Research on the impact of forgiveness has showed a range of its positive qualities and effects including emotional, cognitive, physiological, social, and spiritual.
Influenced by such positive effects has also influenced a shift within the field of psychology to focus both on correcting identified problems and promoting growth.
Positive psychology, with a focus on positive emotions such as hope, gratitude, awe, and happiness has become the framework for forgiveness research, elaborated in professional journals, handbooks and textbooks .
Forgiveness can benefit us in at least two ways:
(1) It works against the destructive and injurious effects of stress and negative emotions.
(2) It broadens our cognitive and behavioral framework and enables the construction of new adaptive techniques
Forgiveness is being studied on three levels, on the level of the individual, the forgiver, on the level of relationship, between the forgiver and the forgiven and also the impact on society.
What is forgiveness?
In order to study forgiveness, we need to arrive at the definition of what forgiveness is and more importantly perhaps, what forgiveness is not.
Forgiveness does not mean condoning, justifying, excusing, pardoning, letting go and moving on with one’s life, forbearing, or forgetting harmful behaviour.
Forgiveness is a relinquishment of one’s resentment, not a relinquishment of one’s ethics. Forgiveness starts with a willful decision to grant forgiveness and a sincere intention not to seek revenge or avoid the offender (unless dangerous or placing individual at risk) and to release the person from personal debt as a result of offending. Such decisional forgiveness must be accompanied by emotional forgiveness in order to benefit from this action.
Emotional forgiveness is changing ones emotion and intention towards the offender and reducing negative emotions such as being angry, resentful, hateful and bitter towards the offender.
Forgiveness (by Dav Panesar)
Ref:Luskin FM, Thoresen CE, Harris A, et al. Effects of group forgiveness intervention on perceived stress, state and trait anger, self reported health, symptoms of stress and forgiveness. Alternative Therapy Health Med. 2001;7:106.