Can we get over it? Can we forgive?

The controversy of the Casey Anthony trial has caused a plethora of reactions over the course of three years. The trial is over, however, emotions are still raging. As we process moments of confusion, uncertainty, and anger, another thought comes to mind: Can we forgive? The social media trial of the century has made its mark in history and has unintentionally divided a nation.

Nancy Grace says, “I don’t have to agree with Casey Anthony’s jury.”

Casey supporters say, “She’s not guilty, get over it!”

Caylee supporters scream, “Justice for Caylee, Karma for Casey.”

With so many post-trial perspectives, it is natural to experience moments of confusion and frustration. In defense of the jurors, they fulfilled their commitment to justice and made their decision based on what they believed to be a lack of evidence. Our judicial system prides itself on the ability to offer the liberty of “innocence until proven guilty.” The jury decided that the prosecution failed to convince them that Casey murdered her daughter.

So, with the finality of a ‘not guilty’ verdict and Casey’s release from jail, how can a grieving community move forward? Can we forgive Casey?

What is forgiveness?

 

Forgiveness is a conscious decision to release anger, resentment, and revenge.

According to Wade, et al, it is “replacing the bitter, angry feelings of vengefulness often resulting from a hurt, with positive feelings of goodwill toward the offender.” All of us, at some point in our lives, have been faced with the challenge to forgive. Marriages, mother-daughter relationships, best friends, and families are often confronted with the decision to forgive or not forgive. So, what makes it a challenge to forgive others?

What makes forgiveness difficult?

1.   Refusal to let go of anger

2.   Seeking Revenge for injustice

3.   Maintaining an “All bad, all wrong” Perspective

4.   Lack of receiving an apology

5.   The need to enforce the offender to take responsibility

What are the consequences of holding a grudge?

Research shows those who withhold forgiveness and harbor resentment and bitterness live 8 years less than those who “Let it Go!”

1.     Depression

2.     Anxiety

3.     Bitterness

4.     Physical illness (High blood pressure, stroke, muscle pain, etc)

5.     Broken relationships

6.     Spiritual conflict

7.     Lack of peace

How we can forgive:

Forgiveness is a choice and a commitment to change. By understanding the value and worth of forgiveness, one may begin to reestablish a sense of healing from pain, anger, and confusion. Releasing our anger and resentment toward someone also helps us to be free from the emotional control of the person who hurt us. Forgiveness can be an opportunity for learning more about self, others, and the world. Here are a few tips for learning to forgive:

1.   Take time to express displaced emotions in a healthy way

2.   Recognize and acknowledge your pain

3.    Attempt to understand the perspective of the person to be forgiven

4.    Explore feelings of guilt or shame for your role in the event

5.    Determine if you will continue to commit to the relationship or event

6.    Choose to resolve anger and confusion through a letter or conversation.

Misconceptions of forgiveness

1.   Remember, forgiveness does not mean that a person must forget or pretend that the infraction did not occur.

2.   Forgiveness is not an invitation to continue to be a victim

3.   Forgiveness does not mean that the perpetrator is innocent and is not to blame. Forgiveness is necessary when the victim has

been violated.

4.   Forgiveness does not mean that you must allow reconciliation.

5.    Forgiveness is not giving another permission to persist in unhealthy and hurtful actions.

Benefits of forgiveness:

1.     Reduced depression, anxiety, chronic pain, and emotional distress

2.     Psychological and Spiritual health

3.     Reduced risk of substance and alcohol abuse

4.     Reduced somatic symptoms

5.     Stronger personal relationships

6.     Peace

7.     Freedom from past pain

8.    Happiness for present and future

Forgiveness is a choice. Forgiveness is not a feeling. If you or someone you know are struggling with lack of forgiveness due to emotional distress, divorce, infidelity, or past hurt, contact a therapist for help.

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