If we have done something that may have upset or offended someone or a group, we can seek to be forgiven by them.

There are two types of forgiveness.  Decisional forgiveness is a sincere decision to change the way you intend to behave towards someone if you they have wronged you, even though you may still feel negatively towards them.  Emotional forgiveness is a change in the way you feel towards this person or group, with resentment giving way to positive emotions like empathy, sympathy, compassion and even love.

Studies have found that no offence is unforgivable by someone involved with a particular injustice. Betrayal is regarded as the worst offence and people find impossible to forgive, according to studies.  Betrayal includes affairs, deceit, broken promises and divulged secrets.  Younger children find it easier to quickly forgive and move on.  Extroverts need forgiveness sooner, and are more proactive in seeking forgiveness than introverts who tend to initially be more concerned with forgiving themselves.

Carrying a grudge can weigh you down, both mentally and physically, as shown by studies including those by the Erasmus University in the Netherlands.  When reminded of a grudge, people can experience increased heart rate and blood pressure, which can adversely affect their health and wellbeing.  But Emotional Forgiveness has been linked to improved heart health and improved sleep when you make the move on from the offence.  But Decisional forgiveness has not been shown to provide these benefits.

Repeated offers of “I’m sorry” has been shown to be effective between both parties.

Studies show that there is a five step process to forgiveness.

  1.  Admit you’ve been treated unjustly.
  2. Respond with anger.
  3. Work on seeing the person who has harmed you as not being solely defined by the offence.
  4. Come to understand that the pain may not ever dissipate completely.
  5. Find meaning in your suffering, perhaps by helping others.

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