Tagged: “emotional forgiveness”

I would like to say that forgiveness is fundamentally unfair. Why do I say this? It is because, as a person proclaims forgiveness toward another person, all that does is make the other person feel guilty. That’s not so nice—making someone else feel badly. What do you think? Can you convince me that I am wrong?

It’s true that declaring your forgiveness could make the other person feel guilty, but if the other person has done wrong, this is a very good thing. The individual may be able to change unfair behavior by feeling guilty and repenting. If you think about it, you actually are giving a gift to the other in this: You are gently helping the other to change unfair behavior. Did I convince you?

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Isn’t forgiveness poisonous? I say this because it hurts the forgivers. Those who forgive are now yielding to the unjust person’s demands, and it hurts them because of the toxic connection that currently exists.

As you forgive people, you don’t have to reconcile if they mistreat you. As an exercise of free will, forgiveness is not harmful because you are not necessarily entering back into an unhealthy relationship. In other words, you can forgive from a distance. Even if you don’t end up reconciling, forgiveness can release you from bitterness.

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I just do not have the confidence to forgive one of my parents from issues of long ago. I keep telling myself that I will not be able to get it done. What can you suggest to me that might boost my confidence?

First, I suggest that you look back on your life to concrete examples of your forgiving others. Have you had at least one successful attempt in your past? If so, you have shown yourself that you can forgive.

Even if you have never forgiven someone, you can start now with someone who is easier to forgive than your father. Try to recall someone who has hurt you in the past, but who has not hurt you severely. Start the forgiveness process with this person and keep at it until you have forgiven. Once you succeed with this person, then try another, again who has not hurt you gravely.

Once you have successfully practiced forgiveness on these two people, keep in mind the path that you walked and now apply it to your father. The practice may give you the confidence you need.

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I have a friend who puts me down and thinks it is funny. It hurts at least to an extent, but it is not excruciating for me. He does it over and over. Do you think it is harder to forgive someone for one really bad offense or to forgive someone who constantly is doing small things to demean and does so rather consistently?

The answer will vary by person and by how gravely serious the one offense is. Many people tell me that they struggle with forgiving those who hurt them on a regular basis. There are two reasons for this: 1) the 20th offense is harder than the first because there is a cumulative effect. The resentments get stronger as the problems persist; and 2) the person sometimes feels trapped, as if the problem will never end. This is why it is so important not only to forgive but also to seek fairness from the other. Living in harmony can occur when the one with a consistent pattern of unfairness comes to see this as unfair and is willing to change. Forgiving and correcting work well together as a team.

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