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By Kenda-Ruth Stumpf

The Selfish Gift
[To] willfully abandon resentment and related responses (to which they have a right), and endeavour to respond to the wrongdoer based on the moral principle of beneficence, which may include compassion, unconditional worth, generosity, and moral love (to which the wrongdoer, by nature of the hurtful act or acts, has no right)1.

Each individual defines her own threshold for wrong-doing, thus an act may not need forgiveness to all people. Forgiveness is not only choosing not to seek vengeance, revenge or retaliation, but also not desiring these things. It is letting-go of the need for such things. It releases negative feelings, freeing a person from the need to seek revenge. It is a letting-go of the earned negative emotion toward another, letting-go of the right to feel angry--this happens with the realization that not all rights are beneficial.

If there are so many benefits, why hold anger and refuse Forgiveness? One of the greatest factors in avoiding forgiveness is victim-identification--Poor Me. Victims receive attention, pity, sympathy, and allow for feelings of superiority--wrong was done to me, I did nothing wrong. By viewing themselves as right and the other as wrong, victims maintain the moral upper hand. Though considered a powerless state, victims are empowered through the receipt of pity, rather than using personal power, this form of power uses others as its source. Forgiveness takes personal responsibility for Self-healing.

The risk of clinging to the victim identity is that you are unable to detach from your anger. Anger is an emotion. It is real, and for release it needs acceptance--allow anger. Hostility is not an emotion; it is the result of attachment to and unreleased anger. Harbouring hostility is destructive. Anger can become your shield; beware of creating hostility by also making anger your weapon. Hostility is a back-stabber, damaging its owner more than another.

Refusing Forgiveness leads to the Cycle/Steps of Revenge. Revenge is a failure to take responsibility for Self-Healing and inner peace. It fails to heal wounds, and maintains the cycle of negativity. It is a surrender of personal power, suppressing and increasing pain and wounds, Forgiveness is empowering, heals wounds and releases pain.


  1. Enright, Robert, D. and Richard P. Fitzgibbons. Helping Clients Forgive: An Empirical Guide for Resolving Anger and Restoring Hope. Washington D.C.: American Psychological Association, 2000.
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