If you want to forgive, I think you also need to ask for fairness. Then see how receptive your partner is to this call for justice. If you forgive first from your heart, then how you ask for justice likely will be more gentle than if you do so with deep anger. As we both know, it is important that your partner then see your pain and respond in a reasonable way to you.
Anger at first when you are treated unjustly is reasonable because you are seeing that you are a person who deserves respect. Yet, where do you draw the line? When is this early anger sufficient? Do you want to keep the anger for a month? A year? How about 30 years? Also, what about the intensity of the anger. Do you want to be fuming inside for those 30 years? Do you think you will feel empowered if you live this way or could it wear you down?
I have believed that one does not forgive unless the other person apologizes. You say differently. Can you give me at least 3 reasons why it is ok to forgive someone who does not apologize or even refuses to do so?
Yes, I can give you three reasons as follows: 1) There is no other moral virtue on the planet that has a rule connected to it that someone else must engage in a certain behavior or say certain words before you can engage in that virtue. For example, you can be patient whenever you wish. Also, you can be fair to others no matter the circumstances. Why now is forgiveness the only moral virtue that must not emerge until the other person utters those three words: “I am sorry?”; 2) Your waiting until the other apologizes gives that person tremendous power over you. You could be stuck with harmful resentment or even hatred if the other refuses to let you forgive and be free of this toxic anger; 3) Your free will as a person is hampered if you must await permission from the other (with the words, “I am sorry”) before you can forgive. Here is a fourth reason: Suppose the person passes away before saying the three words. You now are stuck with the resentment with no possibility of releasing that potentially harmful emotion for the rest of your life.
A 54-minute podcast called “How to Move Past Resentment with Dr. Robert Enright, Founder of the International Forgiveness Institute” was released today and is now available free of charge on The Growing Through It Podcast network and major podcast channels.
“When someone wrongs, hurts, or violates us, we get angry,” according to podcast host Jen Arnold. “If we hold on to that anger and resentment it can fester, leading to increased stress, negative emotions, poorer mental health, a weakened immune system, and higher blood pressure. In this podcast, Dr. Enright outlines how can you get past the anger so you can get on with your life.”
The interview with Dr. Enright is episode 23 of the podcast series that Arnold has been taping and airing since last year. The series, she says “offers advice, real conversations, and stories of personal setbacks to help you grow from your challenges.”
Don’t just go through it. Grow through it.
Dr. Enright opens the podcast interview by defining what forgives is and what it’s not (since forgiveness, he says, is so often misunderstood). He goes on to explain what happens when people hold on to resentment before walking listeners through his process for forgiving others and forgiving one’s self as well as how to ask for forgiveness.
Jen Arnold is the founder and CEO of Redesigning Wellness, Inc., a company that offers resilience training to individuals and employee groups. She defines resilience as “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress.” Forgiveness, she adds, is an important component of that adaptation process.
- Listen to the entire podcast interview with Dr. Enright.
- View all The Growing Through It Podcast episodes.
- Visit the Redesigning Wellness website.
I have a friend who says he “transcends the pain” caused by someone else’s injustice. He thinks this “non-feeling” is the endpoint of what forgiveness is. This kind of “non-feeling” does not seem to be forgiveness in my view. What do you think? Is this forgiveness?
Because forgiveness is a process, a person who forgives can move from hatred, to some anger, to very little or no anger. Yet, there is more to the process of forgiveness and this includes moving toward the moral virtue of goodness that includes positive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors toward the one who offended. If your friend thinks that the endpoint of forgiveness is “non-feeling,” then this person is not understanding what the endpoint of forgiveness is. On the other hand, if this person knows the endpoint and is not there yet, then the person definitely is on the path of what forgiveness actually is in its essence.