New Ideas

What Is The “Ask Dr. Forgiveness” Section of Our Blog?

Some people have begun to ask about the section of our blog entitled, “Ask Dr. Forgiveness.”  This was started because of questions we would get from people who are curious about a particular aspect of forgiveness.

We get these questions from all over the world and try to answer them in a timely fashion.  We never identify the name of the person asking.

The questions, as you will see if you visit this section, are very wide-ranging and can be a way for you, the reader, to deepen your views of forgiveness.

You also should feel free to disagree and to offer commentary if you wish.

Please feel free to ask a question for Ask Dr. Forgiveness.  It could prove to be of considerable worth to others.

Robert 

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Spring Cleaning for Your Wounded Heart

…….if when you look inside, you are tired;

…….if when you look inside you do not like yourself anymore;

…….if when you look inside you find rust where you used to see sparkle;

…….if when you look inside you no longer find hope…….

Please know this…….

Forgiveness is your energizer;.

Forgiveness is your self-esteem bolster;.

Forgiveness is your emotional rust-inhibitor;.

Forgiveness gives you hope.

Come, together, let us do some spring cleaning of your heart.

The first step is this: Commit to forgiving, to reducing resentment and offering goodness toward those who have cluttered the rooms of your heart.

The second step is this: Commit to doing no harm to those who have soiled your inner world and did not stay around long enough to clean up after themselves.

Forgiveness will be your servant. Forgiveness will make tidy the rooms of your heart.

Robert

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On the Importance of Perseverance when Forgiving

Many people get quite excited about forgiveness at first and just dive into practicing it, only to lose interest after a few months.  They literally just let it fade from their minds and hearts as they go on to the next popular diversion in life.  In other words, they do not have a strong will to keep forgiveness before them as a practice and as a way of seeing the world.

This could happen to you.  A commitment to forgive does not just mean a short-term commitment toward one person who has hurt you in one particular way.  Commitment has a much longer reach than this.  Would you become physically fit if you worked out several times a week for three months and then hung it all up?  Of course not.  It is the same with forgiveness.  You have to fight against the tendency to just let it fade in you.  You will have to fight against all of the distractions of life that call you away from it.

Robert

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Forgiveness can change the world — and YOU

From Dr. Robert Enright –

“I come to you today with an idea.  Ideas can lift up or tear down.  They can be conduits for good or for great evil.  Having studied the idea of forgiveness for the past 33 years, I am convinced that to date, the world has missed one of its greatest opportunities: to understand, nurture, and bring forth the idea of forgiveness within the human heart, within families, schools, workplaces, houses of worship, communities, nations, and between nations.

“Given the scientifically-supported findings across a wide array of hurting people across the globe, it is now obvious to me that forgiveness is an answer to the darkness, the injustice, the evil that can suddenly cascade down upon a person, overwhelming, devastating the inner world of that person who is caught off guard by the unfair treatment. When this happens, resentment can burst forth in the human heart, grow there, and become the unwanted guest that sours outlooks and relationships.
Resentments destroy; forgiveness builds up.

“Forgiveness is the strongest response against the ravages of resentment that I have ever seen. Forgiveness as an insight that all people have worth can stop the march of the madness, the cruelty, the acrimony dead in their tracks.  Forgiveness as a free choice to offer goodness when others refuse to offer it back can shine a light in the darkness and destroy evil. Yes, forgiveness can destroy evil because the light of forgiveness is stronger than any darkness and while some scoff and laugh at that, those who have the courage to try tell me that forgiveness is the over-comer, the defeater of a life being lived with bitterness and revenge-seeking.

“Forgiveness is an answer to injustice.  Forgiveness is a cure for the potentially devastating effects of injustice.  Forgiveness holds out the hope of living with joy.” 

Forgiveness can change the world–and YOU. How will you now contribute to this new idea? Read the rest of Dr. Enright’s “big picture” blog essay in the current issue of Psychology Today then send us your comments.

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How Does Forgiveness Differ from Ghandi’s Nonviolent Resistance?

I heard a talk recently in which– it was stated that Mahatma Ghandi’s nonviolent resistance to injustice is equivalent to forgiving.  The point is that forgiveness is not passive but stands up to evil in a merciful way.  While there are some convergences between nonviolent resistance and forgiveness, I think that they are in essence different.  Here are at least three ways in which they are not the same:

First, Ghandi’s approach, as well the approach of others who followed, such as Martin Luther King, Jr., is centered on a quest for justice.  They want an unfair situation changed.  Thus, nonviolent resistance in its essence is a justice strategy, as is the call for negotiation, dialogue, arms limitation, and other approaches of seeking fairness.

In contrast, forgiveness in its essence is a moral virtue centered in mercy and love.  The primary goal of forgiveness is not the seeking of fairness, but instead to unconditionally love another or others, not because of what they have done, but in spite of this.  To be fair to forgiveness, it is not the case that forgiveness abandons the quest for justice.  Instead, people can and should bring justice alongside forgiving.  When they do so, we must be clear that the offer of forgiving is different from the request for a fair solution.

Second, when a person or group practices nonviolent resistance, forgiveness likely would aid this strategy because it quells resentment which could spill over to hatred and actions of hatred which would destroy the nonviolent strategy.  Forgiveness in this case is a secondary issue, not the primary one.  Justice-seeking is the primary issue.  In contrast, justice-seeking is an aid to forgiving so that the forgiver does not become weak or even abused by others’ continual injustices. Justice in this case is a secondary issue, not the primary one.  Unconditional love toward an offending person is the primary issue.

Third, while the virtue of love may be at the center of non-violent resistance, and certainly was the case for Martin Luther King, Jr. as seen in his soaring volume, Strength to Love, it need not be at the center for all who practice the nonviolence.  Perseverance might be the center for some, justice-seeking no matter what the consequence may be at the center for others, while loving one’s enemy may take center-stage for others.  The action itself (nonviolence) and keeping one’s eye on the goal (social change) can lead to different virtues dominating a given person’s thinking and acting.  In contrast, the virtue of love is always at the center of forgiving even if the forgiver never reaches this depth of understanding and practicing forgiving.

Nonviolent resistance and forgiveness share the following in common:

First, each is unconditional in that, no matter what the other does to thwart the practice, the forgiver and the nonviolent resister stand firm in their decision to either forgive or resist.  The others’ blows to the head did not deter Gandhi.  The other’s refusal to apologize or make restitution does not deter the forgiver, who may or may not reconcile depending on the degree of unfairness and the extent of any abuse.  The forgiver stands unconditionally in the offer of goodness toward those who are not being good to the forgiver.

Second, both have moral virtue at their center.

Third, each can effect social change as the one forgiven, for example, now sees the injustice, feels remorse, repents, and changes.  Nonviolent resistance historically has been shown to effect such change as the consciences of the powerful can be deeply affected as they continue their unjust ways in the face of the others’ peace.

Nonviolent resistance and forgiveness share commonalities, but they are not the same.  We need clarity when engaging in each so that they move forward well and with a deep understanding about what the forgiver or resister actually is doing.

Robert

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VOLUNTEERS NEEDED FOR RESEARCH PROJECT

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