I forgive you, knowing that because of my mistakes, I am a stronger, braver, wiser guardian of my life. And I remind you that you deserve forgiveness, you are still loved and lovable. You are sacred, significant, and divine. Details coming soon. I guide women to prioritize their dreams and desires without guilt, apology or sacrifice. My Letter of Forgiveness. Dear One, I write this letter with the intention of releasing the heavy emotions on my heart and in my body.
My Letter of Forgiveness
I forgive you for not knowing, doing, or choosing better. And so it is. Love, Regena P. They have us be weak, put-upon, wronged; and the transgressor be powerful and dominating. Stress — biological as much as psychological — is triggered whenever we feel weak or in danger. As soon as we forgive, we stop being victims and start owning our own experience of life. Studies also show that forgiving people helps us release the pain memories that are stored within when we have been scared or hurt.
If we want emotional freedom, which translates to creative freedom, we have to be able to release any pain memories which lock us in place; and drive us to repeat self-sabotaging habits and stories i. As we forgive, we make it easier on ourselves to heal. If we harbour resentment and grudges, we are the ones who suffer.
Being a victim takes so much energy it can make us sick. Studies show hostility is a risk-factor for heart disease. The more we resent people for what they did, the more stress we put ourselves under, because the gap between what we want, and what we think we have, widens. Forgiving our loved ones keeps our stress in normal levels, avoiding the killer hormone cortisol.
That is a one-way ticket to relationship hell; and our relationships are one of the key drivers of our flourishing. My process, explained within my book Switch On, is focused on how to break through anything that is blocking us, including resentment or hurt feelings.
Neuroscience suggests that forgiveness lives more in the heart the emotions than the head. It is an emotional thing, deep in the limbic cortex. That means forgiveness is something we have to feel rather than think. Many people start off knowing that forgiveness is rationally the right thing to do; but their emotional pain prevents them from being able to do it.
It is very hard to show compassion towards other people until we have first forgiven ourselves for our own foibles. They are defensive patterns we invented or mimicked at some point in our lives to protect us from pain. So when people are using their defensive patterns, which then triggers our own pain and our own defences, they are simply being human: Fragile; wounded; trying to survive.
This is why we have to forgive ourselves. When we do, we can never be so hard on ourselves, or anyone else, again. Crucially, we are not our defensive patterns; we have just become them. The same is true for others, the people who we believe have hurt us. But we can train ourselves to see people as they really are, in their essence; before stress and fear triggered them to become someone else. When we asked them about whether they could ever forgive for the Holocaust, a common answer would omit any references to forgiving per se and would instead focus on forgetting: "We must never forget about the Holocaust.
We can never say it was not so bad what happened to us.
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Two of the best known forgiveness researchers, Michael McCullough and Everett Worthington, are always careful to distinguish forgiveness from pardoning an offense, or forgetting about it, or opening yourself up to further abuse. In a paper in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, McCullough, Worthington, and Kenneth Rachal defined forgiveness primarily in terms of changes in motivation. They wrote, "We define interpersonal forgiving as the set of motivational changes whereby one becomes a decreasingly motivated to retaliate against an offending relationship partner, b decreasingly motivated to maintain estrangement from the offender, and c increasingly motivated by conciliation and goodwill for the offender, despite the offender's hurtful actions.
Some people object to forgiveness, citing the need for justice after a wrong has been committed. Other people say you can still forgive people even if you punish them for what they did. I remember listening to the news coverage while Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber, was being executed. A reporter asked victims' family members how they felt about McVeigh's execution. Some said that while they thought is was important to forgive McVeigh for what he did, they still thought that he should be put to death.
But many people, I suspect, wrestle with the relationship between forgiveness and punishment. If you are thinking about becoming a forgiveness researcher, you might be intimidated to learn how many different ways there are to measure forgiveness. There seem to be as many forgiveness scales as there are forgiveness researchers. I have picked two scales to discuss because these scales have been well-validated.
Both of them focus on interpersonal forgiveness. This questionnaire asks you to imagine yourself in five different situations where someone harms you, and to rate in each case how likely you would be to forgive the person. Your pattern of forgiveness across the five situations probably gives some important clues about your general willingness to forgive other people, or your dispositional forgiveness. Berry and his collaborators presented some good evidence that their scale measures people's general tendencies to forgive. Across the various studies that they did to develop and validate this scale, published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin , the evidence suggested that people who were disinclined to forgive were more likely to be prone to anger, anxiety, and other negative emotions.
Furthermore, there seemed to be a small, positive relationship between willingness to forgive in these situations and the personality trait of agreeableness. Agreeable people are more good-natured, so this may suggest that forgiving people are also likely to be high in empathy, compassion, and trust. Initial work on the scale was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. This scale, like the TNTF, focuses on forgiveness in relationships between people. However, the TRIM asks participants to remember a specific offense in which someone harmed them.
And, unlike the TNTF, which simply asks people's likelihood of forgiving, the TRIM asks people several questions about their motives for revenge and for avoiding the perpetrator. The authors explained, "When an offended relationship partner reports that he or she has not forgiven a close relationship partner for a hurtful action, the offended partner's perception of the offense is stimulating relationship-destructive levels of the two motivational states; that is, a high motivation to avoid contact with the offending partner and b high motivation to seek revenge or see harm come to the offending partner.
One of the ways these investigators validated the TRIM scale was to examine how the scale predicts qualities of people's relationships.
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It is likely that tendencies to forgive have important implications for personal relationships, and their study supported this. People's revenge and avoidance motivations TRIM scores were predictive of their relationship satisfaction.
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People who tended to forgive reported greater relationship quality, and also greater commitment to relationships. The authors summarized that "these findings gave some encouraging support for our conceptualization of forgiving as a motivational transformation that occurs more readily in satisfactory, committed relationships.
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Work on the TRIM scale suggests that being more forgiving is associated with greater relationship satisfaction. Is forgiveness associated with better physical health as well? It seems possible that a lack of forgiveness--a tendency to maintain anger and resentment, to ruminate--could have damaging effects on physical health: and this is just what Charlotte vanOyen Witvliet and her colleagues at Hope College in Michigan have shown. Writing in Psychological Science , these investigators reported a study on the physiological effects of forgiveness versus holding a grudge.
Witvliet and her co-investigators theorized that forgiveness "may free the wounded person from a prison of hurt and vengeful emotion, yielding both emotional and physical benefits, including reduced stress, less negative emotion, fewer cardiovascular problems, and improved immune system performance. Unforgiving memories and mental imagery might produce negative facial expressions and increased cardiovascular and sympathetic reactivity, much as other negative and arousing emotions e. To test this important hypothesis, these researchers had 70 Hope College undergraduates remember a time in which they were hurt or mistreated by someone else.
Over the course of the study, the participant rehearsed either forgiving that person or being unforgiving. Participants were told that being forgiving consisted of empathizing with the offender, and being forgiving involved letting go of negative emotions toward the offender and cultivating conciliatory ones.
Being unforgiving consisted of rehearsing the hurt and holding a grudge. Participants were encouraged to focus on the thoughts, feelings, and physical responses that would accompany each response. During the study, the participants remembered offenses that included rejections, lies, and insults from their friends, romantic partners, and family members.
During the two-hour study, participants' psychophysiological responses, emotional responses, and facial expressions were recorded. The results powerfully showed that forgiveness was associated with a healthier profile of emotional and physiological reactions, compared to unforgiveness. During the unforgiveness periods, participants reported feeling more negative, aroused, angry and sad, and less in control. In contrast, when asked to try to be forgiving, participants reported feeling more empathy and did report feeling more forgiveness. Physiological measurements showed that during unforgiveness, participants showed greater corrugator EMG activity, which is a measure of tension in the brow area of the face - perhaps indicative of negative emotions.
Skin conductance levels were lower in the forgiveness periods, indicating less sympathetic nervous system arousal.