One argument states that when someone is hurt by another, it is best to show some resentment because it lets the other know that he or she is being taken seriously. If forgiveness cuts short the resentment process, the forgiver is not taking the other seriously and, therefore, is not respecting the other. Nietzsche (1887) also devised this argument.
We disagree with the basic premise here that forgiveness does not involve resentment. As a person forgives, he or she starts with resentment.
We also disagree that resentment is the exclusive path to respecting. Does a person show little respect if he or she quells the resentment in 1 rather than 2 days? Is a week of resentment better than the 2 days? When is it sufficient to stop resenting so that the other feels respected? Nietzsche offered no answer. If a person perpetuates the resentment, certainly he or she is not respecting the other.
Enright, Robert D.; Fitzgibbons, Richard P.; Forgiveness Therapy (Kindle Locations 5090-5097). American Psychological Association (APA). Kindle Edition.
I am in an unfortunate situation at work. My boss is overbearing to such an extent that I no longer want to work here. Yet, because of my current circumstances, I cannot leave my position. If I seek justice from the boss, I could be fired. So, what do you recommend?
When we forgive, we do not necessarily get the best result of a whole and fair relationship. If you forgive your boss, which I do recommend if you are ready, then at the very least, your resentment can lessen and so your inner world will not be as disrupted as it might have been. The forgiving may help you to have sufficient energy to apply for other positions if this opportunity arises. Even without justice in the workplace, you are taking steps to guard your inner world.
Learn more at What is Forgiveness?
How do I even think about forgiving someone who spreads false rumors about me and continues to do so? Others are being told lies about me and it hurts. I am angry.
Your anger definitely is understandable. You have been betrayed. The fact that you are even thinking about forgiving is a good step. I would recommend two initial approaches. First, commit to doing no harm to the one who is trying to harm you. Second, with this commitment in place, then try to have a conversation with the one who is spreading the rumors. Try to get fairness from this person. In other words, forgive and seek justice at the same time.
Learn more at Why Forgive?
I recently discovered that my wife of 17 years had two affairs in the last 3 years. She would like to reconcile. I came to believe that I should extend compassion to all beings, including my wife, and I would like to forgive her. However, I am not sure I want to take the next step and reconcile. I understand that we are human and everybody makes mistakes, but I feel that I deserve to be respected and treated much better. I think I am respected and treated very well by everybody I know (friends, family, my kids, and my colleagues), except my wife. I also suspect that our values, commitment to truth, and view of morality are very different. I feel that I have to extend compassion to myself as well, and this means that I cannot reconcile. Is this way of thinking a sign that I have not yet forgiven?
Because forgiving and reconciling are not the same, it is possible that you have begun to forgive even if you end up not reconciling. At the same time, your discovery of the affairs is “recent.” Thus, you may still be quite angry and not yet forgiving. I recommend that you take some time to assess your current level of anger toward your wife. If you currently are very angry, this could be clouding your decision regarding to reconcile or not. In other words, you may need some time to process that anger, begin the forgiveness process so that the anger diminishes, and only then ask the important question about reconciliation. If you think that your wife does not share your own sense of morals, this is worth a deep discussion with her prior to making a decision about whether to reconcile. I wish you the best as you work through this challenging issue.
If by addictive you mean the person falls into a pattern that is hard to break, then the answer is yes. People can fall into behaviors that involve temper, harsh language, and an adrenaline rush. People who have this pattern can be helped by seeing what in the past has led to an original anger. If it is an injustice, then forgiveness is appropriate. Next, the person needs to examine any sense of entitlement or even narcissism that fuels the anger and keeps it going. After that, the person needs to examine courageously who has been hurt by the anger-pattern and seek forgiveness from those who have been hurt by the pattern.
Learn more at Learning to Forgive Others.