Archive for April, 2020

My father has a temper and from all I can tell, he learned this from his father.  So, is anger an inherited trait?

By “inherited trait” I am guessing that you are not talking about a fixed biological characteristic, but instead are using that as a metaphor for anger being learned, over and over, across the generations.  If that is what you mean, then yes, I do think that anger can be passed down through the generations and probably can last for centuries.  This is why your insights are so valuable.  You now see this.  I would recommend that you forgive your father for his temper.  Not only may this help your relationship with your father but also be a protection for your own children in the future as you see your vulnerability for passing along the family pattern of anger.

For additional information, see Why Forgive? 

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You talk about seeking support in the forgiveness process.  I have a dilemma about that.  I have a good friend (Friend A) with whom I would like to discuss my forgiveness path toward a different friend (Friend B).  Yet, Friend A and Friend B also are friends.  My question is this: How can I get support from Friend A without revealing that my problem is Friend B?  I ask because I do not want to put Friend A on the spot by having to keep my secret from Friend B.

I recommend that when you talk with Friend A, you do not reveal that the one who hurt you is Friend B.  You can talk specifics of the problem, but not talk any specifics about who was unjust to you. When we write case studies in publications, the editors always ask that we mask certain details so that we do not reveal the identities of those people in the case studies.  You can do the same.  Do not reveal names or specific places where the injustice occurred.  It is reasonable to mask the identity of those whom you are discussing in a situation such as yours.

For additional information, see Learning to Forgive Others.

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Do I have to find a particular kind of meaning after I forgive?

There is no one meaning for you to find once you have forgiven.  Some people find meaning in the forgiveness process itself, as they now highly value it.  Some people find meaning in the revelation about how many people are walking around with emotional wounds.  Others find meaning as they discover what love in its service-to-others sense means.  So, try to find the meaning that seems to fit today with your particular forgiveness journey.

For additional information, see Why Forgive? 

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I started the forgiveness process, but I am stuck on the idea that I might be able to have some compassion for the one who injured me.  This is not possible.  So, am I flunking the forgiveness  test?

You definitely are not “flunking the forgiveness test” if you are unable to feel compassion toward the other.  Please keep in mind the following points: First, forgiveness takes time and so please be gentle with yourself. Second, we are not necessarily in control of our emotions, especially one as delicate as compassion, or a tender suffering along with the other.  Third, please resist trying to force compassion.  It likely will come only with time and the continual practice of forgiving.  This could be many months.  Fourth and finally, you do not have to forgive in its complete sense to have forgiven the person.  Even if you can see his or her mistakes, pain, and confusion, this may be sufficient for your forgiving, at least for now.

For additional information, see Forgiveness Defined. 

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How can one keep motivated to stay with the forgiveness process if it is not working after a few months?

First, please keep in mind that it can take many months to forgive, especially if the injustice was severe and you are deeply hurt.  I recommend that you focus on your strong will.  You probably have had to use that strong will at times in the past, for example, to overcome a soft-tissue injury, or to persevere on a work or school project.  Try to remember one incident of appropriating and persevering in this strong will.  Now apply it to forgiving.  You have a challenge and staying with that challenge by continuing to practice forgiving may lead to even a small improvement in your anger, in your well-being, and possibly even in your relationship with the other person.  Any of these as small improvements might increase your motivation of staying with the forgiveness process.

For additional information, see  The Four Phases of Forgiveness. 

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