Archive for March, 2022

Do you think forgiveness could be set aside for the vast majority of people if most never reacted with unhealthy anger or resentment?

Forgiving others is not done exclusively because it has excellent psychological benefits, shown by research.  Forgiving others also is good in and of itself because it is a moral virtue (as are justice and kindness and respect).  Showing goodness as the goal of forgiving (rather than deriving a psychological benefit) is sufficient for forgiveness to be a part of your and otherslife.  To address your point directly, as we both know, reacting to injustices only with temperate, short-term (not unhealthy) anger is not likely as part of the human condition.  Thus, the need for forgiveness, for psychological reasons, will continue to be alive and well on this earth.

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In your process of forgiveness (page 2 of Forgiveness Is a Choice), you say that forgetting what happened to the forgiver is unhealthy.  Yet, it seems to me that, once a person forgives, it is healthy to move on and just “forget about it.”  Would you please clarify your position for me?

There are at least two different meanings to the term “to forget.”  The first one, which I see as unhealthy, is to suppress the knowledge that the other is a danger to you.  It is important to remember that some people are not “on our side.”  The second meaning of the term “to forgive” is to move on, as you say.  So, you can move on from a situation while you see the humanity in the other (as you choose to forgive).  As you see the humanity in the other, it is important to acknowledge the other’s weaknesses if the person still has a pattern of behavior that is hurtful to you.

Forgiveness Is a Choice, Dr. Robert Enright.

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I am having difficulty with a former partner.  I have forgiven him (he asked me to forgive and I have).  I cannot go back to that situation because I really cannot trust him.  He keeps telling me that I have not forgiven.  If I genuinely have forgiven, he insists, then I would take him back.  How should I respond?

With a gentle and forgiving heart, you can discuss with him the difference between what forgiveness is (a moral virtue in which you are good to those who have been unfair to you) and reconciliation (which is not a moral virtue, but instead is a negotiation strategy in which two or more people come together again in mutual trust).  Again, with gentleness, you can point out that your trust has been deeply hurt by his actions and so you can offer forgiveness, but not reconciliation.  If he does not accept this or says anything hurtful to you about this, then this is another situation in which you can forgive.

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My area of study is cross-cultural differences.  In some cultures, it is considered inappropriate to “give a gift” (as you suggest in your forgiveness process).  It is considered inappropriate because such gift-giving is seen as a sign of superiority.  So, might it be best to skip this step in your forgiveness model for some cultures?

In such cultures, as you say, it is best to give the gift in ways that respect the norms of the culture.  One need not give a gift within a box all wrapped up in gift-wrap and a bow.  One can be more subtle about it:  a smile, paying respectful attention to the other, not speaking badly to other people about the one who hurt you.  A gift is a generous and often unexpected kindness which can be done tastefully by knowing the norms of a given culture.

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I have to admit that I am growing disgusted with social media.  The anger that is expressed there is inhumane.  What do you suggest as a way to start reducing this kind of expressed anger?

If more students have forgiveness education when they are young, then this will give them a chance to more deeply see the inherent (built-in) worth of others.  As we see that all people are special, unique, and irreplaceable, I truly think that deliberately hurtful verbal attacks on others will lessen.

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The Missing Piece to the Peace Puzzle

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