Archive for August, 2023
When I try to forgive my partner, and look into his past, I sometimes get angrier than before. I say to myself, “What am I doing!?” In other words, I still see the other’s behavior as unacceptable and this makes me angry. What do you suggest?
When you look toward the person’s past, do you slip into the error of excusing what the other did? If you see that you are trying to excuse, that could make you angrier. After all, past hurts are no excuse to hurt others. If you can resist excusing and from a position of truly calling the other’s behavior wrong, what happens in your emotions when you see a wounded person, a confused person, perhaps a person manipulated or mistreated in other ways by important people in his or her life? Does this stir in you a little compassion, as long as you resist the conclusion that he or she just couldn’t help it?
I have forgiven my ex-partner. She does not want to reconcile. I want to reconcile. So, I keep forgiving in the hope of reconciliation. Is it ok to forgive with my goal of a possible reconciliation?
Yes, you can offer overtures of forgiving from a distance, but please be careful that you do not use forgiving as a manipulation of the other’s feelings. When you forgive, try to make the motivation the other’s well-being. Try to forgive for the other and not for what you can get out of this. Respect the other’s decisions for now. In other words, as you forgive, you have the other’s best interest at heart and if she does not want to reconcile right now, part of your task is to accept this. Be open to the possibility of a reconciliation, but try also not to push too hard at that reconciliation.
I think I have forgiven my partner for certain insensitive comments. Yet, whenever this topic arises again, I find that I get angry all over again. Does this mean I have not forgiven?
It depends on your level of anger when the situation is mentioned again. Do you get very angry? On a 1 to 10 scale, are you up near the 9 and 10 range, or is the anger more manageable, say, in the 3 or 4 range? It is common to have some anger left over when we have forgiven, but that anger no longer controls us. So, if you are in control of the anger and its intensity is not high, then yes, I do think that you have forgiven.
“Just letting out” your anger is known as catharsis. It can temporarily lead to some relief of the anger, but if this is your exclusive path for dealing with anger, you could, without realizing it is happening, make this letting-out a habit and this can intensify anger. Forgiveness, in contrast, softens the anger as you reach out in mercy to the one(s) who hurt you. Forgiveness offers a cure for the anger whereas catharsis does not.
My friend recently told me that she approached her partner, telling him that she is forgiving him for her own sake, and not for his. Is this true forgiveness?
It seems to me that your friend is using forgiveness in this case as a weapon against her partner. Her statement to him is implying that she is concerned about herself as a person, not about him as a person. True forgiveness acknowledges the personhood in the other person and offers compassion and kindness, which does not seem to be occurring in the scenario you describe.