Interview with Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife on Forgiving Others
The idea that I wanted to explore and discuss is the participation in forgiving others in a way that lacks strength and virtue, in short, doormat forgiveness. Doormat Forgiveness can be tricky to identify because on the surface it looks “good” and it looks like the “Christian” thing to do. But Doormat Forgiveness is an act of weakness and is destructive. It limits one’s ability to heal. We need to look at the different “versions” of forgiveness and so that when we choose to open our hearts to forgiving others we can forgive in a way that comes from our strength and that is productive, strengthening, healing, and promotes the development of our own self. “Doormat Forgiveness” isn’t true forgiveness.
The main question I want to explore is this: What are some misconceptions about forgiveness? And in what ways is counterfeit forgiveness, or “doormat forgiveness”, hurtful, harmful, and destructive?
Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Boston College where she wrote her dissertation on LDS women and sexuality. She has taught college-level classes on human sexuality and currently has a private therapy practice in Chicago where she lives with her husband and three children. She is an active member of the LDS church
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If you look closely and compare the audio to the written transcript, you’ll notice that they are not a replica of each other. The transcripts have been edited by myself and by Dr. Finlayson-Fife as we have both taken the time to read through the transcripts refining our words to articulate our thoughts better. The audio recordings are unique whereas they are not like a formal a podcast. They are our recorded phone conversations that you have the opportunity to eavesdrop on, so to speak. They all begin abruptly in the middle of the conversation as though you have just stepped into the room.
My greatest concern is that if we wrongly believe forgiveness requires us to minimize the harms we suffer, this mistaken belief will be a barrier to developing a forgiving heart. It is okay to recognize how grave a sin is and to demand our right to justice—if our recognition triggers gratitude for the Atonement. Indeed, the greater the sin against us—the greater the harm we suffer—the more we should value the Atonement.