The Process of Forgiveness

The nature of human beings and human relationships makes conflict or misunderstandings a common and perhaps inevitable occurrence. Many times our words, actions or opinions may be distorted either because of their content or how the receiver of the message perceives them. It is not uncommon for a person’s word to be misconstrued because of the above and other reasons, in my professional opinion I think that it is important to diffuse situations through the application of positivity and wording. One way to properly develop the skills of conflict resolution and the act of preventing conflict is through forgiveness. Forgiveness is simply defined as the act of as freeing from a  negative attachment to the source that has transgressed against a person. It can also involve the abandonment of resentment, negative judgment, or indifference towards on who has unjustly or failure caused us harm or has engaged in an act we disapprove of. Indeed forgiveness is a necessary tool in the avoidance, dissemination, and resolution of conflict.

First of all, there is a huge biblical/religious foundation for forgiveness. According to Mark 11:25  “ And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins !” In Ephesians 4: 26-27, Paul urges the Christians at Ephesus to release their anger and forgive. He writes, “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” Paul is encouraging the Ephesians to let go of their anger each day and not to give Satan an opportunity to turn their anger into unforgiveness. These verses and many others emphasize the greater benefits of forgiveness without necessarily providing any context as to how forgiveness should be exercised. In this regard, the question becomes how we practice forgiveness.

In my opinion, forgiveness has a few steps. The first step is Acknowledgment of the Hurt or Harm. In this step, the participants must appreciate that something was done against them that caused a negative result or emotion. The second step is an Identification of the Emotional Responses that occurred after the hurt or harm. This involves a definite introspection into one’s reaction and how best to correct them. The Third Step is the Cancellation of the Debt. In this stage, the participant must abandon the resentment or negative judgment towards the person who hurt them. The Fourth Step is the Setting of Boundaries where both participants agree on the bounds of their relationship to protect themselves and others from being transgressed against again. The Fifth step is the commitment to forgive where the aggrieved person commits to not using the transgression as a weapon against the aggressor or transgressor.

In conclusion, I think it is important to state that forgiveness is a personal and self-motivated idea. We all made choices we are not proud of but don’t sit in it. The Goal Is To Own It! We hinder the process of forgiveness when we fail to OWN IT and we oftentimes make the fatal mistake of involving people who have no stake in the matter. In essence, the first proper step to forgiveness is to forgive yourself and own your actions.

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