I struggle with forgiving. Taking on forgiveness, a conscious act of forgiving someone, sometimes feels dangerous to me, as if I will leave myself deliberately vulnerable to another transgression by an offender. But there is strong research (the pioneers are Dr. Fred Luskin of Stanford University and Dr. Robert Enright of the University of Wisconsin-Madison) that living with forgiving intent is healthy. HOW???? Simply, forgiveness allows us to let go of anger, anxiety and other causes of harm to our bodies and minds. In turn, forgiveness helps us to become more active, more community-oriented, positive – resilient.
The researchers I cite emphasize that forgiveness isn’t a choice to condone wrongdoing, or place yourself back in harm’s way. It is deliberate: Dr. Luskin’s process involves nine steps; Dr. Enright outlines 20.
And it is invaluable to forgive yourself. For honest mistakes. For inborn characteristics for which you have been shamed. Accept yourself. Accept responsibility for your actions when necessary, but be realistic about cause and effect.
I would like to learn forgiveness. In thanksgiving.