“The Forgiving Life”

Air Date:
Heard On The Larry Meiller Show
forgiveness, image by Flickr user Bob Gaffney
Image by Flickr user Bob Gaffney

Forgiveness is a gift not just to another person, but to ourselves. Judith Siers-Poisson finds out how forgiving others helps our own health and well-being, and why we should be as kind to ourselves as we are to others.

Featured in this Show

  • Researcher: Forgiveness A Painful But Rewarding Process

    Whether it’s something hurtful said by a spouse or child, unfair treatment by a boss, or old and deep emotional wounds from parents, every person has been hurt during their life.

    But, each person also has a choice to either cling to those injuries or to embrace true forgiveness.

    Robert Enright, a professor of educational psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has pioneered the scientific study of forgiveness, which now claims over 1,000 researchers worldwide. Enright is the author of several books about forgiveness, including “Forgiveness Is a Choice” and “The Forgiving Life: A Pathway to Overcoming Resentment and Creating a Legacy of Love.”

    Enright said that after a person goes through the long and deep process of forgiving others, it isn’t uncommon that they then feel moved to ask for forgiveness from people that they have hurt.

    “I think we see when we start forgiving others, that we have been wounded so much, and then we say, ‘Well, if I’ve hurt somebody else, what kinds of wounds have I left in them?’” He added, “That is a great motivator to reduce the wounds in the other.”

    Enright explained that “forgiving and receiving forgiveness go hand in hand.” And to ask for forgiveness involves going directly to the person that has been wronged and asking them to offer mercy.

    But there are challenges. For example, when someone who has gone through a process of forgiveness as is laid out in “The Forgiving Life,” they have done a lot of emotional work. However, the person that they then go to in order to ask forgiveness likely hasn’t and that can result in a response that isn’t what the person asking for forgiveness typically hoped for.

    Enright described the possible scenario this way: “We have to square it with them, we have to make it right with them … which can be painful. Because just because we say, ‘Please forgive me,’ the other might not be ready. They might be fuming. They might not know what forgiveness is … and so there’s a certain humility here,” he said.

    Enright added that part of the process is lowering expectations for what response might be given and “allowing the other to be wounded.” But, the ultimate success is “making it as easy as we can for them by that act of apology.”

    Enright said that the person asking forgiveness must at that point leave it up to the person whom they hurt “and if they will not cooperate there, we’ve at least done the best that we can.”

Episode Credits

  • Judith Siers-Poisson Host
  • Judith Siers-Poisson Producer
  • Robert Enright Guest

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