with kindness. The free will allows you to say “yes” to the forgiveness process itself. The strong will allows you to keep going even though it is difficult.
Try to be aware of the strong will. Cultivate it in other areas even apart from forgiveness. For example, stay with the challenge of an exercise program; finish the book you started; complete a home-project that you started a while back. These efforts can strengthen the strong will which can advance you toward the finish line of forgiveness. Please keep in mind that even when you reach that finish line of forgiveness, anger can resurface later. Apply the good will, the free will, and the strong will again as you revisit the forgiveness process.
For additional information, see On the Importance of Perseverance when Forgiving.
It is not unusual for a person to not let the self “off of the emotional hook” even after knowing that the other forgives. Why? It is because we tend to be harder on ourselves than we are on others. So, I recommend chapter 7 on self-forgiveness from my book, 8 Keys to Forgiveness.
For additional information, see Self-Forgiveness.
A cutting-edge organization in California that sponsors groundbreaking scientific discoveries has launched a new service called Greater Good in Action and added forgiveness to its list of practices that can help you improve your social or emotional well-being or the well-being of others including your children.
The Greater Good Science Center (GGSC) at the University of California, Berkeley, not only studies the psychology, sociology, and neuroscience of well-being but also “teaches skills that foster a happier life and a more compassionate society–the science of a meaningful life.”
The Greater Good in Action initiative adds forgiveness to its list of established practices that include compassion, generosity, gratitude, honesty and others. It is a new addition to a service the organization began in July of 2017, called Raising Caring, Courageous Kids that is designed to help parents raise kids of high character who treat others with compassion and respect.
In its inaugural forgiveness practice called Introducing Kids to Forgiveness, Greater Good in Action cites the pioneering forgiveness work of psychologist Robert Enright, Ph.D., and psychiatrist Richard Fitzgibbons, M.D. (co-authors of Forgiveness Therapy, a manual providing instructions for clinicians who want to incorporate forgiveness interventions into their therapy with clients.
Referencing Dr. Enright’s years of hands-on experience teaching children about forgiveness (he has developed 17 Forgiveness Curriculum Guides for kids in pre-school through 12th grade that are being used in more than 30 countries around the world), Greater Good in Action links readers to a separate dissertation on Dr. Enright’s insights into how to help children and adolescents learn and practice forgiveness.
That work concludes that “a wide range of studies have found that forgiveness programs can help kids of different ages feel better, strengthen their relationships, and improve their academic performance.”
Because conflict is inevitable, teaching children about forgiveness early on
may indeed be a path toward building communities
of people who prize and cultivate peace.
Maryam Abdullah, Ph.D., Parenting Program Director at Greater Good
and a developmental psychologist with expertise in parent-child relationships.
The practices provided by Greater Good in Action are for anyone who wants to improve his or her social and emotional well-being, or the well-being of others, but doesn’t necessarily have the time or money to invest in a formal program. Through its free online magazine Greater Good, the GGSC provides articles, videos, exercises, quizzes, podcasts, workshops and more for parents and families to help them foster positive attributes like forgiveness in themselves and their children.
How Forgiving Are You? When someone does you wrong, are you more likely to turn the other cheek or slash their tires? Take the Greater Good Forgiveness Quiz to find out.
Yes, my colleague, the psychiatrist Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons, has case studies of this kind in our book, Forgiveness Therapy, 2015. Not all people who show major depression or bi-polar disorder are excessively angry with other people, but Dr. Fitzgibbons does screen for this. When people with significant mental health challenges show unhealthy anger caused by unjust treatment from other people, then Forgiveness Therapy is warranted and shown to be effective in these case studies.
For additional information, see Forgiveness Research.
I think that Dr. Smedes meant this: When we forgive, often times the injustice comes from someone with whom we have been in a relationship (a family member, a business colleague, for example). The fact that we have to forgive means that there was an injustice that could strain a relationship. As we forgive, we become open to receiving that other person back into our lives. This does not mean that we will receive an apology and a new, trusting relationship (because our forgiving does not automatically mean that the other will now be fair). Yet, forgiving does make us open to this possibility of the other accepting our forgiving and thus becoming more fair. I think the key to understanding Professor Smedes’ sentence is his word “hope.” As we forgive, we are open to the other’s changing. We wait in hope for that change.
For additional information, see Why would fairness be given to someone who has been constantly unfair to me over the years?
We need to think of forgiveness as a process that is imperfect. We often start with negative feelings toward a person who has been deeply unjust to us. This can change to the indifference which you suggest. Eventually, this can transform to a small amount of compassion and even develop into a sense of agape love, or a love that is in service to the other for that person’s own sake. From the perspective of Aristotelian philosophy, there is an essence or a perfect bottom-line to what forgiveness is in its ideal state. That essence, as I explain in my book, The Forgiving Life, is agape love toward the one who was hurtful. Defining the essence of forgiving as agape love does not mean that all who forgive reach this endpoint. Yet, it is important to know the endpoint so we know the ultimate goal toward which we are striving. Knowing this ideal endpoint is important as we practice any virtue, whether it is forgiveness or justice or courage or patience, as examples.
For additional information, see The Four Phases of Forgiveness.
The prominence of forgiveness and forgiveness therapy in the field of psychology over the past few decades has been well-documented in the scientific literature. Also well documented has been the pioneering and groundbreaking forgiveness work of Dr. Robert Enright within that movement. Here are pertinent milestones: