Building and Maintaining Relationships Through Forgiveness


Writer/ Researcher:
Jossa Corpuz
Moderator: Richardson Mojica
Graphics: Jia Moral, Krystle Labio, Ian Stephen Velez


Forgiveness is a crucial element in building and maintaining relationships. It is a complex process that involves letting go of resentment and bitterness. This act can significantly impact one’s relationship with oneself, society, and within the context of the Philippine system. Here’s an exploration of how forgiveness can aid in nurturing and sustaining relationships across these three dimensions.

Forgiveness and Self-Relationship

Forgiveness begins with oneself. It involves acknowledging personal mistakes and choosing to release the guilt associated with them. Self-forgiveness is essential for mental well-being, as it reduces self-criticism and promotes self-compassion. By forgiving ourselves, we can achieve a healthier relationship with our inner selves, which in turn enables us to relate better with others. Self-forgiveness helps to build self-esteem and confidence, fostering a positive self-image that reflects in our interactions with others.

Forgiveness in Society

In a broader societal context, forgiveness plays a pivotal role in promoting social harmony. Society is composed of individuals with diverse backgrounds and experiences, and conflicts are inevitable. The ability to forgive can bridge gaps caused by misunderstandings and conflicts. Forgiveness encourages empathy and understanding, which are essential for peaceful coexistence. It allows individuals to move past grievances and work together towards common goals, creating a sense of community and cooperation.

Forgiveness in System

The Philippine society is deeply rooted in family values and communal relationships. The concepts of utang na loob (debt of gratitude) and pakikisama (social harmony) are central to Filipino culture. Forgiveness within this context not only mends personal relationships but also strengthens community bonds. It reflects the Filipino values of compassion and respect. The judicial system in the Philippines also emphasizes restorative justice, which focuses on reconciliation and healing rather than retribution. This approach aligns with the cultural practice of seeking forgiveness and providing second chances.

Practical Steps to Forgiveness

Acknowledgment: Recognize the hurt and accept the emotions associated with it.
Reflection: Understand the circumstances that led to the offense and its impact.
Empathy: Looking at someone’s situation through their own perspective
Decision: Make a conscious choice to forgive, even if it’s difficult.
Communication: Express forgiveness to the other party, if possible, to facilitate mutual understanding.
Healing: Allow time for emotional healing and rebuilding trust.

Forgiveness is not about condoning wrongdoings but about freeing oneself from the burden of resentment. It is a gift we give to ourselves and others, promoting healthier relationships and societal harmony. In the context of the Philippines, forgiveness aligns with cultural values and contributes to a more compassionate and cohesive society.

Session Questions: 

  1. Self: How can I practice forgiveness in my own life to improve my mental health and relationships?
  2. Society: What role does forgiveness play in creating a more compassionate and understanding community?
  3. System: How can institutions support the practice of forgiveness to promote societal well-being and harmony?


Akinci, C., & Sadler-Smith, E. (2019). The Role of Forgiveness in Relationship Recovery. Journal of Management & Organization, 25(2), 197-212.

Enright, R. D., & Fitzgibbons, R. P. (2015). Forgiveness Therapy: An Empirical Guide for Resolving Anger and Restoring Hope. American Psychological Association.

McCullough, M. E., Pargament, K. I., & Thoresen, C. E. (2001). Forgiveness: Theory, Research, and Practice. Guilford Press.

Nadal, K. L. (2020). Filipino American Psychology: A Handbook of Theory, Research, and Clinical Practice.

John Wiley & Sons.

Wade, N. G., Hoyt, W. T., Kidwell, J. E. M., & Worthington, E. L. (2014). Efficacy of Psychotherapeutic Interventions to Promote Forgiveness: A Meta-Analysis. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 82(1), 154-170.

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