Archive for August, 2018

Does forgiving require me to abandon my psychological defense mechanisms altogether?  What if in the future I need a little denial to protect myself from intensive anger or anxiety?

To forgive in one context, let us call it Situation A, does require that you reduce the defense mechanisms that prevent you from seeing the depth of your own hurt and anger.  This can be done slowly and gently.

Your having lowered those defense mechanisms in Situation A does not mean that you will have lost your natural ability to have defense mechanisms in the future.  In other words, breaking denial in Situation A does not mean that denial will not operate well in Situation B.  Denial still will need to be slowly lowered in Situation B if that denial is not allowing you to see that you are angry, that the anger is compromising your well-being, and that you need to do something about that anger.

Read more about dealing with defense mechanisms in Forgiveness Is a Choice.

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If you could offer one piece of advice for beginning a conversation about forgiveness, what would you say to the one who wishes to forgive?

A person need not tell others that they are forgiven.  Yet, if you wish to bring this into the open, I first would wait until the other is in a good mood before bringing this up.  I would start gently by saying something like this (presuming that the context is one in which you would like reconciliation): “I respect you and like you.  May I say something about Incident X in which we had that argument?”  I then would not go into any details of Incident X and instead talk of your positive feelings and thoughts relative to forgiving.

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In your book, Forgiveness Is a Choice, you talk about the psychological defense mechanisms.  You say, in one part, that we use the defense mechanisms to hide anger from ourselves.  Yet, is it possible that anger itself is a defense mechanism against disappointment or embarrassment?

Yes, you make a good point.  Anger, indeed, can be a defense mechanism in the form of displacement.  A person displaces an emotion onto another so that the real issue remains hidden.  So, the psychological defense of denial can mask anger; displacement of anger can mask disappointment or embarrassment, as you say.  Both anger and disappointment may need to be addressed in the same person.

Read more about defense mechanisms in Forgiveness Is a Choice.

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How is asking for forgiveness different from apologizing?

To apologize is part of asking for forgiveness but does not constitute the entire process.  Asking for forgiveness includes the development of remorse or inner sorrow.  Then comes repentance or apology.  Finally, there is recompense or trying one’s best to make up for what happened.

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I do not want to forgive my girlfriend, but at the same time I do not want to lose her.  She has asked for forgiveness.  I am now “faking it” with her. I have told her that I forgive her and that all is well, even though it is not.  Do you think I truly can “fake” forgiveness?

I find it interesting that in your last sentence you use the words “truly” and “fake.”  These are contradictions.  I truly think that you cannot fake forgiveness.  Your girlfriend will see this in your behavior, which may include some annoyance or even disrespect.  You obviously have your eye on the theme of forgiving.  Why not give it an actual try?

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