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Joseph G Langen

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Blogs by Joseph G Langen

Chats with Calliope
6/5/2010 11:36:25 AM
Sliding Otter News


The Gentle Art of Forgiveness


~To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover the prisoner was you~

Lewis B Smedes

The goal of forgiveness may be considered from the point of view of the offender, the offended or the relationship between the two. The offender may be relieved of the offended’s wish for retribution. The offended may let go of a wish to retaliate. Ways may be sought to normalize the relationship between the two, which forms one aspect of restorative justice.

Do you wonder just what forgiveness means? I did. The best definition I could find was one put forward by the American Psychological Association, “Forgiveness is a process (or the result of a process) that involves a change in emotion and attitude regarding an offender, resulting in decreased motivation to retaliate or maintain estrangement from an offender despite their action and requires letting go of negative emotions toward the offender.”

The definition seems clear to me but difficult to accomplish. The great majority of us react to being wronged with feelings of anger, blame and a wish for the offender to be punished. Eventually many of us let go of these feelings although others allow themselves to be consumed by them indefinitely. Our anger might continue long after any legal process on our behalf is completed. In this case it is we who suffer rather than the person who harmed us initially. We become prisoners of our own feelings.

While forgiveness may involve a more normalized relationship between offender and offended, it does not require condoning what was done, excusing it, pardoning it or trying to forget about what happened. While forgiveness releases us to go on with our lives, the rest of these actions place us at greater risk of being taken advantage of again.

So why should we forgive those who have offended us? What do we have to gain? Positive changes in our feelings lead to our healing by releasing us of the stress of being burdened by negative emotions. Improved physical and mental health usually follow after releasing ourselves from the chains of a quest for revenge. A sense of control in our lives often returns when we no longer dwell on our misfortune.

If we choose the forgiveness option, what of the offender being held accountable? We live in a society where most offenses have legal sanctions. Even primitive civilizations have societal ways to deal with transgressions.

What if we are harmed in ways for which no legal redress exists? One approach is to be sure the offenders know how we feel about what they did. In discussing what happened we might find the offender meant us no harm and that we bear a grudge for no good reason. We might also find that the offender will take responsibility for his or her actions.

Life Lab Lessons

* Recognize when you feel offended and why
* Realize that the choice of how long to dwell on the offense is yours.
* Do what you can to right the wrong and then let it go.
* Find ways to protect yourself from further harm.
* If you can’t let it go, write about it and store what you wrote.



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More Blogs by Joseph G Langen
• Chats with Calliope: Sliding Otter News - Saturday, October 23, 2010
• Chats with Calliope - Tuesday, October 19, 2010
• Chats with Calliope - Saturday, October 02, 2010
• Chats with Calliope - Sunday, September 12, 2010
• Chats with Calliopd - Monday, August 30, 2010
• Chats with Calliope - Monday, August 16, 2010
• Chats with Calliope - Friday, August 06, 2010
• Chats with Calliope- Releasing My Friend John - Monday, July 26, 2010
• Chats with Calliope - Monday, July 19, 2010
• Chats with Calliope - Saturday, July 10, 2010
• Chats with Calliope - Tuesday, July 06, 2010
• Chats with Calliope - Thursday, June 24, 2010
• Chats with Calliope - Saturday, June 19, 2010
• Chats with Calliope - Friday, June 18, 2010
•  Chats with Calliope - Saturday, June 05, 2010  
• Chats with Calliope - Friday, May 28, 2010
• Chats with Calliope - Monday, May 24, 2010
• Sliding Otter News - Saturday, May 22, 2010
• Chats with Calliope - Friday, May 14, 2010
• Sliding Otter News - Saturday, May 08, 2010
• Chats with Calliope - Friday, April 30, 2010
• Chats with Calliope - Monday, April 26, 2010
• Sliding Otter News - Saturday, April 24, 2010
• Chats with Calliope - Monday, April 12, 2010
• Sliding Otter News - Saturday, April 10, 2010
• Chats with Calliope - Friday, April 09, 2010
• Conversations with Calliope - Tuesday, April 06, 2010
• Conversations with Calliope - Saturday, April 03, 2010
• Conversations with Calliope - Monday, March 29, 2010
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• Conversations with Calliope- - Wednesday, January 13, 2010
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• Conversations with Calliope- - Friday, May 08, 2009
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• Conversations with Calliope - Wednesday, May 06, 2009
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• Conversations with Calliope - Monday, May 04, 2009
• Conversations with Calliope - Saturday, May 02, 2009
• Conversations with Calliope - Friday, May 01, 2009
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• Conversations with Calliope - Wednesday, April 29, 2009
• Conversations with Calliope - Friday, April 24, 2009
• Conversations with Calliope - Wednesday, April 22, 2009
• Conversations with Calliope - Tuesday, April 21, 2009
• Conversations with Calliope - Friday, April 17, 2009
• Conversations with Calliope - Thursday, April 16, 2009
• Conversations with Calliope - Wednesday, April 15, 2009
• Conversations with Calliope - Tuesday, April 14, 2009
• Conversations with Calliope - Monday, April 13, 2009
• Conversations with Calliope - Saturday, April 11, 2009
• Conversations with Calliope - Thursday, April 09, 2009
• Conversations with Calliope - Wednesday, April 08, 2009
• Conversations with Calliope - Tuesday, April 07, 2009
• Conversations with Calliope - Monday, April 06, 2009
• Conversations with Calliope - Friday, April 03, 2009
• Conversations with Calliope - Thursday, April 02, 2009
• Conversations with Calliope - Wednesday, April 01, 2009
• Conversations with Calliope - Tuesday, March 31, 2009
• Conversations with Calliope - Monday, March 30, 2009
• Conversations with Calliope - Saturday, March 28, 2009
• Conversations with Calliope - Friday, March 27, 2009
• Conversations with Calliope - Thursday, March 26, 2009
• Conversations with Calliope - Wednesday, March 25, 2009
• Conversations with Calliope - Tuesday, March 24, 2009
• Conversations with Calliope - Monday, March 23, 2009
• Conversations with Calliope - Saturday, March 21, 2009
• Conversations with Calliope - Friday, March 20, 2009
• Conversations with Calliope - Wednesday, March 18, 2009
• Conversations with Calliope - Tuesday, March 17, 2009
• Conversations with Calliope - Monday, March 16, 2009
• Conversations with Calliope - Saturday, March 14, 2009
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• Conversations with Calliope - Tuesday, March 03, 2009
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• Conversations with Calliope - Tuesday, February 17, 2009
• Conversations with Calliope - Monday, February 16, 2009
• Conversations with Calliope - Wednesday, February 04, 2009
• Conversations with Calliope - Tuesday, February 03, 2009
• Conversations with Calliope - Monday, February 02, 2009
• Conversations with Calliope - Saturday, January 31, 2009
• Conversations with Calliope - Friday, January 30, 2009
• Conversations with Calliope - Thursday, January 29, 2009


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