We are all unique and we all have strengths which allow us to contribute to the world. In the early 2000’s, Dr. Martin Seligman and Dr. Christopher Peterson developed the VIA Character Strengths. Their research determined that there are 24 common character strengths that each of us possess to one degree or another, giving us a common language to use, but still recognizing that each of us is unique.
Each of these Character Strengths fall under one of six broad categories called Virtues. These Virtues and Character Strengths have proven to be universal across cultures and nations. Over the last few weeks we have explored all but one of the 24 strengths that we all share, yet make you uniquely you!
Our last strength is part of the Virtue of Temperance, which brings together those strengths that center on moderation. The strengths associated with this virtue protect us from excess and impulsivity.
The Character Strength of Forgiveness is letting go of the pain of hurt of being wronged. Forgiveness is often misunderstood. Forgiveness is not condoning what has happened and removing what has happened. Forgiveness is not forgetting or losing the awareness of what has happened. Forgiveness is not about reconciliation or restoring a relationship as though nothing has happened.
It is about releasing the need for revenge and letting go. It means releasing the frustration, disappointment, resentment and other painful emotions. Those with a Signature Strength of Forgiveness often experience less negative emotion, are less anxious, less likely to be depressed and have a higher sense of well-being.
The absence of Forgiveness can show up in being merciless, unfeeling or unsympathetic. It's opposite is vengeance and retribution. In excess it manifests as being overly permissive and tolerating behaviors that most others would not. Understanding these opposites, absences and excesses can help us identify Forgiveness in ourselves and in others.
Forgiveness is a precipice of choice. Even if this is not one of your stronger strengths, we all have the option to build this muscle. Forgiveness is associated with many physical and psychological benefits. Emotional well-being, healthy lifestyle behaviors, and improved relationships are just a few.
There are many ways to practice forgiveness. When you feel you have been wronged, take the time to think about how each of us is a complex individual who is continuously growing and transforming. Resist the urge to feel that someone is all good or all bad. Consider times when you may have wronged someone else to try and see other perspectives. Write down or journal about how you feel and what possible positive benefits may be hidden in the situation. Slowing down to work through your feelings to arrive at Forgiveness will change your life.
If you would like to learn more about Forgiveness and your individual strengths, you can visit the website below and complete the free VIA Character Strengths Questionnaire.