According to Johnson (2004), self-forgiveness requires honesty, the choice to allow for special circumstances, the assuming of responsibility for the consequences of one’s behavior (i.e., the damage done), the choice to make amends, and a commitment to do things differently in the future. Observes Johnson, “If you do not make this commitment to change and follow through on it you will not be free from guilt. In fact, you will very likely repeat the same dysfunctional behavior patterns” (p. 327). Questions for self-examination are provided.
Johnson, S. L. (2004). Therapist’s guide to clinical intervention: The 1-2-3’s of treatment planning (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Academic Press.
According to Johnson (2008), the developer of Emotionally Focused Therapy, the significance and impact of a particular relational trauma may not always be obvious to someone looking in from the outside. Further, the key to appreciating the impact of a given breach of trust is not necessarily to focus on the event itself, but to consider the level of vulnerability such an event may have aroused in the offended partner. For example, a flirtation that occurs during a period of time when the offended partner is experiencing an unusually heightened sense of vulnerability may prove more wounding than an actual extramarital affair that occurs during a period of relative stability. Adding to such dynamics is the fact that the greater number of relational traumas a particular couple suffers at a given time (or has suffered and failed to successfully resolve in the past), the more difficult it is to restore the trust between the partners. Whatever the case, the first goal for a couple seeking to heal from relational trauma and restore trust is forgiveness.
Johnson, S. (2008). Hold me tight: Seven conversations for a lifetime of love. New York, NY: Little, Brown, and Company.