Ask Dr. Forgiveness

You talk in your books of a “global perspective” in which a person strives to see the common humanity between the self and the offending other. If a person were to practice the global perspective with most people whom she meets on a daily basis, would this help the person to forgive when it is time to apply this perspective to someone who was cruel?

Yes, this kind of practice on those who have done nothing wrong can be good practice for the time in which there is injustice and pain and anger.  Taking the global perspective with others who are not harmful will not lead to an automatic forgiving (toward those who are unfair to you), but it could make the starting of the process easier.  It could make the cognitive understanding of the offending other easier as well.

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I am not angry at the one who was unfair to me. I am in pain. You talk mostly about anger and I am wondering if maybe you have missed something here.

I agree with you that pain occurs after being treated unjustly.  I think the sequence is as follows: 1) Someone is unfair to you; 2) Next comes shock or even denial; 3)  Then comes pain, as you describe; 4)  If the pain does not lessen or if you have no effective way of reducing and eliminating the pain, then you may become angry.

That anger can be at the person for acting unfairly, or at the situation, or even at the pain itself that resulted from the unfair treatment.  It is the anger, if it abides and deepens, that can lead to health problems (fatigue, anxiety, and so forth).  So, I emphasize anger within Forgiveness Therapy because it, in the form of excessive anger or resentment, can be dangerous to health, relationships, and communities.

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Is anger really all that bad to have? I find that it energizes me.

We need to distinguish between healthy anger the kind, as you say, that energizes you, and excessive or toxic anger that lasts too long and is too deep.  If your anger is not bringing you down, and if it energizes you, then you are right.  The anger is not bad, especially if it does not prohibit you from considering forgiveness.

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If I commit to do no harm to the other person who hurt me, but if I deliberately harbor anger inside, thus probably hurting myself, is this true forgiveness?

It is not a completed forgiveness, but you likely are in the process of forgiving.  You need to realize that as you forgive, you may have some anger left over.  Even if you deliberately are harboring anger, and if you have decided to do no harm, then you are in an early phase of forgiving, probably the Decision Phase.

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