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For example, if you have a co-worker who continually steals your ideas, belittles you in front of the group, or gossips about you, such ongoing negative behavior can be difficult to forgive. However, you can make a plan to address the behavior with human resources, move to another department, or switch jobs to get out of the negative situation.

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Letting go of your anger and trying to forgive will bring the benefits of forgiveness without opening you up to further abuse. Sometimes it can be difficult to forget about the past and forgive, particularly if the offending acts were ongoing or traumatic. These strategies should be helpful in your journey of letting go and releasing the stress of the past. Struggling with stress? Our guide offers expert advice on how to better manage stress levels. Get it FREE when you sign up for our newsletter. Writing about the benefits of an interpersonal transgression facilitates forgiveness.

Journal of Consulting Clinical Psychology , October, Toussaint L, Webb JR.

1. Forgiveness as a Response to Wrongdoing

Gender differences in the relationship between empathy and forgiveness. Journal of Social Psychology December, More in Stress Management. It is not about letting someone off the hook for a wrongdoing, or forgetting about the past, or forgetting about the pain. It certainly does not mean that you stick around for future maltreatment from a boss, a partner, parent, or friend.

It is about setting yourself free so that you can move forward in your own life. Joan Borysenko said in an interview, "You can forgive someone who wronged you and still call the police and testify in court. Forgiveness means giving up the suffering of the past and being willing to forge ahead with far greater potential for inner freedom. Anne Lamott famously declared, "Forgiveness is giving up all hope of having had a different past. In the physical domain, forgiveness is associated with lower heart rate and blood pressure as well as overall stress relief.

It is also associated with improving physical symptoms , reducing fatigue in some patient populations, and improving sleep quality.

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In the psychological domain, forgiveness has been shown to diminish the experience of stress and inner conflict while simultaneously restoring positive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. The problem for many of us is that sometimes we can choose to forgive another, but still in our heart of hearts, the anger or resentment lingers.

However, it is in fact possible to forgive and truly let go of past disappointments, hurts, or blatant acts of abuse. Although at times this may seem implausible, forgiveness is a teachable and learnable skill that can dramatically improve with practice over time. Harvard researcher and physician George Vaillant describes forgiveness as one of the eight positive emotions that keep us connected with our deepest selves and with others.

He considers these positive emotions to be key ingredients that bind us together in our humanity and they include love, hope, joy, compassion, faith, awe, and gratitude. Whether you have a spiritual bent or not, the research supports the notion that developing stronger positive emotions supports us in leading healthier, happier, and more connected lives. When we forgive and develop these other positive emotions we become less encumbered by the scars of the past. The question remains: How do we give up a grudge and forgive someone who has hurt, disappointed, or betrayed us?

Fred Luskin talks about the way we develop our grievance story in his book Forgive For Good. Your grievance story is the one you tell over and over to yourself, and possibly to others, about the way you were maltreated and the way you became the victimized. Integrating spirituality in to treatment: Resources for practitioners. Positive responses to benefit and harm: Bringing forgiveness and gratitude into cognitive psychotherapy.

J Cogn Psychother. Spirituality augmented cognitive behavior therapy. Australas Psychiatry. Transgression-related motivational dispositions: Personality substrates of forgiveness and their links to the Big Five. Personality Soc Psychol Bull.

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The unique effects of forgiveness on health: An exploration of pathways. J Behav Med. Forgiveness and rumination: A cross-cultural perspective comparing India and the US. Stress Health. The impact of forgiveness on cardiovascular reactivity and recovery. Int J Psychophysiol. Forgiveness, health, and well-being: A review of evidence for emotional versus decisional forgiveness, dispositional forgivingness, and reduced unforgiveness. Forgiveness Intervention in post-abortion men. J Clin Consult Psychol. Granting forgiveness or harboring grudges: Implications for emotion, physiology and health.

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Dewey L. War and redemption: Treatment and recovery in combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder. Hants England : Ashgate; Exploration of the association between apology and forgiveness amongst victims of human rights violations. Behav Sci Law. Alcohol and other drug problems among homeless veterans: A life-course theory of forgiveness. Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly. Neuroimaging of forgivability. Positive emotional change: Mediating effects of forgiveness and spirituality. J Sci Healing. How forgiveness, purpose and religiosity are related to the mental health and well-being of youth: A review of the literature.

The Power of Forgiveness

Mental Health Religion Culture. Forgiveness as an intervention goal with incest survivors. J Consult Clin Psychol. The effects of forgiveness therapy on depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress for women after spousal emotional abuse. DiBlasio FA. Decision-based forgiveness treatment in cases of marital infidelity.

Gabbard GO. Treatments of psychiatric disorders. Washington: American Psychiatric Publishing; American Psychiatric Association. Practice guidelines for the treatment of psychiatric disorders: Compendium. Arlington: American Psychiatric Association; Canadian Psychiatric Association. Clinical practice guidelines: Management of anxiety disorders. Can J Psychiatry.

Textbook of clinical psychiatry. Comprehensive textbook of psychiatry. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Williams; Introductory textbook of psychiatry. Shorter oxford textbook of psychiatry. Oxford: Oxford University Press; Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. Bhide AV. Anger and the Mahaabhaarata. Shamasundar C. Understanding empathy and related phenomena. Am J Psychotherapy.

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