This character strength involves forgiving those who have wronged or offended us. Forgiveness entails accepting the shortcomings of others, giving people a second chance, and putting aside the temptation to hold a grudge or behave vengefully. Forgiveness allows one to put aside the self-destructive negativity associated with anger and to extend mercy toward a transgressor.
How to demonstrate this Character Strength:
Movies: Pay It Forward (2000), Terms of endearment (1983), Dead Man Walking (1995), Ordinary People (1980)
Songs: Good Old Days (Macklemore), These Days (Macklemore)
Suggested strategies that correlate with this strength:
- Remember times when you offended someone and were forgiven, then extend this gift to others.
- Evaluate your emotions before and after forgiving someone
- Understand from the offenders perspective why he/she offended you. Then assess whether your reaction is hurting you more than the offender.
- Make a list of individuals against whom you hold a grudge, then either meet them personally to discuss it or visualise whether bygones can be bygones.
- Meet a person who offended you in the past, especially if he / she is a family member. Tell them that you have forgiven them, or just be kind in your interaction with them.
- Ask for forgiveness from a Devine power according to your faith and assess how you feel afterwards.
- Pray for the noble behaviour of your offender, and if you’re not religious, then just hope for them.
- Identify how a grudge tortures you emotionally. Does it produce disruptive emotions (anger, hatred, fear, worry, sadness, anxiety, jealousy etc)? Write three ways these disruptive emotions affect your behaviour.
- Plan out what your response should be the next time someone offends you. Remind yourself of your plan (rehearse if possible) and periodically affirm, “No matter how he/ she offends me, I will respond as I have planned.”
- Imagine your offender and consider whether you have any payback fantasies. Imagine in detail what might happen if you forgive the offender. Journal your reactions. Start with a moderate offense and continue until you achieve forgiveness and resolution. During this exercise continuously remind yourself this is a forgiving exercise, not a grudge-holding one.
Remember, when you are doing something in life that uses your strengths, it will strengthen you. When you are doing something in life that requires you to use your lower strengths, or weaknesses, it will weaken you. You can use your strengths to accommodate for your weaknesses.
By monitoring the above, you will be able to catch when there is an incongruence in this personal strength. An incongruence will compromise you and cause inner conflict, so the above will help you keep on the right track.
Niemiec, R. M, 2017, Character Strengths Interventions, Hogrefe, Boston
Tayyab, R., Anjum, A., 2005, 340 Ways to Use VIA Character Strengths, University of Pennsylvania