Archive for June, 2012
When starting to be a forgiver (someone who forgives consistently), try to begin with hurts that are not so large. It is not unlike starting an exercise program. If you try to run 5 miles the first day or to bench press too much weight too soon, you get quite sore, quite discouraged, and may stop exercising. If you start slowly, you build up strength so that you can handle the longer run or the challenging bench press. Start forgiving someone who has not gravely hurt you and work up to those who have.
Learning to forgive oneself is the hardest part because we do not necessarily see how unforgiving we are with ourselves. When we come to this place of total acceptance, then we will come to a place of love, of self and others. It took many years to be able to do this for myself and I discuss this story in my book: Actually, It’s About Love!, sub titled: The Five Steps to Live the Life You Deserve. You can download the first two chapters as my gift to you when you visit the website: actuallyitsaboutlove.com.
When we forgive, we tend to let go of most or sometimes all of our anger. When we let go of our anger we do not necessarily forgive. For example, we can let go of anger and dismiss a person as unworthy of our respect or love. Forgiveness, on the other hand, strives to respect and love those who have hurt us. Forgiveness never condemns a person for an unjust act. At the same time, forgiveness does acknowledge unjust acts as wrong.
When I was 16 I got pregnant to my 21 year old boyfriend and since the beginning my parents and family prohibited me to see him. I always had a grudge on them for being the reason my daughter ,now 3, doesn’t have a father figure in her life. I was previously under alot of emotional stress where I became suicidal and thank god I’m fine now but I still have that anger and grudge feeling, how can I her rid of it because I know that all they’ve done was be supportive but I don’t know how to forgive them.
First, I am sorry for your difficulties with your parents. This has been very hard on you. You are seeing that your parents and you have had different values regarding your seeing the father of your child. A key here is to see that both of you have good reasons for your decisions. In your case, you wanted your daughter to have a father. In your parents’ case, they wanted to protect you. Your decision to forgive them is a good one because, as you know, your intention to have a father for your daughter is an honorable intention.
This decision to forgive is courageous and it may take some time. We have a step-by-step process for forgiving that is described in my new book, The Forgiving Life. Because you are raising a child alone, I would like to send you a free copy of that book. If you feel comfortable doing so, please leave your mailing address with our director (firstname.lastname@example.org). I will see to it personally that you receive the free copy of the book. As you read it, please ask questions here and we will help you.
Thank you for your courage.
While in Northern Ireland last week, I gave two invited talks on the topic of forgiveness in the context of a loved-one’s suicide. Suicide, especially among young-adult males, is a serious and growing problem there. I made the point that there are at least four scenarios with moral import surrounding this issue:
1) Some people who have lost loved ones in this way will reason that suicide is not immoral. Therefore, they will see no need to forgive because no injustice occurred;
2) Some people who have lost loved ones in this way will say that suicide is not immoral, but they are most likely in denial because their reasoning is not clear and their emotions are raw and angry;
3) Some will say that suicide is always wrong because it is always wrong to take an innocent life, including one’s own;
4) Some will say that the act of suicide itself is not morally wrong, but the consequences of doing so are wrong because those left behind have had love taken from them.
My linking forgiveness with suicide will have direct relevance for those in situations 2-4, but not in situation 1 above. Those in situation 2 might get very angry at me (and some did) for even mentioning the issue of morality and forgiveness in the context of suicide because they harbor worry (about the loved one’s eternal salvation, as an example) and they may harbor some guilt (in that they did not do enough to prevent it). People in this situation 2 want to distance themselves from the worry and/or the guilt. A talk on forgiveness and suicide does not help them to distance from these issues.
Those in situations 3 and 4 tend to seek relief for their own bitterness and anger. They are often angry at the deceased and they can be angry at others who did not do more to help. They also can be angry with themselves for a number of reasons, including their extreme emotions such as hatred or their reasoning that they could have done more. In these cases, it seems that it is worth hypothesizing that forgiveness education and therapy could be helpful in restoring emotional well-being.
What I found interesting is that some (a rare few) in situation 2 were adamant against my speaking at all about this topic. They were offended by the talk. It is as if I have no right to speak about a link between suicide and forgiveness and no one else has a right to hear about it or to work in a psychological sense on their own emotions.
So, here is my recommendation. Let us respect each person as a person and let us respect each one’s choice to hear or not to hear such information. Some will choose not to hear, but they should not condemn those who do. Some will choose to hear, but they should not condemn those who wish not to hear.
This is an important and sensitive area. We must move forward to help those who seek help through forgiveness and we must do so with gentleness and respect for all.