Forgiveness | Character Strength | VIA Institute

Become Aware Of Your Strength

Understand what forgiveness is all about so you can begin recognizing it in yourself and others.
What is Forgiveness?

Forgiveness means to extend understanding towards those who have wronged or hurt us. It means to let go. In many cases this is the letting go of some or all of the frustration, disappointment, resentment, or other painful feelings associated with an offense. Forgiveness, and the related quality of mercy, involve accepting the shortcomings, flaws, and imperfections of others and giving them a second (or third) chance. As the expression goes, it is letting bygones be bygones, rather than being vengeful. It is a process of humanizing those who have led us to feel dehumanized.

It is important to distinguish forgiveness from:

  • condoning (removes the offense)
  • forgetting (removes the awareness)
  • reconciliation (restores the relationship)
Which virtue is this strength?
Forgiveness is a strength within the virtue category of temperance, one of six virtues that subcategorize the 24 strengths. Temperance describes strengths that help you manage habits and protect against excess. The other strengths in Temperance are forgiveness , humility , prudence , and self-regulation .

Explore and Apply Your Strength

Research findings on the benefits of the strength of forgiveness found apologies promote forgiveness. Research also found that partners who characterize their relationship as highly satisfying, committed, and close are more likely to forgive when transgressions occur. Forgiveness can too contribute to productive interpersonal relationships, thriving teamwork, job satisfaction, personal morale, innovative problem-solving, a sense of flexibility when facing changes, and productivity.