Get a free copy of Sick to Fit!

The Science and Practice of Forgiveness: Nathaniel Wade, PhD, on PYP 449

Nathaniel Wade was studying forgiveness as a grad student at Virginia Commonwealth University when, at the age of 26, he discovered his wife was having an affair from a folded note in the laundry basket.

All of a sudden, the topic no longer seemed theoretical. It was now deeply personal, deeply painful, and deeply present during pretty much every waking moment.

And it leant urgency and passion to Wade's inquiries, and perhaps has turned him into the wise and compassionate person he is today.

Wade is a professor in psychology at Iowa State University. He studies the psychology of forgiveness from a clinical as well as spiritual perspective.

I first discovered Wade's work in an essay in one of my favorite online journals, Aeon magazine. The title was tantalizing: “Forgive and Be Free.” Wade suggested that forgiving another person isn't strictly (or even mostly) for their benefit, but rather for the benefit of the forgiver.

That's all well and good, but for me, forgiveness still had the feel of letting someone off the hook. It's as if by forgiving, I was saying, “Well, I guess it wasn't that bad.”

And maybe I could say that, since honestly the harms that have been inflicted on me in my life have been pretty mild.

But when I think about those abused as children, or assaulted as adults, or falsely accused of crimes, or imprisoned – forgiveness seems like an unreasonably high price to pay for the alleged freedom promised by the article.

But here's what got me hooked, and eager to have a conversation with Wade: the first step of his process involves acknowledging the harm done. Citing a study on forgiveness therapy for survivors of childhood incest, Wade wrote: “For true forgiveness to occur in this context, they argued, the women needed to first acknowledge that a true hurt had been done to them as children.”

And bingo, the penny dropped.

What I had thought of as forgiveness was actually closer to “forgetness,” a minimization of harm. But that whitewashing of the past was the opposite of forgiveness, since it wasn't addressing what actually happened. As Wade said during our conversation, I can forgive only when I admit that what they did was wrong.

In our conversation, we talked about the research as well as the theory and philosophy of forgiveness. We spoke of Wade's own research, the work of others, and directions for future enquiry. (I made some suggestions, which Wade was extremely generous and complimentary about, but he might just be a really nice guy!)

We explored the barriers to forgiveness, whether some people have a predisposition to forgive, and what effective forgiveness therapy interventions look like. We also chatted about self-forgiveness, which is a huge barrier to the changes that many of my coaching clients desire to make.

Links

“Forgive and be Free,” by Nathaniel Wade – in Aeon Magazine

Nathaniel Wade's professional site

“The Psychology of Forgiveness and Unforgiveness and Implications for Clinical Practice,” by Everett L Worthington, Jr, and Nathaniel G Wade

The “Big Five” Personality Traits

Become a Health Coach

New cohort beginning Fall 2021. Live classes will be 10-11:30am US Eastern Time on Wednesday, so this is a Europe- and Africa-friendly class. Also for folks in the US, Canada, and Central/South America who have flexible mornings.

Find out more and apply here: WellStartCoach.com.

New Audiobook: Use the Weight to Lose the Weight

Listen to Josh LaJaunie and me narrate our latest audiobook, about how to start moving when you're obese.

It's $10, and Josh and I split it evenly 🙂

Tip Jar

This podcast is not underwritten by advertising, so I can experience complete editorial autonomy without worrying about pissing off the person paying the bills. Instead, I pay the bills, with your help. It's free for those who can't afford to pay, and supported by those who can. You can contribute to the growth and improvement of the podcast by . Click the “Support on Patreon” or “Donate” buttons on the right to help out.

Music

The Plant Yourself Podcast theme music, “Dance of Peace (Sabali Don),” is generously provided by Will Ridenour, a kora player from North Carolina who has trained with top Senegalese musicians.

It can be found on his first CD, titled Will Ridenour.

You can learn about Will, listen to more tracks, and buy music on his website, WillRidenour.com.

Gratitudes

Thanks to Plant Yourself podcast patrons – Kim Harrison – Lynn McLellan – Brittany Porter – Dominic Marro – Barbara Whitney – Tammy Black – Amy Good – Amanda Hatherly – Mary Jane Wheeler – Ellen Kennelly – Melissa Cobb – Rachel Behrens – Tina Scharf – Tina Ahern – Jen Vilkinofsky – David Byczek – Michele X – Elspeth Feldman – Leah Stolar – Allan Kristensen – Colleen Peck – Michele Landry – Jozina – Sara Durkacs – Kelly Cameron – Janet Selby – Claire Adams – Tom Fronczak – Jeannette Benham – Gila Lacerte – David Donohue – Blair Seibert – Doron Avizov – Gio and Carolyn Argentati – Jodi Friesner – Mischa Rosen – Michael Worobiec – AvIvA Lael – Alicia Lemus – Val Linnemann – Nick Harper – Bandana Chawla – Molly Levine – The Inscrutable Harry R – Susan Laverty the Panda Vegan – Craig Covic – Adam Scharf – Karen Bury – Heather Morgan – Nigel Davies – Marian Blum – Teresa Kopel – Julian Watkins – Brid O'Connell – Shannon Herschman – Linda Ayotte – Holm Hedegaard – Isa Tousignant – Connie Haneline – Erin Greer – Alicia Davis – Heather O'Connor – Carollynne Jensen – Sheri Orlekoski of Plant Powered for Health – Karen Smith – Scott Mirani – Karen and Joe Crabtree – Kirby Burton – Theresa Carrell – Kevin Macaulay – Elizabeth Rothschild – Ann Jesse – Sheryl Dwyer – Jenny Hazelton – Peter W Evans – Dennis Bird – Darby Kelly – Lori Fanney – Linnea Lundquist – Emily Iaconelli – Levi Wallach – Rosamonde McAtee – Dan Pokorney – Stephen Leinin – Patty DeMartino – Mike and Donna Kartz – Deanne Bishop – Bilberry Elf – Marjorie Lewis – Tricia Adams – Nancy Sheldon – Lindsey Bashore – Gunn Marit Hagen – Tracey Gulledge – Lara Hedin – Meg from Mamasezz – Stacey Stokes – Ben Savage – Michael K – David Hughes -Coni Rodgers – Claire England – Sally Robertson – Parham Ganchi – Amy Dailey – Brian Tourville – Mark Jeffrey Johnson – Josie Dempsey – Caryn Schmitt – Pamela Hayden – Emily Perryman – Allison Corbett – Richard Stone – Lauren Vaught of Edible Musings – Erin Hastey – Sean Owens – Sagar Naik – Erika Piedra – Danielle Roberts – Michael Leuchten – Sarah Johnson – Katharine Floyd – Meryl Fury – for your generous support of the podcast.

Disclosure

This post may contain amazon affiliate links. I may receive compensation from your actions on such links. It don't cost you a dime, tho.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *