Enter [what’s been on my mind]

Forgiveness is not a natural human response. At times, it’s even easier to forgive people for being wrong rather than being right. In a competitive environment like a workplace, forgiveness can seem more like a sign of weakness rather than a helpful step towards resolution. With so many reasons of why it’s hard to forgive, are there any arguments that can be made for forgiveness?

Blink [see a new perspective]

Studies completed by the scientific community (such as the Mayo Clinic) illustrate the positive effects of forgiveness. They have found that resentment impairs your thinking and negatively affects your health (i.e. high stress and blood pressure). Therefore, freeing yourself of resentment by practicing forgiveness can actually benefit your health. It also creates a more effective work environment where communication flows more clearly (and without the passive aggressive undertone).

Shift [try it out]

Keep in mind that forgiveness is a choice. No matter how you feel about the situation, you can always choose to move through it and take steps towards forgiveness and reconciliation. A book that I’m currently reading explains this process perfectly:

“You must forgive in order to understand. Until you forgive, you defend yourself against the possibility of understanding…If you forgive you may indeed still not understand, but you will be ready to understand, and that is the posture of grace” Home, by Marilynne Robinson.

This week, do a self-check and ask “Who am I resentful towards?” If a person comes to mind, remind yourself about the benefits of forgiveness, stop defining the situation based on emotion and hurt, and take the steps to forgive.

Listen [hear from our community]

Forgiveness is the choice to not hold the wrong-doer accountable anymore. Holding a grudge only hurts the grudge-holder, but forgiveness frees you up to have more and better opportunities. Forgiveness doesn’t have to mean reconciliation or closeness, although it can in the best case scenarios. Forgiveness means that you give up your right to be angry, bitter or vengeful toward the wrong-doer. The result is peace and personal power.

  1. Identify the wrong that’s been done.
  2. Identify what justice would look like.
  3. Choose to forgive and let go of your right to get even.
  4. Be released of the power that person’s wrong-doing has had over you.
  5. Verbalize well-wishes for the person.

– Michelle Holloman, Eastside Counseling and Coaching

13 replies
  1. Peter Chee
    Peter Chee says:

    Annie, I love your blog posts. You have a great insight and I appreciate that you are sharing what you’re reading too. I also really like what Michelle Holloman shared as well.

    Forgiveness is hard. It’s hard because it’s easier to just be mad and just be spiteful. However, after you shared this quote with me a month ago, I really analyzed the words “You must forgive in order to understand”. For me that’s where I want things to be logical and I want things to make sense. However, I don’t think I would ever understand if I never could forgive. It’s too big of a rock that is in the way.

    The funny thing is the second part of the quote “If you forgive you may indeed still not understand, but you will be ready to understand, and that is the posture of grace”. I find it kind of funny because in the past I have forgiven, yet I still don’t understand. I know that in the end I just need more grace and extend that out to others.

    I learned a lot from our discussions over the last month on this and glad you turned this into a blog post!

    • Annie Vander Pol
      Annie Vander Pol says:

      I love what you said here…”I don’t think I would ever understand if I never could forgive”…that is so true. Thanks for sharing!

    • Annie Vander Pol
      Annie Vander Pol says:

      Thanks again, Michelle, for your addition to this post. I really appreciate your 5-steps, as well as saying that sometimes forgiveness does not mean reconciliation or closeness. I feel like there is a lot of freedom in hearing that!

  2. Savannah
    Savannah says:

    I don’t often think in terms of “forgiveness” and “anger” in the office, but I think this is certainly applicable in the work place. By simplifying a situation into the most basic parts and understanding where the conflict stems, makes it much easier to find a resolution. Sometimes just forgiving the wrong-doer is the best solution!

    Wonderful insight from both Annie and Michelle!

  3. Brian Hansford (@remarkmarketing)
    Brian Hansford (@remarkmarketing) says:

    I REALLY like this post. I have been working on some personal inventory over the last year and I have learned forgiveness leads to an amazing sense of relief and peace.In turn that leads to happiness and a focus on what is truly important. Forgiveness is not a sign of weakness (regardless of what Gibbs says on NCIS). In fact it’s a sign of strength.

    I learned something from Stephen Covey many years ago about dependence, independence, and interdependence. By holding a resentment you are essentially giving rent-free space to that person or thing, becoming ‘dependent’ on them. By forgiving, you can move on and heal and grow. Very powerful.

    Outstanding post. One of my faves for all of 2012!

    • Annie Vander Pol
      Annie Vander Pol says:

      I totally resonate with this concept of “rent-free” space. Sometimes the one thing that gets me to move through the steps of forgiveness is simply to free my mind! Because more often than not, they are not thinking about the conflict as much as I am! Thanks for sharing this, Brian.

    • Peter Chee
      Peter Chee says:

      Brian that’s a great point about the “rent-free space” — that’s an example I totally understand! It’s kind of like setting that part free and being able to fill that back up with something that is positive.

      About 5 years ago, I did this exercise with a group of people where we privately wrote something down on a piece of paper that we wanted to let go of and one by one we walked up to a open fire and tossed in the piece of paper. I’ve only done that once in my life, but, it did allow me to let go of it.

    • Rohan Roger David Zener
      Rohan Roger David Zener says:

      Not exactly; the story never ends there. Forgiving, instead of serving practitioners as the free pass from prison they would covet, can end up being the prison itself.

      A forgiving person is thus, among the most hopeleßly imprisoned people alive, because he falsely believes he is free. The truth is, that he’s serving a hundred years under his new domineering warden.

  4. Jamie
    Jamie says:

    Annie, great post! I agree with Brian, forgiveness can be cathartic, but it’s not an easy thing. It makes me think of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and needing to complete one step before moving on. I feel like we’re all working on ourselves, to be better people, this is a great place to start.


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