Dr. Saroj Kothari
Forgiveness is a healing journey for body and soul, Many of the world religions have advocated the concept of forgiveness as a productive response to transgression. Forgiveness is a willful process in which the forgiver chooses not to retaliate but rather responds to the offender in a loving way.
The psychological literature tends to focus on the benefits of forgiveness for the forgiver and the role of forgiveness in the therapeutic and healing process. The Psychological response that is forgiveness includes the absence of negative effect, judgment, and behaviour towards the perpetrator and the presence of positive effect, judgment and behaviour.
Forgiveness is a suite of prosocial motivational changes that occur after a person has incurred a transgression. People who are inclined to forgive their transgressors tend to be more agreeable, more emotionally stable, and more spiritually or religiously inclined. When people forgive, the probabilty of restoring benevolent and harmonious interpersonal relations with their transgressors is increased.
Psychological well-being is the state of feeling healthy and happy, having satisfaction, relaxation. pleasure, and peace of mind. Psychological well-being includes majority of characteristics of the healthy person; a sense of control, realistic beliefs, spontaniety and emotional responsiveness intellectual stimulation, problem solving, creativity and sense of humor.
When people forgive a transgressor, they become less motivated by revenge and acoidance and more motivated by benevolence toward the transgressor.
The present study examined the role of forgiveness in determining psychological well-being of adults. Transgression-Related Interpesonal Motivations (TRIM-18) Inventory (McCllough, 1998) and Psychological well-Being (PWB) Scale (Ryff, 1995) were used.
The results revealed that forgiveness is a central component of psychological well-being i.e., autonomy, environmetal mastery, personal growth, positive relations with others, purpose in life, and self acceptance in positive terms.
Relating to other-whether strangers, friends, or family-inevitebly exposes people to the risk of being offended or harmed by them. Throughout history and across cultures, people have developed many strategies for responding to such transgessions.
Two classic responses are avoidance and revenge-seeking distance from the transgressor or opportunities to harm the transgressor in kind. These responses are common but can have harmful and negative consequences for individuals, relatives and perhaps society as a whole.
Psychologists have been investigating interpersonal transgressions and their aftermath for years. However, many of the world’s religions have advocated the concept of forgiveness as a productive response to such transgressions, (McCullough & Worhtington, 1999) Forgiveness is a healing journey for both the body and the soul.
The first definition for “forgive” in Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary (1983) is to give up resentment against or the desire to punish; to stop being angry with; to pardon. Studzinki (1986) defines forgiveness us a willful process in which the forgiver chooses not to retaliate but rather respond to the offender in a living way.
Forgiveness is further described in the psychological literature as a powerful therapeutic intervention and as an intellectual exercise in which the patient makes a decision to forgive (Fitzgibbons. 1986). In defining forgiveness, the psychological literature tends to focus on the benefits of forgiveness for the forgiver and the role of forgiveness in the therapeutic and healing process, Rowe (1989) emphasizes that the experience of forgiveness is spiritual or transpersonal as well as interpersonal.
Canale (1990) views forgiveness as a therapeutic agent in psychotherapy and considers the cognitive dimension of forgiveness. Subkoviak (1992) defines forgiveness from a psycholgical perspective that forgiveness involves the affective, congnitive and behavioural system, that is, how a person forgiving another feels, thinks and behaves towards him or her.
The psychological response that is forgiveness includes the absence of negative affect, judgment, and behaviour. Forgiveness is a suite of prosocial motivatonal changes that occurs after a person has incurred a transgression. People who are inclined to forgive their transgressors tend to be more agreeable, more emotionally stable, and more spirtitully or religiously inclined.
When prople forgive, the probability of restoring benevolent and harmonious interpersonal relations with their transgressors is increased.
for- give = `give-for’ = to give undeserved gifts. It is about `giving for’ someone when they are powerless to give by themselves-transforming the condition and stituation of people and organisations who have lost power or been denied it.
It means forgiveness is creative and pro-active. Forgiveness can be likened to wearing spectacles with a type of bi-focal lens. On the one hand, we can focus on the scale of the wrong that someone has done and at the same time-we also see and contribute to the loveliness, life ans wellbeing of the wrongdoers.
The act of forgiveness is something everyone can learn, though it usually takes time. Genuine forgiveness rather than mere excusing someone is the hardest action in the whole world. We are all fairly good at excusing minor annoyances, but when we are hurt unfairly and deeply by someone we love forgiveness often seems almost impossible.
Many divorces occur due to a long series of minor and major hurts that the people concerned never forgave. The bare essence of forgiveness is being willing to give up the resentment and the desire to punish, and to give up the anger that you feel towards a person or an act.
Forgiveness is not merely a soft attitude toward a harsh act; forgiveness is the vital action of love, seeking to restore the harmony that has been shattered. Forgiveness means that we are not going to allow the experiences of the past to dominate our future.
a. Remembering in detail what happened and how it made you feel
b. Understanding the other person
c. Identifying the reasons that prevent you from being forgiving.
d. Choosing to accept the responsibility for your life and choosing to detech yourself from your expectations and the reasons that keep you from being forgiving
e. Creating the act of release as a ritual of letting go and forgiving for example, shaking hands, hugging, burning lists of what the others person did wrong.
Clinical psychology has focused primarily on the diagnosis and treatment of mental disease, and only recently has scientific attention turned to understanding and cultivating positive mental health. Quality life has been used interchangeably with such terms as well-being, psychological well- being, happiness, life-satisfaction, positive and negative effect, and the good life (Cheng, 1988, Evans, 1994, George, 1992).
Well-being is not just about the lack of disease or illness or the absence or anxiety or depression. Well-being is a state of complete physical, mental and social health. In 1958 the public health specialist Dr. Halbery L Dunn wrote about `high level’ wellness. He recognised that this would only be avhieved if we could stop being bosessed with disease, cure and prevention and move towards `positive health’.
Psychological well-being is the state of feeling healthy and happy, having satisfaction, relaxation, pleasure, and peace of mind. psychological well-being deal with people’s fellings about everday experiences in usual activities.
Such feelings may range from negative mental states or psychological strains such as anxiety, depression, frustration, emotional exhaustion, unhappiness, dissatisfaction to a state which has been identified as positive mental health. (Jahoda 1958 Warr, 1978). Well-being or wellness is often referred to as “whole-ness of body, mind and spirit in terms of health, prosperity and self-actualization” (Maslow, 1968).
According to Fromm (1976) well bing is only possible to the degree to which one is open, responsive, sensitive, awake and empty. According to Witmer and Sweeney (1992) psychological well-being includes majority of characteristics of the healthy person; a sense of control, realistic beliefs, spontaniety and emotional responsiveness, intellectual stimulation, problem solving, creativity and sense of humor.
As Nahpal and Sell (1985) observe all indicators of psychological well-being have objective and subjective componetnts. The objective components relate to concerns that are generally known by the term standards of living. However, individual satisfaction of happiness with objective reality depends not only on the access to goods and services that are available to the community but also on his expectations and perceived reality.
It is this subjective component which links the concept of life to subjective well-being, Every one yearns to lead a good life and even desires for a life that is peaceful, happy and meaningful. Clinebell (1995) has noted that the aim of life is to be fully born, though its tragedy is that most of us die before we are thus born.
Forgiveness is prosocial changes in people’s transgression related interpersonal motivation toward a transgressor. When people forgive a transgressor, they become less motivated by revenge and avoidance and more motivated by benevolence toward the transgressor (McCullough et al., 1998; McCullugh, Worhtington & Rachal, 1997).
Forgiveness has been associated with interpersonal relationships between the forgiver and the transgressor (McCullough et. al, 1998) Forgiveness is positively associated with psychological well-being, because forgiveness helps people maintain and restore close relationships (Brown, 2003; Freedman & Enright, 1996) An unforgiving attitude is destructive to personal relationships, especially marital relationships which are destroyed not so much by what has been done but by what hasn’t been done i.e., forgiving one another.
Genuine forgiveness, is the hardest action in the whole world. We are all fairly good at excusing minor annoyances, but when we are hurt unfairly and deeply by someone we love. forgiveness often seems almost impossible. Al-Mabuk, Enright, & Cardis, 1995; Coyle & Enright (1997) Forgiving might also involve reductions in hostility. McCullough (1998) found that people who were more forgiving of people who had recently transgressed against them had higher levels of satisfaction with life. Many religious and value systems assume that forgiveness is a source of human strength yielding interpersonal, mental or physical benefits.
Participants : Participants were 100 adults.
Procedure : Participants were given to read brief description of the study. If a participant chose to participate,
”’Transgression-Related Inferpersonal Motivations (TRIM) Inventory”’
In the present study we used the TRIM-18 Inventory (McCullough, 1998). The TRIM is self-report instrument that assesses the motivations assumed to underlie forgiving :
The seven item aboidance subscale measures motivation to avoid a transgressor, the five item revenge subscale measress motivation to seek revenge, and a six item suoscale for measuring benevolence motivation.
Items are rated on 5-point Likert type scale (I=strongley disagree to 5 = strongly agree).
Carol Ryff conceptualized psychological well-being as consisting of 6 dimensions-autonomy, environmental mastery, personal growth, positive relations with others, purpose in life and self-acceptance. 42 Items are rated on a 6 point likert scale. Higher scores on each sub-scale indicate greater well-being on that dimension.
Means, standard deviations, and C. R. test appear in Table-1
”’Mean Differences on the Measures of Psychological Well-Being between Forgivers”’
|Dimensions of Psychological||Low||Forgiveness||High||Forgiveness||C.R|
|2. Environmental Mastery||105.71||6.41||119.92||8.12||9.72**|
|3. Personal Growth||117.18||5.17||123.26||7.03||4.93**|
|4. Positive Relations with others||125.79||6.25||162.30||9.45||22.79**|
|5. Purpose in Life||115.24||6.23||148.61||7.54||23.99**|
|6. Self Acceptance||81.20||5.26||90.54||6.34||8.00**|
The main objective of the person research was to investigate the role of forgiveness in psychological well-being of adults Table 1 indicates that forgiveness is positively associated with psychological well-being. The findings indicate that the high scorer in forgiveness is self determining and independent, able to resist social pressures, to think and act in certain ways, regulates behaviour from within, evaluates self by personal standards.
High scorer has a sense of mastery and competence in manging the environment, controls complex array of external activities, makes effective use of surrounding opportunities is able to choose or create contexts suitable to personal needs and values. Forgiver enjoys a feeling of sustained development, sees self as growing and expanding, is open to new experiences, has sense of realising his or her potential, sees improvement in self and behaviour over time, is changing in ways that reflect more self knowledge and effectiveness.
High scorer has warm, satisfying, trusting relationships with others, is concerned about the welfare of others, is capable of strong empathy, affection and intimacy, understands give and take of human relationships. High scorer has goals in life and a sense of directedness, feels there is meaning to present and past life, helds beliefs that give life purpose, has aims and objectives for living. The high scorer possesses a positive attitude towards the self, acknowledges and accepts multiple aspects of self, including good and bad qualities, feels positive about past life.
Table shows that the significant difference among all the measures of psychological well-being i.e.
|Positive relations with others||(22.79**)|
|purpose in life||(23.99**)|
in low forgivers and high forgivers. Results clearly indicate that forgiveness is the central component of psychological well-being and that it affects all the dimensions of psychological well-being.
The Stanford Forgiveness Project are a series of research project that investigate the effectiveness of a specific forgiveness methodology. In each study people who had an unresolved hurt were taught to forgive in a group format through lecture, guided imagery, cognitive disputation and discussion.
Results showed after forgiveness training decrease in feelings of hurt, reduction in long term experience of anger, reduction in physical symptoms of stress, decrease in emotional experience of stress, decrease in depression, increase in optimism, increase in physical vitality and increase in forgiveness towards person that hurt them was significantly noted.
1. Forgiveness is a healing journey for both the body and the soul.
2. Forgiveness is the great transformer of human relationships-personal, social, institutional or economic. And because it is so central to improved relationships, we need to seek it and approach it with awareness that it leeds to the richness of all relationships.
3. Reduces anger, stress, feelings of hurt, emotional experience of stress and depression.
4. Willingness to forgive is associated with a lower blood pressure, a lower heart rate and a reduced workload for the heart muscle.
5. Forgiveness is powerful therapeutic intervention and as an intellectual exercise in which the patient makes a decision to forgive.
6. The psychological response that is forgiveness includes the presence of positive affect, judgment and behaviour.
7. People who are inclined to forgive theier transgressors tend to be more aggreable, more emotionally stable, and more spiritually or religioulsy inclined.
8. When people forgive, the probability restoring benevolent and harmonious interpersonal relations with their transgressors is increased.
9. People who were more forgiving of people who had recently transgressed against them had higher levels of satisfaction with life.
10. Many religious and velue systems assume that forgiveness is a source of human strength, yielding interpersonal, mental or physical benefirs.
11. Forgiveness invlolves re-establishment of positive motivations toward transgressors. When someone hurts you and refuses to apologize, and even if this means that the relationship cannot be repaired, you can still offer forgiveness for the sake of your own mental health.
1.Al-Mabuk, R. H. Enright, R. D., & Cardis, P.A. (1995) Forgiveness education with parentally love-deprived late adolescents. Journal of moral education, 24, 427-444.
2.Brown, R. P. (2003) Measuring individual differences in the tendency to forgive : construst validity and links with depression, personality and social psychology Bulletin, 29, 759-771.
3.Canale (1990) Defining forgiveness adapted from the book leaving Yesterday Behind by Bill Hines.
4.Cheng (1988), Evans (1994), George (1992) Health promotion, wllness programs, quality of life and the marketing of psychology, canadian Psychology, Feb. 1997 by Evans, David R.
5.Clinebell, H. (1995) well-being a personal plan for exploring and enriching the seven dimensions of life, Peoples well-being center, Inc. University of Philippines, Quezon City, Phillopines.
6.Coyle, C. T. & Enright, R. D. (1997) Forgiveness intervention with post-abortion men. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 65 (6), 1042-1046.
7.Fitzgibbons, (1986) Defining forgiveness adapted from the book Leaving yesterday Behind by Bill Hines.
8.Freedman, S. R. & Enright, R. D.(1996) Forgiveness as an intervention goal with incest survivors. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology. 64, 510-517.
9.Fromm, E. (1976) to have or to be, New York : Harper & Row.
10.Jahoda, M. (1958) Current concepts of positive mental health, New York, Basic Books.
11.Lusking, Fred (2006) Stanford Forgiveness Projects.
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13.McCullough, M.E. (1998) Transgression Related Interpersonal Motivation Inventory (TRM18)Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 2006, vol. 74, No. 5,887-897.
14.Mccullough, M.E., Rachal, K. C. Sandage, S. J. Worthington, E.I. Brown, S.W., & Height. T.L. (1998) Interpersonal forgiving in close relationships. II : Theoretical elaboration and mesurement. Journal of personality and social psychology, 75, 1856-1603.
15.McCullough, M.E. Worthingtom, E.L. (1999) Religion and the forgiving personality, Journal of personality, 67, 1141-1164.
16.McCullough M.E. Worthingtom, E. L., & Rachal, K. C. (1997) Interpersonal forgiving in close relationships. Journal of personality and social psychology, 73, 321-336.
17.Nagpal, R. and Sell, H. (1985) Subjective well-being, New Delhi : World Health Organization.
18.Rowe Halling, Davies Leifer, Prwers & Van Bronkhorst (1989) Defining forgiveness adapted from the book Leaving Yesterday Behind by Bill Hines.
19.Ryff, C. D. (1995) Psychological well-being in adult life. Current directions in psychological science, 4,99-104.
20.Studzinski (1986) Defining forgiveness adapted from the book Leaving Yesterday Behind by Bill Hines.
21.Subkoviak, Enrignt (1992) Defining forgiveness adapted from the book Leaving Yesterday Behind by Bill Hines.
22.Warr, P. B. (1978) A Study of psychological well-being, British Journal of Psychology, 69, 111-121.
23.Webster’s new universal unabridged dictionary (1983) New York : Dorst and Baker.
24.Witmer, M. & Sweeney (1992) a holistic model of wellness and prevention over the life span. Journal of counselling and Development, 71, 140-148.
”’Arhat Vachan-July to December 2010”’