Archive for February, 2020

I have a problem with this whole idea of forgiveness.  Forgiveness asks me to “just move on” or to “leave it in the past.”  How can I “leave it in the past” when it is constantly  nipping at my heals and the memories just won’t leave me alone?

Forgiveness is not just moving on or leaving something in the past.  As a moral virtue, forgiveness is focused on goodness toward particular persons, those who have been unjust to you.  As you forgive, you begin changing your view of that person and so this memory of “nipping at your heals” lessens.  Without this paradox of struggling to be good to those who were not good to you, it is very difficult to “leave it in the past.” Forgiving allows you to move into the future without that burden of continual unfinished business.

For additional information, see  The Four Phases of Forgiveness. 

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My partner forgives me.  I cannot forgive myself.  I now am feeling guilty that I cannot let myself off of that emotional hook after my partner has taken the time and trouble to forgive.  What do I do now?

It is not unusual for a person to not let the self “off of the emotional hook” even after knowing that the other forgives.  Why?  It is because we tend to be harder on ourselves than we are on others.  So, I recommend chapter 7 on self-forgiveness from my book, 8 Keys to Forgiveness.

For additional information, see Self-Forgiveness.

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In your intervention research, have you ever encountered a person who was made decidedly worse when going through the forgiveness process?

In our scientific studies, we have not seen any dramatic examples of people becoming decidedly worse once they willingly start the forgiveness process.  Some people do not change their levels of anger, anxiety, depression, or self-esteem.  This often is the case because the person has not spent enough time in the process and needs more of that time to effect the desired psychological change.  We have not encountered anyone, in a wide variety of settings (incest survivors, people in drug rehabilitation, people in maximum-security prison), who becomes more enraged as a result of truly being engaged in the forgiveness process.

For additional information, see Forgiveness Research. 

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My spouse says that I am an angry person.  She is correct, but I cannot recall anyone in particular who treated me unfairly.  So, what’s up with my anger?

You might have what is called repressed memories in that you are in denial about some injustices from your past.  Sometimes, we so respect our parents, for example, that it is hard to admit unjust treatment from them.  See if this might fit your own case.  At the same time, it can be the case that you are angry because you reason that the world owes you a lot more than is reasonable.  In this case, you might have some narcissistic tendencies (a me-first mind set).  This can be hard to admit because narcissism exalts the self.  It takes the moral virtue of humility to see the narcissism and to willingly change the pattern.

For additional information, see The Four Phases of Forgiveness. 

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