Tagged: “Dr. Robert Enright”
My partner and I have quite different political views. I respect his position, but he definitely does not respect mine. We argue a lot. My question to you: How can I forgive him when he is so aggressive about political matters?
I think you need to talk with him about what it means to be a person. Are people more than their political positions? If so, what is this “more” that goes beyond the political? Does he see these other important qualities in you? I think he needs to broaden his perspective that human beings in their importance transcend politics. This is not easy to learn and so he and you will have to work on this more transcendent perspective. As you forgive, try to see these larger human qualities in your partner. Such a wider perspective likely will help you in the forgiveness process.
For additional information, see Forgiveness for Couples.
My mother refuses to accept my forgiveness. I am an adult who lives away from home now. She denies any neglect even though both my brother and I carry scars from her inattention when we were growing up. My brother and I carefully have examined this issue and we are in agreement about the unfairness. How do we get my mother to see this?
It seems that your mother is in denial about what happened. Such a psychological defense mechanism can be hard to change. Your mother may need time on this. If she sees your support and unconditional love, then this may help reduce the denial. When she sees and experiences your unconditional love try—gently—bringing up one concrete instance of neglect in the spirit of forgiving. The concrete referent and the unconditional love in combination may aid your mother in breaking the denial and being open to your forgiveness of her.
For additional information, see My Mother Robbed Me of Trust.
You can follow the same Process Model when forgiving yourself. Most of the time, when we offend ourselves, we also have offended others. If this is the case for you, then as you forgive yourself, consider seeking forgiveness from those whom you have hurt by your actions.
For additional information, see How to Forgive.
I am forgiving my boss for harsh language about a month ago. Now this week he is dumping all kinds of work on me with unrealistic deadlines. Can I forgive him for both of these issues at the same time or is it better to take one at a time?
If the boss has a pattern of unjust behaviors, then you can forgive for the pattern itself rather than take each incident one at a time. If there are only two incidents as you describe, I would recommend forgiving the boss two times, for each discrete incident. It will be less complicated if you separate the two. Yet, if these two are part of a pattern, it may be better to forgive for the pattern so you do not have to forgive the boss 10 or 20 or 50 times.
For additional information, see Learning to Forgive Others.
Is it less meritorious to say to oneself about the other person, “I forgive you,” than to say this directly to the offending person?
The answer depends on how the other will respond. If that person is not ready to hear those words or to seek forgiveness, then rejection of your overture can happen. If the other sees no wrong in the actions, then rejection of your overture again can happen. In other words, it depends on the circumstances between the two of you. You certainly can say within yourself to the other, “I forgive you, “ and this is reasonable if proclaiming those words to the other will create more tension between the two of you.
For additional information, see 8 Keys to Forgiveness.