Tagged: “Dr. Robert Enright”
For the effects of unjust treatment against a person, you talk frequently of anger. Yet, I think I am more in pain than angry. What would you say about that?
I agree with you that pain occurs after being treated unjustly. I think the sequence is as follows: 1) Someone is unfair to you; 2) Next comes shock or even denial; 3) Then comes pain, as you describe; 4) If the pain does not lessen or if you have no effective way of reducing and eliminating the pain, then you may become angry.
That anger can be at the person for acting unfairly, or at the situation, or even at the pain itself that resulted from the unfair treatment. It is the anger, if it abides and deepens, that can lead to health problems (fatigue, anxiety, and so forth). So, I emphasize anger within Forgiveness Therapy because it, in the form of excessive anger or resentment, can be dangerous to health, relationships, and communities.
Is it harder to forgive if a person is filled with anger compared with another person who is filled with pain and sorrow after being treated unfairly?
It seems to me that if the anger is very intense and includes resentment or even hatred, then, yes, it is harder to forgive. Some people who are fuming with anger cannot even use the word “forgiveness” because it intensifies the anger. At the same time, if a person has deep sorrow, sometimes there is an accompanying lack of energy and the person needs some time to mourn first. At such times, the person needs to be gentle with the self as emotional healing takes place.
I have your book, Forgiveness Is a Choice. My question is this: Do I have to follow the 20 unit sequence in the exact order as you describe in the book?
This process model as describe in Forgiveness Is a Choice was not constructed to be a rigid model in which you have to follow the sequence in the exact order. Some of the units will be irrelevant for you and so you can skip them. Sometimes, as you are near the end of the forgiveness process, your anger re-emerges. At that point it may be best to cycle back to the earlier units to once again examine and confront your anger.
Can someone forgive a tornado if it destroyed his home?
Forgiveness is toward people who have been unfair. Can a tornado be unfair? No, because a tornado has no intentions to do evil. One can work on acceptance of what happened, but it would be a distortion of forgiveness if you encouraged someone to forgive an inanimate object. A goal of forgiveness, not always possible, is to enter back into a loving or respectful relationship with that person. One cannot ever enter into a loving relationship with a tornado.
What are some clues that someone has forgiven me?
Is the one who forgives showing you respect as a person? Is the person bringing up the incident and dominating you or are you both now on the same level in terms of your humanity? Does the other show an interest in reconciling with you and, if so, do you think that he or she is trusting you now in most areas of life? Positive answers to these questions are good indicators that the other has forgiven you.