Archive for January, 2022

It seems to me that anger is not always a bad thing. Can’t people be energized by their anger, focus, and attain fairness?

Yes, anger can be part of the motivation for achieving good. Yet, we have to make a distinction between anger within reasonable bounds (the emotion does not disable us, is not extreme) and anger that turns to resentment (a long-lasting and intensive anger that can lead to fatigue, distraction, and even physical complications). If we do not make this distinction, we could slip into resentment and conclude that it is good rather than dangerous in the long-term.

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You talk of release from emotional prison as a person forgives.  Is this the hardest step in the forgiveness process, to be released from that emotional prison of pain and suffering, or do you find that other steps in the forgiveness process are harder?

The answer, of course, will vary from person to person, but we have found that the initial decision to go ahead and forgive can be the hardest part of the forgiveness process because it is taking a step into the unknown (if the person never has tried to forgive in any deep way before). Also, if a person confuses forgiving with reconciling or excusing the behavior, the decision to forgive becomes very difficult because the person is misunderstanding what forgiveness is, seeing it as a weakness.  Once the true definition of forgiveness is clarified, people usually are ready to move forward with the forgiveness process.

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How can a person be assured that upon forgiving, he or she will no longer experience any more negative emotions such as anger?

I think you are expecting too much from the forgiveness process.  As imperfect people, we do experience some left-over anger or sadness and this can rise and fall depending on circumstances (such as a new incident that reminds you of the previous injustice).  Therefore, I would encourage you to lower your standards for having some negative affect.  As long as the negative emotions are not controlling you, but instead you are in control of those emotions, I think you are doing well.

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I think it is so important to foster forgiveness in families.  Children need to learn to forgive.  What advice can you give to parents for this?

Yes, I agree that it is of vital importance that this happen so that we can fortify children against the injustices that likely will occur when they are adults.  Knowing how to forgive can be a protection against the build-up of unhealthy anger.  Here is a link to one of my essays on the Psychology Today website that gives details on how a family can become a forgiving community:

Is Your Family a Forgiving Community?

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