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Psychiatry & Psychotherapy Podcast

Apr 11, 2019

On this week’s episode of the podcast, I talk about the power of forgiveness. It’s scientifically proven that forgiveness can impact our health. As mental health professionals, this has important impacts both personally and professionally. I have also included a downloadable PDF for you to give your patients to help you walk them through the act of forgiving.

As a therapist, when I say the word “forgiveness,” my patients can shut down if I don’t explain it properly. Why? Because just the need for forgiveness is proof that they have been wronged. When we are wronged, it can be hard to let go of that hurt. That’s why I wanted to start out by saying what forgiveness (and this episode) is not about.

Forgiveness is not:

It is not approving.

It is not excusing the action, denying it, or overlooking it.

It is not just moving on (particularly not with cold indifference).

It is not forgetting or pretending it did not occur.

It is not justifying or letting go of possibly needed justice.

It is not calming down.

It is not a bargain or negotiation.

It is more than ceasing to be angry.

It is more than being neutral towards the other.

It is more than making oneself feel good.

It is one step towards reconciliation, but it is different from reconciliation, which requires a sincere apology from all parties.

It is not dependent on the one you forgive—that would give the other power to control you by keeping you in your bitterness. Consider Corrie Ten Boom, who forgave the Nazis after losing her family in the Holocaust, or Marietta Jaeger who, after her daughter was kidnapped and brutally murdered, was able to forgive. People can forgive, even when the person who wronged them is unknown or dead.

It is not a one time event, but may need to be repeated (sometimes the hurt comes back, sometimes you need to start every morning with forgiveness).

It is not a restoration of full trust (trust takes time to develop or to be reinstated).

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