Beyond Revenge – Forgiveness (Part three of a five part series)
Books and movies are full of stories of revenge and in real life the process of getting even and most folks has a very powerful desire to hurt someone who has hurt us. The bible says “An eye for an eye” the out come of that philosophy is that both people don’t have sight. It may even be satisfying at first getting back at someone, but then there may be more retribution and in the end more pain.
Michael McCullough the author of “Beyond Revenge” talks about activating the “Forgiveness Instinct”. He says that Evolution has given us the inclination to forgive so that we can maintain personal, community, and business relationships. Those folks who are able to forgive are more able to form and maintain relationships that help at us survive and beyond that, help us live positive and successful lives.
Interestingly, McCullough has suggested that three conditions have to exist to encourage forgiveness in the animal kingdom, those conditions are: safety, value, and worthiness; first we have to feel as though we are safe from future harm; second, we have to feel that person has some value to us; and third, that the person deserves to be forgiven.
I would suggest that with humans we have to feel the person is remorseful for what they have done. It also helps if they, whenever possible. are willing to make amends. I believe that it essential for forgiveness to be occur, the person must feel that in someway it is in their best interest to be forgiving. Best interest might include not being consumed with anger or hate; or releasing negative energy that can be toxic.
In this blog I have outlined some of the conditions necessary for forgiveness to occur. In the next blog I will talk about additional factors that are significant for forgiveness. Forgiveness is an important and difficult topic, it is my hope that you will reread this and think about what applies to you and what additional things have to occur for you to be able to forgive.
Carrying a grudge, anger, or hate is hardest for the person who is feeling it. I’m not saying to let go of the vengeance for the sake of the transgressor (the bad guy) but for the sake of the person already harmed. Even if one learns to be neutral or indifferent it gives that person the opportunity to be free emotionally to connect with other people in a caring and nurturing way and that is what makes a positive quality of life for us humans.
Curious about how to better negotiate with your partner:
Go to “Negotiation Handbook for Couples”: From conflict to connection