Tagged: “Anger”

I think anger is normal.  You do not seem to think so.  Would you please clarify?

We have to make a distinction between healthy anger and unhealthy anger.  Healthy anger occurs as a short-term reaction to others’ unfairness.  The anger emerges because the one being treated unfairly knows that all people are worthy of respect, even oneself.  Unhealthy anger occurs when the initial reaction of healthy anger does not end, but intensifies and remains in the person’s heart for months or even many years.  At that point, the anger can have quite negative effects on one’s energy, ability to concentrate, and on one’s overall well-being.  Healthy anger is normal.  Unhealthy anger needs attention and amelioration.

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In the past, I used to engage in what the expression is called “killing them with kindness.”  It actually has been my mode of revenge, as I harbored deep anger while faking kindness.  Is it possible to transition from fake kindness to the real thing?

Yes, it definitely is possible to change from a fake kindness to genuine kindness.  We have thinking exercises in which we ask the one who is forgiving to see the struggles in the one who acted unfairly.  Oftentimes, a person who is cruel to others has a history of being abused.  Such an insight within the one who forgives (toward the one who was unfair) is not fostered to excuse the unjust behavior, but instead to see a genuine person, a hurting person, who is engaging in the injustice.  As you begin to see a genuine person, one who has wounds and may be confused and frustrated, then a genuine sense of kindness toward that person can emerge.  It takes time and so please be gently with yourself as you examine the true personhood of the other.

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If someone forgives 18 times, is this person now capable of being a better forgiver than someone who only forgave once?

The ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle, tells us that practice is a key to growing in any moral virtue, whether it is justice or patience or forgiveness.  In my experience, he is correct.  So, in all likelihood, the one who has forgiven many people or the same person many times may be a stronger forgiver than the person who is just beginning the first journey of forgiving.  By “stronger” I mean that this person may be able to forgive more quickly and with better results (feeling better inside and maybe a better relationship with the one who acted unjustly) than the one who is new to the moral virtue of forgiveness.

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You recently asked me how power can help me overcome the anger within.  Well, I will tell you. If I can get back at the one who was ridiculous to me, then I get rid of the anger.  You as a psychologist should know this.  The name of this cleansing is called catharsis, right?

Catharsis or “letting it all out” will not necessarily cleanse your anger in the long run.  Yes, you may feel empowered for a short time, but if the injustice against you is deep, then the internal effects on you can last for many years.  For example, we have worked in a hospice situation in which some of the participants in our forgiveness intervention had been carrying anger within them for over 40 years.  Nothing they had tried cleansed that anger until, 40 years later, they made the choice to forgive.

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