Tagged: “Enright Forgiveness Process Model”

As I forgive, I am finding that my anger comes and goes.  I find this frustrating as I expected a straight line from anger to no anger.  Can you provide some perspective for me?

The philosopher from ancient Greece, Aristotle, reminds us that we are all imperfect when it comes to the expression of any of the moral virtues.  Therefore, please try to be gentle with yourself and to humbly accept that you will not have a perfect straight line from anger to no anger.  You certainly are not alone in this as the vast majority of us can experience a resurgence of anger.  At that point, it is good to go back a few steps in the forgiveness process and begin again to see the inherent worth in the one who hurt you, try to cultivate some empathy, bear the pain of this anger, and when you are ready consider a gift to the other (such as a smile or a kind word about the person to others).

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I work hard on forgiveness, but sometimes I get to a week in which I do not want to even think about it or what happened to me. During these times, what can I do to not feel guilty or uncomfortable about setting forgiveness aside?

Let us take an analogy here. Suppose you have a physical fitness regimen. Do you work out every week for an entire year or do you take some time off to refresh, to heal, to re-group? Physical trainers tell us to take some time off. It is good for us. Think of becoming forgivingly fit in the same way. Hard work is good, but we need some time off to refresh and re-group so that we come back to that work with renewed enthusiasm.

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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.

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You talk of release from emotional prison as a person forgives.  Is this the hardest step in the forgiveness process, to be released from that emotional prison of pain and suffering, or do you find that other steps in the forgiveness process are harder?

The answer, of course, will vary from person to person, but we have found that the initial decision to go ahead and forgive can be the hardest part of the forgiveness process because it is taking a step into the unknown (if the person never has tried to forgive in any deep way before). Also, if a person confuses forgiving with reconciling or excusing the behavior, the decision to forgive becomes very difficult because the person is misunderstanding what forgiveness is, seeing it as a weakness.  Once the true definition of forgiveness is clarified, people usually are ready to move forward with the forgiveness process.

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