Mental Health Through Forgiveness

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Forgiveness is an integral part of our life. It basically subsumes forgiving self and forgiving others. Forgiveness is important to move on from any situation. As a cognitive, emotional, and behavioral response to interpersonal conflict, forgiveness generally refers to exonerating another person of blame or giving up claims on another of debt, loan, obligation, or other claims, which is different from condoning, excusing, forgetting, pardoning, and reconciliation (Eaton & Struthers, 2006). Generally, the offended individuals can use forgiveness as an effective coping strategy to promote their happiness and well-being (Worthington & Scherer, 2004).

Forgiveness is a response to harm or injustice who has been treated unjustly and decides to reduce anger and hostility, work hard to provide benevolence towards the offender (Exline, Worthington, Hill, & McCullough, 2003; Toussaint & Friedman, 2009; Wade & Worthington, 2005). It usually incorporates a decrease in negative affect, emotions, cognitions, motivations, and behavior toward the offender (Rye & Pargament, 2002).

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Various areas of the brain are activated during forgiveness response. Farrow et al. (2001) used functional MRI to detect brain regions engaged by judging others’ emotional states and the forgivability of their crimes. Ten volunteers were involved. They read and make judgments based on social scenarios and a high-level baseline task (social reasoning). Both empathic and forgivability judgments activated left superior frontal gyrus, orbitofrontal gyrus, and precuneus. in addition, Empathic judgments also activated left anterior middle temporal and left inferior frontal gyri, while forgivability judgments activated posterior cingulate gyrus.

According to Erikson (1993), a human has eight different development stages. In each stage, there are various conflicts and psychological problems that one needs to resolve. Successful resolution of these conflicts leads to better well-being. However, one needs to have a higher tolerance, compromise and acceptance ability which means letting go of the situation and forgiving self and others (Slater, 2003). Although forgiveness increases with age, the changes in a different aspect of forgiveness might not be the same. For instance, a study by Charzy?„ska and Heszen (2013) reported a positive correlation between age and the capacity to forgive.

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