Tagged: “Dr. Robert Enright”
What is one concrete step I can take to begin forgiving another who has hurt me?
Try to commit, as you read this, to do no harm to the other. This includes talking with bitterness about the other, deliberately ignoring, or thinking about taking revenge.
It seems to me that anger is not always a bad thing. Can’t people be energized by their anger, focus, and attain fairness?
Yes, anger can be part of the motivation for achieving good. Yet, we have to make a distinction between anger within reasonable bounds (the emotion does not disable us, is not extreme) and anger that turns to resentment (a long-lasting and intensive anger that can lead to fatigue, distraction, and even physical complications). If we do not make this distinction, we could slip into resentment and conclude that it is good rather than dangerous in the long-term.
Doesn’t forgiveness flow from the moral virtue of justice? As a person strives for justice, then it may be safer to try forgiving.
Justice in its modern sense is to give people their due, to give them what is owed to them. For example, if you are a carpenter and build a table for me, justice requires that I pay you because I owe you the money. With forgiveness, the one who forgives does not exact a price of any kind from the one who acted badly. The one who forgives demands nothing from the other person. Instead, the one who forgives offers mercy, which actually is not deserved by the one who acted badly. If forgiving was equated with any kind of justice, then it follows that the forgiver cannot forgive at all until the other pays some kind of price such as an apology or some kind of recompense. Therefore, forgiving cannot be seen, in a philosophical sense, to flow from justice.
Isn’t it better to eliminate depression first, by psychotherapeutic means other than forgiveness, in a client prior to initiating forgiveness therapy?
Traditional psychotherapies are not necessarily as effective as forgiveness therapy. Therefore, it is best, in my opinion, to engage the client in forgiveness therapy, if this is chosen by the client. The depression then can lessen as the person continues on the forgiveness path.
If a person continuously forgives an insensitive partner, does this enable the partner’s bad behavior?
No, forgiving does not enable bad behavior. A lack of justice-seeking can enable that behavior. As a person forgives, it is important to bring justice alongside the forgiveness and ask for fairness. In this way, the partner has the opportunity to examine and change the behavior that is causing the problem.