Tagged: “Barriers to Forgiveness”
I have forgiven someone, but I still feel like a victim. I want to grow beyond this view of myself as a victim. What is the next view of myself that you see as usually happening for people?
To see yourself as a victim means that you know you have been wronged. As you are seeing, if you keep this as your identity, then you are seeing yourself in a one-down position in that someone is keeping you down, keeping you under that person’s power. The next step is to see that you are a survivor. You have survived the attempt by others to keep you in a one-down position. The step after that is to see yourself not only as a survivor but also as a thriver. In other words, in your surviving the injustices, you have grown in your humanity, and you are now even better than before. I wish you the best in this journey of growth.
My teenage son is angry, but he is oblivious to this. He does get in trouble in school and with peers, as he bullies them. How can I convince him that he is angry and needs to confront this for his own sake and for the sake of those whom he bullies in school?
A key to breaking the defense mechanism of suppression or repression of the anger is to have a quiet conversation with him in which you go over some of the specific consequences of his anger. Help him to see, in the safety of his relationship with you, that he is getting in trouble in school and is bullying others, making them miserable. Ask him, then, if there is anything inside of him, such as intense anger, that is causing these problems. Eventually, these consequences will have him suffer enough so that he becomes aware of the source of his suffering, which is his anger. From there, you should see if his anger is caused by unjust treatment toward him, in which case his practicing forgiving (specifically toward those who hurt him) may lower that anger.
How can parents recapture a sense of love with their adult children if those parents never showed love as the children were growing up?
This may be an issue of self-forgiveness first so that the parents are seeing their own worth despite their imperfect parenting. Then the parents should consider asking the adult children for forgiveness as the parents now show love (in the parents’ own way and in their own time). This requires both courage and humility and may require much patience on the parents’ part as they wait for the adult children to adjust to the new pattern of love.
A key issue, as the philosopher Joanna North said, is to lower yourself in humility as you forgive. This, then, puts both of you on the same human level in terms of your inherent worth.
If I start to forgive, I have to look back at the past, at what happened to me. I am afraid to do that as it opens up deep emotional wounds. What do you suggest?
When you forgive a person, you focus on the qualities of that person, including the effort to see this person as possessing inherent worth. Yet, you need not go back in your mind and dwell on the unjust event itself. Once you have determined that the actions were unjust, you then can set aside the details of the injustice against you as you forgive. A focus on the event is not the same as focusing on who this one is as a person.