When the members of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, publicly forgave the man who entered their church service, sat with the parishioners, then began his murderous episode, it set a stunning example of the art of forgiveness to the world.
Robert Enright, PhD, called "the forgiveness trailblazer," is currently "helping schools to establish forgiveness education in Athens, Greece; Belfast, Northern Ireland; Galilee, Israel; and Monrovia, Liberia, Africa," according to his biographical information from his latest book, "8 Keys to Forgiveness."
His essay on the Greater Good website states:
Sometimes the hurt is very deep, such as when a spouse or a parent betrays our trust, or when we are victims of crime, or when we’ve been harshly bullied. Anyone who has suffered a grievous hurt knows that when our inner world is badly disrupted, it’s difficult to concentrate on anything other than our turmoil or pain. When we hold on to hurt, we are emotionally and cognitively hobbled, and our relationships suffer.
Forgiveness is strong medicine for this. When life hits us hard, there is nothing as effective as forgiveness for healing deep wounds. I would not have spent the last 30 years of my life studying forgiveness if I were not convinced of this.
Many people have misconceptions about what forgiveness really means—and they may eschew it. Others may want to forgive, but wonder whether or not they truly can. Forgiveness does not necessarily come easily; but it is possible for many of us to achieve, if we have the right tools and are willing to put in the effort.
The 8 steps are:
- Know what forgiveness is and and why it matters.
- Become "forgivingly fit."
- Address your inner pain.
- Develop a forgiving mind through empathy.
- Find meaning in your suffering.
- When forgiveness is hard, call upon other strengths.
- Forgive yourself.
- Develop a forgiving heart.