Forgiveness is the renunciation or cessation of resentment, indignation or anger as a result of a perceived offense, disagreement, or mistake, or ceasing to demand punishment or restitution. The Oxford English Dictionary defines forgiveness as 'to grant free pardon and to give up all claim on account of an offense or debt'.
In this phase the forgiving individual begins to realize that he/she is gaining emotional relief from the process of forgiving his/her injurer. The forgiving individual may find meaning in the suffering that he/she has faced.
During this phase the individual becomes aware of the emotional pain that has resulted from a deep, unjust injury. Characteristic feelings of anger or even hatred may be present.
The Forgiveness Project is a UK based charity that uses storytelling to explore how ideas around forgiveness, reconciliation and conflict resolution can be used to impact positively on people’s lives, through the personal testimonies of both victims and perpetrators of crime and violence.
Above all, forgiveness must be a choice because to expect someone to forgive can victimize them all over again. Forgiveness is also a journey and not a destination: in other words it is rarely a one-off, fixed event or a single magnanimous gesture in response to an isolated offence.
The concept of forgiveness no longer falls solely under the umbrella of religious thought. Social scientists are beginning to recognize the powerful practical and therapeutic benefits that forgiveness offers in a broken and isolated world.
And if you look at the brain of somebody who has just been harmed by someone, right, they've been ridiculed or harassed or insulted — we can put those people into technology that allows us to see what their brains are doing, right? So we can look at sort of what your brain looks like on revenge. It looks exactly like the brain of somebody who is thirsty and is just about to get a sweet drink to drink or somebody who's hungry who's about to get a piece of chocolate to eat.
Researchers have been able to demonstrate how holding a grudge affects our cardiovascular and nervous systems. They did this by asking people to think about a wrong they experienced and measuring their heart rates, blood pressure, and muscle tension. All increased. The participants also said they felt less in control.
There are three typical responses to being wronged: reciprocating with equal harm, avoiding the person, or seeking revenge. Forgiveness, on the other hand, is a conscious decision to offer generosity and mercy that a person’s actions do not deserve. And, paradoxically, by forgiving another, we benefit ourselves.
Remember this: The first person to get the benefits of forgiving is the person who does the forgiving. It’s so important that I want to say that again: The first person who benefits from the forgiving is the person who does the forgiving. Forgiving is, first of all, a way of helping yourself to get free of the unfair pain somebody caused you.
Forgiveness is a process. Our research group discovered that simply saying "I forgive you" is usually not enough.
Although the words are said, the angry feelings often return. People need to go through a process to understand their feelings. They also need to take a concrete action.