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Forgiveness and Gender

When it comes to forgiveness, men and women go about it in completely different ways. This from Julie Exline, a professor of psychology at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. She’s conducted seven forgiveness-related surveys of about 1,400 college students in the U.S. from 1998 to 2005.

Exline found that when men recalled their own offenses, they were more likely to empathize and then forgive. But they had to do that emotional work first. On the other hand,  when the women started thinking about their own offenses, they tended to feel defensive and guilty, and that made it harder for them to forgive.

The road to forgiveness may be arduous, but Exline has advice on getting started:

• Allow yourself to experience anger, but don’t hold onto it for months or years on end. When the anger starts to consume you, you’ve held onto it for too long.

• Try to step into the shoes of those who hurt you in hopes you’ll see the situation from their perspective.

• Most importantly, have patience with yourself: “Remember, forgiveness doesn’t have to happen in a day.”

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