Archive for January, 2021

When a close friend really hurt me deeply I felt attacked mentally, physically, and emotionally. I always felt out of control. I faced humiliation and suffered anxiety. I developed migraine headaches and spent time in the hospital. Their words made me feel worthless. Am I worthless?

You most certainly are not worthless.  Why?  It is because all people are special, unique, and irreplaceable.  There never was a person on this earth quite like you…..and there never will be again.  As with the case of self-esteem or negative feelings toward the self, your thinking sometimes can become too general about who you are relative to the betrayals which you have experienced. You might slowly, and without even noticing it, drift into negative self-statements about who you are as a person. It is time to resurrect the truth: You are a person of worth no matter what, not matter how much pain you have, no matter the condemning statements from others. I urge you to re-read the previous sentence until this new thinking about who you are is solidified and consistent within you.  You….have…..great……worth.

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What do you think is the highest reason to forgive? For example, is the morally highest reason to forgive to preserve my own emotional health in self-care? Is it to help the other person to live a better life?

Those are very good reasons to forgive.  I would say one of the highest reasons to forgive is this: to exercise goodness, particularly love, as an end in and of itself regardless of how others react to your offer of forgiving and whether or not you show immediate psychological improvement.  In other words, to offer love regardless of the consequences seems to me to be a special reason to forgive.

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We have been in this new year for almost a month now. The idea of being happy in the new year is lost on me because of how I have been treated in the past. I am angry. Can you suggest a way for me to truly have hope for a happy new year this time?

We sometimes think that those who hurt us have far more control over us than they actually do. We often measure our happiness or unhappiness by what has happened in the past. My challenge to you today is this: Consider forgiving those who have hurt you, who have hurt your happiness.  Your response of forgiveness now to the one (or ones) who hurt you can set you free from a past influence that has been toxic. Try to measure your happiness by what you will do next (not by what is past). Your next move can be this––to love regardless of what others do to you. I gently urge you to try this and see if your happiness increases.

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I continue to feel much guilt for some of my unjust behaviors toward others. I can’t seem to shake off this guilt. If you could summarize self-forgiveness in a few sentences to help me with that, what would you say?

Here is a summary of self-forgiveness for you: Commit to doing no harm to yourself (for example, better nutrition, more rest and exercise). See yourself with “new eyes.” Yes, you are imperfect, but your strong guilt shows that you now have good intentions toward yourself and toward others whom you might have hurt. You are a person of worth. Try to bear the pain so you do not subvert yourself or even toss that pain to others. Try to be good to yourself as an end in and of itself… and then go to those whom you have offended and seek forgiveness.

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You favor forgiveness education programs in world conflict zones. Yet, haven’t these conflicts gone on and on for centuries in some places? If so, why bother with forgiveness education since the conflicts likely will not end even in these young children’s lifetimes?

You are correct that some people live with injustices that are not likely to end in their lifetime. Even if forgiveness does not completely get rid of all injustices, that forgiveness will heal individuals, families, and communities from the damaging effects of the injustice (deep resentment, hatred, and the resulting anxiety, depression, and hopelessness that too often accompany unsolved injustice). A quest for justice is good and important. Yet, the quest for justice alone in these circumstances can lead to frustration, anger, and the displacement of that anger onto one’s own children and community members, leading to serious psychological compromise. Forgiveness can reverse and prevent these negative effects.

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The Missing Piece to the Peace Puzzle