Written by : Ryan M. Niemiec, Psy.D.

The Strength of Forgiveness

While it’s not always easy to do, science tells us it’s worth doing.

Side view of two sad good friends embracing in a bedroom in a house interior with a dark light in the background

While it's not always easy to do, science tells us it's worth doing.

While forgiveness has been cherished and heralded across cultures for centuries, it’s not as common as you might expect. In the United States, for example, its average rank is 19th out of 24 character strengths.

The practice of forgiveness is complex, but the research is clear on one thing: It is a process. It’s not something that you do one time and receive dramatic results, especially if you’ve been deeply hurt.

Forgiveness involves many character strengths:

Bravery—the courage to be vulnerable.

Wisdom—seeing the bigger picture.

Self-regulation—not ranting, exploding or expressing grudges.

Humility—placing attention on the other person.

Learning to forgive has great benefits, both physical and psychological. Science shows us this is largely because when we forgive others, we let go of our own suffering.
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