Dr. Fred Luskin Ph.D. believes that this stage begins when we realize that anger and resentment don’t make us feel better about the situation. He writes “It may be hurting your emotional balance or your physical health. Or you wish to repair the damage to the relationship. So you take steps to forgive.”
Even though you may feel a sense of control or power when you refuse to forgive, it is nothing but a deception to hide your inner pain and insecurities. Revenge may feel satisfying for the time being, but eventually it will do more mental and emotional damage to you than you can imagine. You can never even out your pain by giving it back to someone. You can only alleviate your pain by healing yourself and letting go of your anger.
“Forgiveness is about goodness, about extending mercy to those who’ve harmed us, even if they don’t “deserve” it. It is not about finding excuses for the offending person’s behavior or pretending it didn’t happen,” explains Dr. Robert Enright. He adds “Working on forgiveness can help us increase our self-esteem and give us a sense of inner strength and safety. Forgiveness can heal us and allow us to move on in life with meaning and purpose.”
Stage 3: Working
This is where you actually start working on forgiveness. No, you don’t have to overlook or excuse the unacceptable behavior of the offender, neither you have to fix your relationship right away. This stage entails you to reframe your story and gain a new perspective and look at the incident from the point of view of the offender. This can help you be more objective and gain a better understanding. This can help you realize what has actually led to the situation to unfold the way it has. This is one of the stages of forgiveness that allows you to be more empathetic, compassionate, and human. This is when you accept your inner pain as a part of life and let go of all the anger and hatred you hold inside you. Now you offer leniency and mercy to them.
Dr. Fred Luskin explains “In this stage the choice is to feel the hurt for a short period of time, and then work to either repair the relationship or let go of seeing the situation as a problem. In either case you decide to forgive because you have had some practice with it and see the benefit in your life.”
Stage 4: Deepening
After you have started working on giving forgiveness to someone who has wronged you, you will start experiencing the benefits of releasing negative emotions, like resentment, anger, and anxiety. This will also help you to understand the real meaning behind your negative experience and suffering. You will realize how this entire experience has led to the liberation of your inner self. How you have evolved as a human being and how your heart, mind, and spirit have grown. All this comes with forgiveness.
Dr. Enright writes “When we suffer a great deal, it is important that we find meaning in what we have endured. Without seeing meaning, a person can lose a sense of purpose.” Forgiveness can make people “more resilient or brave”, while some of us may “realize that their suffering has altered their perspective regarding what is important in life, changing their long-range goals for themselves,” adds Enright.
How forgiveness can help you
Going through the stages of forgiveness and forgiving others for their mistake can help you heal psychologically and emotionally. Forgiveness is perhaps the best way for you to respond to a distressing situation. Several studies have found that forgiveness can actually be highly beneficial for our mental health.
A 2016 study by Loren L. Toussaint PhD, and colleagues revealed that the emotion-focused coping process of forgiveness can help to alleviate psychological stress which can lead to poor health. The study stated “As hypothesized, increases in forgiveness were associated with decreases in stress, which were in turn related to decreases in mental health symptoms.”