Psychological Self-Help

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forgiveness would be more central to the care-centered values of women while
“facing the wrongdoing” and moral justice would be more central in the thinking of
men. In any case there is much discussion about the philosophy of forgiveness, and
a recent experiment reported some very interesting findings: Dr. Tania Singer, et al.
(January, 2006) showed that men, who wanted revenge, got extra pleasure (more
than women) when someone who had been unfair to them was physically punished.
So, even brain scans show that some women sometimes do not seek retribution with
the same vigor as men do.
The main focus in this section has been on the person forgiving the wrongdoer or, at
least, being less angry at them. But it is good to remember that there are other main
characters in this scenario: the perpetrator of the mistreatment, a wrongdoer
refusing to apologize or an apologizer begging for forgiveness, people offering advice
or support, members of the family, observers who don’t know how to help, and
others. While we are learning about being forgiving it is very important to keep in
mind that an honest, well worded apology is very important and powerful in
resolving conflicts. Several books could be helpful to anyone in these roles (Engel,
2002; Lamb, 2002; Orsborn, 2001; Landman, 2002). Also, the section near the end
of this chapter about Dealing with an Angry Person should also be helpful.
Forgiving is not forgetting, it is remembering and letting go. -----Claudia Black, 1989
As an overview of forgiving, these are some of the kinds of techniques that have
been developed and used by practicing therapists during the last 20 years:
Be sure you really want to forgive. If anger is still boiling inside and about to
burst out or if you can’t imagine even partly justifying what was done to you,
you probably aren’t ready to work on forgiving. You may never be ready. If
your interest in resolving this friction and in having a better relationship
increases or if your preoccupation with bad memories becomes “much too
painful,” it may be a time to try to forgive. Consider doing this first: Get a
group of trusted, concerned friends together, tell them how and why you are
so upset. Then ask if there is some way you could look at the events
differently. Could you be “nurturing and prolonging your own pain?” Try to
answer these questions too: What would you gain or lose if you just let go of
the pain and resentment? What if you expressed your hurts fully to the
wrongdoer? Are you ready to move on and leave the anger and hurt behind
you? Do you feel even a little responsible for what happened in the
Take the time to make a serious effort to understand the circumstances,
thinking, needs, motives, and hopes of the person who has hurt you. Ask
your friends for help with this. Look for background information that might
help you understand the hurtful person—family and cultural factors, childhood
experiences, psychological problems, self-doubts, resentments, difficulties
with others like you, or anything that would help explain (not excuse) the
resented behavior. Ask his/her friends why they think he/she hurt you.  
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