Archive for January, 2022

How do we know when the anger inside is unhealthy?

Here are some questions you can ask yourself, the answers to which will help you see whether or not the anger is unhealthy or not:

1). How much anger do you have inside on a 1 to 10 scale, ranging from 1 (no anger) to 10 (an extreme amount of anger)?  A score in the 7 to 10 range is worth noting.

2). How often do you have this anger?  If you have it for much of the day for most days and this has lasted for weeks or months, then this is worth noting.

3). Do you have difficulty concentrating on tasks which you need to complete on any given day?  If so, how often is this happening? Again, if this occurs on most days, this is worth noting.

4). Does your anger interfere with your sleep?

5). Does the anger interfere with your energy level in that you are tired more often than you should be?

6). Is the anger interfering with your happiness in life?

If your answer is yes to questions 4 through 6, and if your anger is abiding in you, as seen in questions 1 through 3, then you should consider the probability that your anger is in need of correction.  If you have been treated unjustly by other people, then forgiveness may be a good way of regulating this unhealthy anger.

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Which do you think is more effective as a treatment for anger: relaxation training or forgiveness and why?

Forgiveness is appropriate if the person is angry because of injustices suffered from those who have treated the person unjustly.  If this is the case, then I would choose forgiveness over relaxation, if I had to choose only one of these.  I would do so for this reason:  If we are deeply angry or frustrated or sad inside because of another person’s unfairness, these emotions are not easily eliminated by relaxation because relaxation treats the symptoms and not the underlying cause of the challenging emotions.  Once a person stops relaxing, the challenging emotions likely will re-emerge.  In contrast, forgiveness focuses on the cause of these emotions—the unjust treatment by a person—and the forgiveness process helps the emotionally wounded person to have a new response toward that person which tends to reduce these emotions to more manageable levels over time.  In other words, as the forgiver thinks about the one who offended, the challenging emotions will have been reduced toward the offending person and so healing occurs.  With relaxation training, there is no attempt to directly alter one’s emotions toward an offending other person.

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How can a person go about finding out how angry he is?  What does this process look like?

There are at least two steps to uncovering anger.  The first is to look within and to rate what you see for now as your level of anger.  This can be done either by filling out a valid anger scale or more simply by using the 1 to 10 scale of pain that you typically see in a doctor’s office.  That 1 to 10 scale ranges from no anger inside at all (rated 1), to a medium amount of anger (rated 5), to an extreme amount of anger that is very painful (rated 10).

Once a person makes a judgement about the anger, a next step is to discuss how forgiving those who have hurt you can lessen anger.  Once you are convinced that forgiveness can help you, this becomes a kind of safety net for you.  This safety net then can help you to let down your psychological defenses about how angry you really are.  At this point, you can re-take the valid anger scale or again go through the 1 to 10 scale exercise.  At this point, people tend to admit even more anger than they did the first time because they now are not afraid of that anger, afraid that there is no solution to that anger.  From here, the process of forgiveness begins.

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How do I overcome a sense of self-loathing?  I do not like myself for my past behaviors.

I would recommend that you begin to practice self-forgiveness, which should reduce that sense of self-condemnation or self-loathing.  I actually have an essay at the Psychology Today website with a title that includes those exact words, self-loathing.  The essay gives you advice on beginning the self-forgiveness process.  Here is a link to that essay:

The Cure to Self-Loathing? Self-Forgiveness

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How does the issue of repressed memory fit into the forgiveness process?  In other words, if I cannot remember abuse against me from my childhood, then how can I even consider the forgiveness process?

Repression is a defense against being overwhelmed by our feelings.  This can be a protection for our mental health, at least in the short run.  Yet, if the repression is so strong as to prevent an awareness of past trauma, so that the trauma cannot be uncovered and healed, then it can work against one’s psychological well-being.  A key issue is this:  Trauma that is deep and not uncovered can lead to symptoms in the present such as a lack of trust in others and/or anxiety.  If a person presents with such issue of mistrust or anxiety, it can be helpful first to let the person know that there is a scientifically-supported approach to confronting any past trauma, if this happened in the person’s life, and experiencing healing from that trauma.  That approach is Forgiveness Therapy.  This can help people let down their psychological defenses, which then can lead to insight from the past, and this then can be the beginning of psychological healing through forgiveness, if the person chooses to forgive.

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