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Stages of Forgiveness: Stage 4

By Dr. Allen Novian on September 28, 2011

Stage 4: Stop Punishing

one of the common behaviors of people is to try to punish those who have harmed us. Most studies have shown that punishment rarely teaches anything other than to resent the person doing the punishing! Some of the ways you may punish are by withholding companionship, giving someone the silent treatment, or even giving compliments but then taking it back with an insult. You may try to go further with legal action, or you may try to damage things that the other person prizes. Another method of punishment is gossiping about the other person. In order to truly forgive, you need to give up the expectation that the other person should be punished. You can ask that the other person make amends for their harm, but if they refuse or are unable to make amends, then releasing them from the idea of punishment frees you from lingering resentment.

There is great wisdom in following the apostle Peter’s advise, “Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another, be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble” (1 Peter 3:8). Or, if you prefer, great wisdom can be found in the buddhist teaching, “Should one person ignorantly do wrong, and another ignorantly becomes angry with him, who would be at fault?” It is far better to try to forgive and reintegrate others back into community than to ostracize and alienate them through punishment. Try to practice compassion, work at developing a deeper understanding of how and why people behave as they do. It seems that we prefer a simple explanation of things, yet you need to understand that human beings and relationships between each other are complex.

Understanding the ways of the world and the people in it requires wisdom and self-control. Use the opportunity to forgive as a means of growth!

By Praisaeng, published on 02 August 2013 at Stock Photo - image ID: 100188481

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