Archive for October, 2021
I don’t get it. Why does the forgiveness process involve the victim trying to see the woundedness in the one who acted wrongly? So what if that person was treated badly by others. How does that take away my inner torment?
The point of seeing the woundedness in the other, if those wounds exist, is to slowly start to engender some empathy and compassion in you for that person. In other words, the point is to see a person who is more than the injustices against you. Your seeing the other’s wounds can be a first step in your softening your heart toward that person.
What do you see as the most common misconception about what forgiving is?
I think right now the mot common misconception is this: When I forgive I try to “move on” from the hurtful situation. As I move on, then the inner pain may lessen. Yet, in my experience with others, no matter how far you try to run from the pain, it runs even faster than you. So, if you try to run from the pain for two weeks, as you stop to rest, there is the pain right beside you asking the question, “What do you want to do now? Shall we reflect even more on me, the pain, now?” Forgiveness is not a moving on from the pain, but instead is a moral virtue of offering good toward the offending other person. The paradox is this: As you engage in goodness toward that other person, it is you who is healed.
What is the difference between genuine guilt and false guilt?
False guilt occurs when you have not broken your own moral standards. For example, suppose you have to meet someone soon and you forget your car keys, necessitating that you go back into your home, find your keys, get the keys, and now you are late for the meeting. You did not intentionally try to be late for that meeting. You made an error and did not willingly break a standard of honoring the other person. Your acceptance of imperfection may be in order, but to deeply blame the self would be excessive and therefore in all likelihood is false guilt. Genuine guilt occurs when you have broken your moral standards and now you are feeling guilty until you make amends. As a final point here, sometimes unintentional errors can be serious enough to warrant guilt. For example, if you are driving in your car and texting on your phone at the same time, resulting in an accident, you should have been paying more attention to the driving. In that case, even without an intention to do wrong, the guilt would be genuine.
Can you suggest at least one very effective way to motivate a person to start the forgiveness process?
I find that a person’s internal, emotional pain is a strong motivator to at lease consider forgiveness as a healing strategy. If the person has tried many different approaches, and none of them has led to significant relief, then a person often is ready to give forgiveness a try.
I have post-traumatic stress. Is it better to treat the symptoms, such as sleeplessness, first or to forgive first?
The answer depends on the symptoms of the post-traumatic stress. Because you have sleep challenges, these should be addressed first. If, instead, another person has some anger or sadness and these are not impinging on the person’s everyday life, then forgiving first can lessen these symptoms. The regulation of symptoms and forgiving can complement one another. For example, once your sleep pattern is regulated, your forgiving may help in establishing a regular sleep cycle. As the sleep cycle regulates, you may have more energy and focus to forgive well.