Archive for July, 2021

What questions can I ask myself to determine whether or not I have been treated unjustly?

I would recommend these questions to ask yourself:

Does your conscience convince you that what the other did was wrong?

If so, try to label what was unjust.  Then try to label the extent of the injustice — Is it a minor issue or a more serious issue?

Further, ask yourself this: Am I denying my own part in this?  In other words, did I push this person to anger?  This does not justify harsh behavior on the part of the other, but it may reduce the degree to which you label the behavior as deeply unjust or not.

Still further, are you denying the culpability on the part of the other?  In other words, sometimes we enable bad behavior by not wanting to confront the person or challenge the person to change.  Is this happening to you?  If so, then perhaps the injustice is more serious than you are admitting right  now.

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I am a mental health professional.  Some people want a quicker fix than what your Process Model offers.  Can you recommend a brief therapy instead?

Because forgiveness is a moral virtue, it is not possible to artificially push it into a traditional psychological set of techniques that might lead to quick forgiveness.  If the injustice is serious against your client and the hurt deep within that client, then time and practice definitely are recommended. It will be worth the effort because we find that traditional psychological techniques are not a substitute for a true struggle to grow in this heroic moral virtue.  A meta-analysis by Aktar and Barlow show statistically that longer periods of time in forgiving (12 and even more sessions) are more effective than short-term therapy of 4-6 sessions.  Here is a reference to that meta-analysis:

Akhtar, S., & Barlow, J. (2018). Forgiveness therapy for the promotion of mental well-being: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 19(1), 107-122.

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Is indifference toward the person who hurt me considered something negative in the forgiveness process?  I am feeling indifferent.  In the past, the feeling was much more negative than this.

Indifference is not a moral virtue and so it is not what forgiveness is. Yet, feeling indifference may be a transition out of hatred.  If you had deep anger or hatred and now you are indifferent toward the one who hurt you, then you are making progress in forgiving. There is more to your forgiveness journey than this.  Why?  It is because the one who hurt you is a person and all persons can be treated with kindness, respect, generosity, and even love.  So, I urge you to stay on your important forgiveness journey.  Please be encouraged because it seems that you are making progress.

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What is the difference between acknowledging the pain and bearing the pain?

Acknowledgement is insight only: I realize that I am in pain.  Bearing the pain, in contrast, is an active approach of not only understanding that you are in pain but also taking an active role in standing up with the pain and deliberately committing to not passing it back to the one who hurt you or to not passing it onto unsuspecting others.  So, one is passive in terms of not doing something about the pain (acknowledgement) and the other is active (bearing the pain).

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