Self–Forgiveness: The Stepchild of Forgiveness Research

Summary of the Article

There is an insistent need to distinguish self-forgiveness from interpersonal forgiveness since there is currently little empirical or conceptual scholarship. The article Self–Forgiveness: The Stepchild of Forgiveness Research posits to provide stimuli for research on this subject matter by providing a conceptual study regarding self–forgiveness. In this article self–forgiveness is distinguished and defined in a manner that it distinguishes itself from interpersonal forgiveness as well as pseudo self–forgiveness. The article conceptualizes self–forgiveness as a collection of motivational changes in which an individual becomes decreasingly stimulated to circumvent stimuli related to the offense decreasingly stimulated to get revenge against the self, such as punishing the self, or engaging in self–destructive conduct, and increasingly stimulated to act munificently to the self. According to the article, avoidance in self–forgiveness is aimed at the victim as well as toward feelings, thoughts, and conditions related to the transgression. When self–forgiveness is realized, such avoidance is needless since the transgressor is at peace with their behaviour as well as its consequences. Benevolence and retaliation in self-forgiveness tend to focus on the transgressor (Julie & Frank, 2005).

According to the article, interpersonal forgiveness and self–forgiveness share resemblance at the level of definition. These two types of forgiveness are processes that open up over time, and necessitate an objective error for which the wrongdoer is not permitted forgiveness, but is nonetheless offered forgiveness. Self–forgiveness matches interpersonal forgiveness in that it is dissimilar from forgetting or condoning a contravention. Forgiving the self, according to the article, does not denote that a person’s behaviour was tolerable, or should be ignored. Interpersonal forgiveness and self–forgiveness are both conscious efforts that do not transpire unintentionally. There are also several significant distinctions between the two in that interpersonal forgiveness cannot connote reconciliation with the wrongdoer, while reconciliation with the self is essential in self–forgiveness (Julie & Frank, 2005).

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In order to truthfully forgive oneself, an individual ought to either implicitly or explicitly recognize that one’s behavior was erroneous or admit responsibility or culpability for such conduct. Devoid of these elements, self–forgiveness is immaterial, and pseudo self–forgiveness may be expected. Pseudo self–forgiveness takes place when a wrongdoer fails to admit to wrongdoing and admit liability. In such circumstances, one could mean that a person had forgiven oneself when in reality, one does not consider that one did something wrong.

The article also provides the determinants that relate to self–forgiveness. These include emotional, social–cognitive, and offense–related determinants.

The article also provides several implications for prospective research, which are explicit, in the model provided in the article. The foremost among the implications for prospective research is that it holds the potential to enlighten on several interventions in self–forgiveness, which have thrived in the accepted literature. Although, currently there lacks empirically authenticated interventions designed distinctively to aid self–forgiveness. This requires development in the forgiveness research (Julie & Frank, 2005).

Interaction with the Article

The article presents valuable insight into the issue of forgiveness in that it enlightens the readers that forgiveness begins with the self. It is clear according to the article that, the most kindhearted thing that an individual can do to themselves as well as to other people is forgiving themselves. The article demonstrates the significance of learning how to forgive others and more specifically the significance of forgiving oneself. The article demonstrates that one cannot offer to others what they do not offer themselves. Unless a person discovers how to forgive themselves, then and only then, would he be able to offer forgiveness to other people. Paradoxically though, the article demonstrates that, when one learns to forgive themselves, they will sequentially discover that they do not have anything to forgive other people for (Julie & Frank, 2005).

Forgiving oneself is not intended to relinquish one from responsibility, but it makes a person increasingly responsible, but in an increasingly focused and positive way. Forgiving others demonstrates that a person has the capacity to open up and allow love to stream through them. It demonstrates that one no longer holds grudges or bear hatred in their heart, according to the law of attraction. This law stipulates that, one can only obtain that which one sends out, and consequently if one projects only love and forgiveness, then one will attract other persons who do likewise. Therefore, it would be rare to encounter behavior that would warrant their forgiveness. On the contrary, this cannot exist until one learns to forgive themselves (Julie & Frank, 2005).

Application of the Article

This article holds adequate enlightenment for the purposes of counseling on the issue of forgiveness. A pastor may apply this article in a counseling session of a person who may be depressed as a result of overwhelming feelings of guiltiness. Such a person requires understanding that the journey to internal peace, as well as healing, guilt and forgiveness of the self, as well as other people, bear a weighty effect on the healing process. Guilt in this regard may be defined as an emotion of culpability particularly for imaginary offences or a sense of insufficiency, while and forgiveness may be defined as the process of forgiving or the cease of feelings of resentment against a wrongdoer.  According to the article, a person suffering from depression would be taught that guilt and inability to forgive the self and other people, burdens a lot of people with the heaviness of inappropriate indignity and the destruction of innate resentments. The belief that recognizing emotion denotes weakness is an outrageous legacy that burdens people particular the male gender. Teaching people that strength means not feeling or denying our feelings is tantamount to creating illness.

Depression is considered to originate from the anger that is turned toward the inner being. This is just one of the indicators of the need to guard against the ridicule associated with the expression of inner feelings. When one forgives the self as well as other people, they let go of a component of the self that strives to keep them trapped inside a vicious circle of shame, blame, guilt and fear. Therefore, acknowledging the inner feelings and learning to forgive the self as well as other persons would be the commencement of the healing process (Julie & Frank, 2005) in such a case.













Julie, H., & Frank, D. (2005). Self–Forgiveness: The Stepchild of Forgiveness Research. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 24 (5), 621-637.

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