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Forgiveness, Understanding

Forgiveness, Children

Forgiveness, Emotional Skill, Sincerity

Forgiveness and Unmet Needs

Other Core Topics

Respect | Empathy
Caring | Listening

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Forgiveness, Understanding

People who don't understand why they do things, and don't know what their emotional needs are and which emotional needs are unmet from their childhood; and who don't know why they are unmet, and how their parents, teachers and other adults failed to meet them, are less likely to be able to really forgive themselves.

To take this idea further, people who can't understand and forgive themselves probably will not be able to understand or forgive others.

I can forgive myself more easily now because I understand how I was emotionally damaged and I know I am just trying to meet my unmet emotional needs. And it is much easier for me to forgive others now.


Forgiveness and Children

Children forgive very easily. They don't have to understand things to forgive. So I would suspect that it is natural to forgive. Maybe we only become unforgiving after years of unproductive resentment. I say "unproductive" because I believe it is possible for resentment to be productive, depending on how we use it.



Forgiveness, Emotional Skill, Sincerity

I once saw this quote:

"Very few people are emotionally skilled enough to apologize sincerely, and without any defensiveness. "

I would say, however, that sincerity and lack of defensiveness are more a matter of the actual feelings behind the words, rather than a form of skill. For example, I might be able to say or write words such as " I sincerely regret my behavior. Thank you for letting me know how my actions hurt you." Yet, in reality, I might still feel justified for what I did. If so, the other person will sense this no matter what words I use, especially if the message is delivered verbally in person, where the body language will reveal the true feelings.

To truly feel remorseful seems to require that we feel real empathy. To feel empathy seems to require that we feel secure enough in ourselves not to feel defensive.

The feelings about ourselves, which help us feel secure emotionally or psychologically, are much harder to attain than simple skills and techniques of communicating. In other words, it is harder to change those inner feelings than to change our outward behavior.

I suggest, therefore, it would be more accurate to say "Few people have the emotional security to apologize sincerely without feeling defensive."


The relationship between empathy and defensiveness is discussed more in this article.


Forgiveness and Unmet Needs

If a person has many unmet emotional needs, for example, they do not feel fully accepted or understood or valued by others, or, they don't feel forgiven themselves by others, it may be harder for them to forgive both themselves and others. Thus, relative to others whose emotional needs are more satisfied, they may feel more defensive in general.

If a person has trouble forgiving themselves it may also imply they don't understand themselves and their emotional or other needs. Lacking this self-understanding, it will be difficult or impossible to understand other people and their needs. This could make it hard for them to forgive others who are trying to fill their unmet needs.

Some writing from around 1998...

Generally, I believe if someone has harmed us or the species, there is some restitution needed, or at least some acknowledgement, acceptance of responsibility or apology. For me, I am able to usually able to forgive when someone apologizes - if it is a sincere apology - but not when they do not do any of the above.

There seems to be some value, at times, in not forgiving, but bitterness can be toxic. Acceptance often leads to inner peace and better physical health.