Tagged: “Enright Forgiveness Process Model”

I am trying to forgive, but at times I have these feelings of revenge.  Is this part of the forgiveness process or am I doing something wrong?

Feelings of revenge can be part of the preliminary process before a person commits to forgiveness.  In other words, the process of forgiveness allows for a period of anger.  At the same time, you do not want to act on revenge-feelings, but instead realize that revenge-seeking can harm both you (because of harsh emotions that can lead to anxiety or depression) and the other person.  So, feelings of revenge are not part of the forgiveness process itself but can be present prior to the decision to forgive.  Forgiving can go a long way in eliminating feelings of revenge.

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I have tried cognitive and cognitive-behavioral therapies and they do not work in a deep way for me.  In other words, I can change my thinking about the situation, try not to see it as a catastrophe, but still I have unsettled emotions inside that need healing.  Can forgiveness aid the recovery of more positive emotions and, if so, how does this occur?

Yes, you could include forgiveness in your therapeutic work.  In contrast to the therapies in which you have engaged, forgiveness goes beyond the examination of your symptoms in the context of the injustice(s) against you.  Forgiveness therapy goes to the root cause of the continued emotional upset by having you do the work of focusing on the one who hurt you, trying to see this person as someone who possesses inherent worth.  As you see the other’s worth, this can enhance a sense of empathy and compassion toward the other and this has the paradoxical effect of lowering the temperature of your anger.  So, adding forgiveness to your program likely will be beneficial for you.  I wish you the very best in your healing journey.

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Even though I forgive people, I still can get angry when I think back to the person and the situation.  It seems to me that I have not forgiven.  What do you think?

When we forgive, all of the anger does not necessarily leave us.  We still can have residual feelings that include anger, sadness, and disappointment.  If these emotions are not frequent and intense, and if you have gone through the forgiveness process and are wishing the other well (even if you cannot reconcile), then I think you are forgiving.  This does not mean that there is no more work to do.  When the negative emotions surface, consider going through the forgiveness process again.  It likely will be quicker and take away, once again, some of the negative emotions.

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I have a pattern of saying to myself, “I forgive you” whenever someone is unjust to me or even when I am somewhat annoyed.  I now am wondering: Am I actually forgiving when I do this or am I not forgiving?

Forgiving is a process that requires more than a statement such as “I forgive you.”  Your statement to yourself may be more of a promise to now work on the process, to commit to the struggles of seeing the inherent worth in the other person, to bear the pain of what happened, and to be good to the person (within reason; you need not reconcile if the other is harmful to you).  So, try to see the positives in your statement to yourself.  Try to see it as the beginning of the commitment now to follow through with the hard work of forgiving.

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In your Process Model of Forgiveness, you have one unit called compassion.  I am trying to forgive someone who passed away recently.  Can I have compassion on this person and if so, how does this work?

Compassion includes at least four elements:

1) Sympathy toward the one who hurt you.  Sympathy is an emotional reaction to another’s pain.  For example, if someone comes to you angry that he just lost his job and now is struggling financially, you have sympathy when you feel sorry for the person.  His anger and unfortunate situation leads to a different emotion in you: sadness.

2) Empathy toward the one who hurt you.  Empathy is stepping inside the other’s shoes (so to speak) and feeling the same feeling as the other.  Thus, when the other is angry, you empathize with that person when you also feel anger.

3) Behaving toward the other by supporting him or her in the time of distress.  This could include a kind word or talking about the strategy of solving the job problem, as examples.

4) Suffering along with the person.  This latter point is the deepest aspect of compassion.  It could involve helping the person financially before a new job is secured;  it could involve driving the person to a job interview.

In the case of having compassion for a deceased person, you can have sympathy and empathy (the first two elements of compassion), but you cannot engage in the other two elements because behavior with and toward the other is not possible.  Compassion need not have all four elements to count as compassion.  You can think of the hard times endured by the deceased person and react with sympathy and empathy.  Such compassion may aid your forgiveness.

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The Missing Piece to the Peace Puzzle

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