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What Self-Forgiveness Actually Means

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In this journal article the authors, Hall & Fincham (2005), give great insights of what self-forgiveness actually means. Self-Forgiveness have various definitions that are given in the social sciences literature and the philosophy literature. In the social science literature self-forgiveness is define as self–love and respect in the face of one’s own wrong doing, and in the philosophy literature it is defined as a show of goodwill toward the self while one clears the mind of the self-hatred and self–contempt that result from hurting another.

Researchers Hall & Fincham (2005) were both stimulated by this topic being that interpersonal forgiveness has always been classified as self-forgiveness, and because of that there has been little research done, actually the differences had not begun to be studied until 1985 (Hall & Fincham, 2005).

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. In the study it has been hypothesized that linking the act to a character flaw is more likely to the extent that there is a history of similar behavior and that self–forgiveness is correspondingly harder to achieve under these conditions (Hall & Fincham, 2005).

Hall & Fincham (2005) conducted a conceptual analysis of self-forgiveness, during their analysis they both began to search for a acceptable definition for self-forgiveness, then after compare and contrast self-forgiveness based off the definitions they discovered to interpersonal forgiveness and pseudo self-forgiveness to create the differences (Hall & Fincham, 2005). As a result of the analysis a theoretical model was created describing the process used or that is involved in self-forgiveness and the perpetration of a interpersonal transgression. The interpersonal transgression is then used to outline the emotional, social cognitive, and offense related determinants that make up self-forgiveness. Results for each determinant were used from Zechmeister and Romero (2002) data analysis. For the emotional determinants Zechmeister and Romero (2002) found that compared to individuals who had not forgiven them forgiven themselves for an offense, those who had reached self–forgiveness was less likely to report guilt and other focused empathy. For the social cognitive determinants, it was founded that that offenders who had not forgiven themselves were more likely to maladaptively attribute their behavior to arbitrary or senseless motives than self–forgiving offenders Also, self–forgiving individuals were more likely to adaptively attribute some of the blame (Zechmeister and Romero,2002).Lastly for the offense related determinants it was founded that self–forgiving offenders were more likely to report apologizing and making amends to the victim than were offenders who did not forgive themselves (Zechmeister and Romero,2002). As discussed in the study, limitations were also used (Hall & Fincham, 2005). The model used was not a comprehensive model of self- forgiveness, and there have been other factors that may be used to facilitate self-forgiveness like relationship level factors, and personality level factors (Hall & Fincham, 2005). Researching interpersonal forgiveness, it was expected that the variables are more related to self-forgiveness than the other determinants that were discussed. Implications for future research is that it has the potential to inform self–forgiveness interventions, which have proliferated in the popular literature (Hall & Fincham, 2005). A reliable method of measuring self–forgiveness can be used as well, also it would be essential to evaluate how well this model fits actual data regarding the self–forgiveness of interpersonal transgressions (Hall & Fincham, 2005). It also will be important to determine whether specific determinants are associated with constructive (i.e. benevolence) and/or destructive (i.e., avoidance, retaliation) aspects of self–forgiveness (Hall & Fincham, 2005).


When reading this article, I found it to be a very insightful research because self-forgiveness is an issue in today’s society, and by it being a issue in a lot of people lives sometimes it drives them down a very negative path in life. In regard to a negative path it may be a path of substance abuse like drugs and alcohol or maybe even an unstable mental health. Reading this article about self-forgiveness changed my perception as well as its main components. I was able to understand why it is so important in regard to interpersonal transgression, and pseudo-forgiveness, that sometimes it could be something seen as a injury or something unreal. I found it to be interesting that both self-forgiveness and interpersonal forgiveness both differentiate, their motivations seem quite similar but the levels and areas they both affects is very different. Motivation that brings about change is created by self-forgiveness, that does not work for interpersonal forgiveness because it is considered permanent and unconditional. Pseudo self-forgiveness was very informative as well, stating that true forgiveness only comes after an individual understands that he or she really did something wrong. When a person don’t take the responsibility and don’t acknowledge their wrong doing then that is also considered to be pseudo self-forgiveness, it does not withhold any positive outcomes. Lastly in regard to the model of self-forgiveness I felt like it was really intriguing. The model that was created can not focus on both interpersonal and intrapersonal transgressions, but it is good for the former. One component I saw from it was guilt, that is considered to cultivate many emotions and attitudes towards a victim, and I could definitely be in agreement with that. I also found it interesting when seeing that there was a negative correlation between self-forgiveness and shame. What really brought upon a shock to me was that the offenders who had forgiven themselves were more apologetic towards the victim or they were apologetic towards their family compared to those that did not forgive themselves. To conclude this I personally think that the article is really profound utilizing the facts from the previous researches, using useful data from another source, and implying new approaches.


Daniel Givens, age 35, came to me with concern about his emotional state and how unstable and unbalance it had been for the past year and a half. Daniel explained to me the start of this issue in his life began when he was walking from work one day and witness a child walking into the street and tried saving the child but failed to do so. The child died, and Daniel could not get over the fact that he was not able to get there quick enough to help that child, he could forgive himself. Daniel stated that he has not been able to sleep at night sometimes, and when he does get sleep, he has nightmares about the child and is unable to go back to sleep. Daniel begin to speak about his use of alcohol and how sometimes it helps him with sleep at night, so he may buy a bottle of vodka every other day. He also mentions taking sleep aid some nights as well, but they rarely help, not as much as the alcohol. After Daniel had explained his issues and concerns about his life and not being able to find self-forgiveness, I determined at that moment that what I need to focus on during throughout this therapy session is helping Daniel forgive himself. The first step into helping Daniel I believe is to help him understand his guilt, and reasons behind him feeling guilty. I want Daniel to be truthful to himself about what happen, and face what can not be changed.

I want to get Daniel to understand that he did all that he could do, and what matters the most is that he tried. Everyone fail sometimes in life, its just that some situations are different than others, but overall nobody is perfect on this earth. Romans 3:23 says that “ for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. Allowing Daniel to confront his emotions stating to him that it’s okay to cry, its okay to feel hurt, ashamed, and disappointed. Informing Daniel to take a effort in trying to love himself, and stop punishing himself for the things that were out of his control. Ecclesiastes 3:1-3 stated that “Everything that happens in this world happens at the time God chooses. He sets the time for birth and the time for death, the time for planting and the time for pulling up, the time for killing and the time for healing, the time for tearing down and the time for building”, quoting this scripture to Daniel to build up his level of self-forgiveness. Informing Daniel that forgiving himself will lift the heavy burden that he has and allow him to cleanse his heart and soul from the negative emotions that controls his life by helping him verbalize his feelings out loud and apologize to the child visualizing as if he is there.

Cite this What Self-Forgiveness Actually Means

What Self-Forgiveness Actually Means. (2021, May 17). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/what-self-forgiveness-actually-means/

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