Have I truly forgiven if, whenever I am in the presence of the one who hurt me, I feel pain? I do wish the person well, but when I see him, the pain returns.

There is a difference between pain and unhealthy anger in which you hope that the other suffers.  You say that you wish him well and this is an important part of the forgiveness process.  Please keep in mind that within psychology we have a term called classical conditioning. In classical conditioning, over time we learn to associate certain people or situations with certain emotions.  A mother upon holding her baby feels love.  Classical conditioning links the sight or thought of the baby with love.  In your case, you have linked the person with pain.  You are classically conditioned to this link.  As you try to associate this person who hurt you with wishing him well, a new link will forge—–seeing him and wishing him well.  Be gentle with yourself on this.  Classical conditioning links (such as pain and seeing the one who caused the pain) take time to dissolve.

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Categories: Ask Dr. Forgiveness

1 comment

  1. Anita says:

    I have gone through each step in the process of forgiving my pastor who has resented me for years after a committee I was on came to a decision that was not in accordance with something he really wanted. I have met with him to assure him that I support him and care very much, but every encounter that I have with him, I come away injured again by his curtness towards me and his obvious feelings of hatred for me. I feel like there is no hope, and yet, I really do wish him well and want to have release from this huge burden. Do you have any suggestions of what I can do?


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