The ability to forgive one’s own faults has never been valued on par with forgiveness towards the others’ failures, which is rather unfortunate, as the recent research shows.
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According to the article titled “Self-Forgiveness: The Stepchild of Forgiveness Research” conducted by Julie H. Hall and Frank D. Fincham, people’s attitude towards the others is in most cases defined by their standards for their own behavior and personality.
In their paper, the authors explain the link between forgiveness and self-forgiveness, as well as define various offence-related factors. It is important to stress that the researches of that kind have never been undertaken on a scholarly scale before, since the issue in question has never been considered worthy of a scholarly research.
However, Hall and Fincham have successfully proved the opposite. The key issues that the given research responds to or, at least, attempts to solve, are the definition of self-forgiveness, the relation between self-forgiveness and interpersonal forgiveness, and the means to differentiate between self-forgiveness and pseudo self-forgiveness.
As for the results of the research, it must be admitted that the latter proved rather unexpected. It turned out that the forgiveness of others is closely related to self-forgiveness; moreover, the latter often predetermines the former.
In addition, the authors have come up with a model of self-forgiveness that encompasses the stages of the forgiveness process, explaining the specifics of human behavior in the process of forgiving.
According to the authors, self-forgiving people tend to compromise in the process of conflict solving, as well as admit that they are guilty, in most cases. Hence, it can и concluded that self-forgiveness defines forgiveness.
The issue seems to be beyond exciting. Even though the idea that forgiveness stems from the ability to forgive one’s own faults is not quite new, the research offers a new vision of the problem. Hence, it seems that the paper by Hall and Fincham provides a foil for the further research.
In addition, the paper raises a number of questions that are yet to be answered. For instance, Hall and Fincham claim that at present, there are no measures for forgiveness, which makes the assessment process rather complicated according to the results of Hall and Fincham’s research (Hall & Fincham, 2005, 635).
Moreover, the paper by Hall and Fincham raises a number of questions concerning people’s standards and the necessity to follow them. For example, the fact that forgiveness stems from self-forgiveness presupposes that one should have certain standards to evaluate his/her own behavior.
Projecting these standards on others, people often forget that not only the rest of the humankind, but they as well cannot live up to high standards all the time; hence stem a number of misunderstandings and misconceptions. The research results also give a lot of food for thoughts.
It was more than obvious that the way in which people assess the others’ actions and decide whether the other people deserve being forgiven are much more complicated than the idea of relationship between forgiveness and self-forgiveness.
Hence, the fact that Hall and Fincham came with the description of relationship-level factors and personality-level factors is quite important. In addition, the two aforementioned factors remind of the gap between an individual and the society.
Hence, it can be considered that self-forgiveness and, therefore, forgiveness is predetermined not only by the specifics of one’s temper, but also by the moods and morals of the society that an individual lives in.
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Like any other idea, the theory concerning forgiveness and self-forgiveness needs a thorough practical testing. To consider Hall and Fincham’s assumptions closer, it will be a good idea to use the theories suggested by the authors in the counseling setting.
For instance, the following case can be a good example of how Hall and Fincham’s ideas of forgiveness and self-forgiveness should be applied. Supposing, in counseling setting, a client has asked me as a clinician for help. After a short session, it has turned out that the client, Mr. Brown, has issues with forgiving.
However, he has not considered the given feature a flaw until recently. To be more particular, Mr. Brown has constant conflicts with his stepson, whom he is still blaming for failing at the tests and not going for higher education.
In the course of the therapy session, it became obvious that Mr. Brown has very high standards, and not everyone in the neighborhood can live up to them. To make the situation even more complicated, Mr. Brown confessed that even he could not live up to these standards all the time, which makes him feel extremely guilty.
As a result, not only he, but also the people who live with him suffer. To solve the given situation, it will be necessary to make Mr. Brown realize the inevitability of making mistakes, as well as the importance of being able to admit that he has the right to make these mistakes.
Hall, J. & Fincham, F. (2005). Self-forgiveness: The stepchild of forgiveness research. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 24(5), 621-637.