Archive for April, 2019

I worry about introducing forgiveness into my school. I am a principal. Suppose we start introducing your forgiveness curricula in first grade (age 6). Might we inadvertently be putting pressure on the children to forgive, in essence forcing them to forgive before they are ready?

Part of good forgiveness education is to be sure that the students know this: Forgiveness is a choice and never should be forced upon anyone. We try very hard in our forgiveness curriculum guides for teachers to make it clear that children should be drawn to forgiveness because they see its beauty and importance, not pressured to do so. Good forgiveness education will not pressure students. Once they understand what forgiveness is by seeing story characters struggle with this, then they can better make their own decisions whether or not to forgive someone in their own lives who have hurt them.

Learn more about Forgiveness Education for Children at: Curriculum.

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If I practice forgiveness a lot, will I become faster at reaching an endpoint of forgiving, or will this depend on the severity of the injustice against me?

In my own experience with others, I see that as people practice forgiveness, they actually do become what I call “expert forgivers” in that they forgive more quickly and more deeply than was the case in the past. At the same time, if the current injustice is severe, this will take longer to forgive the one who perpetrated this severe injustice. Even if it takes you longer now to forgive people for recent severe injustices against you, the length of your forgiving still likely will be shorter than it might have been years ago, when you were just starting to learn about forgiveness.

For additional information, see The Forgiving Life.

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Is there a difference between calming my mind and forgiving?

Yes, there is a difference between the two. Calming the mind is not a moral virtue. Forgiving is a moral virtue, which means that the focus of forgiving actually is on the one who offended, not on the self. As you forgive, you begin to think about this other person in new ways, to feel softer feelings toward this person, and to behave in a way that is civil and not hurtful. When you calm your mind you could be ignoring the other, putting the other out of your mind. Of course, this does not always happen when you calm your mind, but it can happen. Thus, calming the mind does not necessarily lend itself to a focus on the other, and in a positive way, as forgiveness does.

For additional information, see What is Forgiveness?

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I have been taught to forgive since I was a child. I think I am pretty good at it now. Recently, I have hit a road block and I just can’t seem to forgive a particular person. Given all of my experience with forgiving, since childhood, I am perplexed about my inability to forgive now. Help!

Because you have not described the current injustice, I am not able to say for sure, but I do have this question for you: How severe is the current injustice relative to all others you have faced in your life? If it is very severe, then please note that your forgiving this particular person may take more time and effort. This is ok. It does not mean that you are unforgiving. Please note that forgiveness is a process that can take months if the injustice is severe and if it is recent. Try to take the time to examine this person from what I call the personal, global, and cosmic perspectives in the book, Forgiveness Is a Choice. Taking time with these perspectives may help you in moving forward with your forgiveness of this person.

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To my way of thinking, forgiveness is this: You have a trauma. You then admit that you were traumatized. You then enter directly into conflict with the trauma, and reconstruct the trauma in your own mind. What do you think about this?

While your description may be part of what forgiveness is, I do think there is more to it than only this. When you forgive, your focus is not directly on the trauma. The focus is on the person who created the trauma. You can “reconstruct” a trauma in many ways that are not forgiveness. For example, you could say, “Well, in thinking about the trauma, it really was not so bad after all.” You have “reconstructed” the trauma, but this is not forgiveness because, when you forgive, you know that what happened to you was wrong, is wrong, and always will be wrong. You do not “reconstruct” what happened as “not so bad.” Thus, while you may remember the trauma—the event—in new ways when you forgive, you actually “reconstruct” who the other person is by struggling to see his or her humanity, his or her inherent (built-in) worth. As you reconstruct the person and see a truly full human being who is more than unjust behaviors, then you are in the process of forgiving.

For additional information, see: What is Forgiveness?

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