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If a co-worker once stole an idea, say, and you’ve been denying him or her credit on other projects ever since, it’s time to change your tactic.The negativity and anger you cling to won’t do you any good in the long run, Enright says.But the difficult work is worth it: Decades of research from the field of positive psychology has found forgiveness can improve depression, anxiety and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
And you could think that unless the person does something to really forgiveness, you’d be a fool to forgive.
Forgiveness, it seems, is at least partly a matter of desert. Even if you think forgiveness is all about what’s best for the forgiver and not at all about the forgiven, you can still think that there are times when one shouldn’t forgive -- without assuming the wrong-doer can ever deserve forgiveness. I suppose if you stick to your guns, you can still allow that you should forgive in that situation.
Even on this approach forgiveness would sometimes be totally self-defeating and would do nothing, in the long run, for one’s own mental health. Imagine a person who is fully repentant for a wrong done. They’ve done everything possible to make up for their transgression. But you’re going to insist that you don’t forgive for the sake of the offender or even in response to the reformed moral qualities of the offender.
Forgiving a foreseeably repeat offender is a case in point. You’ll insist that forgiveness isn’t about making the wrong-doer whole, but about making the victim whole.
Do you look for love and validation in unhealthy ways?
You must make the conscious decision to forgive your injurers, as Enright calls them, and give up any vengeful behaviors on your part.
This week’s episode is about “Forgetting and Forgiving.” Frankly, though, the ‘forgetting’ part is sort of throw-away. One could, I suppose, think that there are times and situations when forgiveness just isn’t called for.
If we let go of our anger and resentment, we experience healing and reconciliation.
It seems to me that if you can’t bring yourself to forgive somebody who is fully and sincerely repentant, there’s something wrong with you. He will dig in his heels here and insist that while being unable to forgive might be some kind of psychological failing, it’s not a moral failing. And they are trying to lead me to the point of forgiving him too. Won’t they try to get me to see the error of my ways, to see the perpetrator in a new light?
But is that enough to show that forgiveness is sometimes the morally right thing, the morally required thing? He will grant that getting to the point of forgiveness can be really hard, even when you think it would be a good thing to do. But if there is an error of my ways that everybody sees except me, doesn't that show that maybe I've missed something of moral significance?