Tagged: “Enright Forgiveness Process Model”

What are some key reasons why people will not let go of their anger when treated unfairly by others?

While there are many reasons for holding onto anger, here are a few of these for your consideration:

Sometimes, people feel a sense of power by holding on to the anger.  They feel as if no one will be able to treat them badly if they have a deeply assertive attitude.  Of course, one can be assertive without being angry, but at times people link these two (being powerful and being angry) together.

At times, people are unaware of the damage being done to one’s inner world by holding on to the anger.  It is as if there will be no negative consequences for keeping such deep and abiding anger inside.  Therefore, the person clings to the anger thinking that no harm can be done by doing this.

At other times, people are denying the depth of their anger, thinking that a little anger will not hurt them when, in fact, they have much more of this emotion than they realize.  At such times, it is important to uncover the depth of the anger for the sake of the offended person’s well-being and for the well-being of those with whom there is frequent interactions.

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How can I be sure that the other person truly acted unjustly?  In other words, is it possible that I am misinterpreting the situation and there really was no injustice against me?

I would recommend that you scrutinize the issue in three ways:

  1. What was the actual behavior of the other? Was the action against your own interest, such as an act that put you in some kind of danger (unsafe behavior or words that demean you)?
  1. What were the circumstances? Was the other, for example, in a difficult situation in which there was little time to reflect and therefore to act wisely?  Was the other in a situation that itself could lead to injury such as speeding in a car?
  1. Although it is difficult to ascertain the motives of other people, what do you think was motivating the other person? Was there a goal to hurt you?

As you reflect on the other’s behavior, circumstance, and motive, this may help you decide whether the other person truly was unjust or not to you.  At times, not all three issues have to be present.  For example, suppose the person was texting while driving, with no intent to hurt you (no motive to hurt).  Yet, the behavior and the circumstance are such that this activity is risky.  Therefore, a conclusion of injustice is justified.

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I do not like my job because of over-bearing demands from my supervisor.  I cannot leave my current position just yet.  Will forgiving even help me develop a better relationship with the supervisor?

When we forgive, we do not necessarily get the best result of a whole and fair relationship.  If you forgive your supervisor, which I do recommend if you are ready, then at the very least, your resentment can lessen and so your inner world will not be as disrupted as it might have been.  The forgiving may help you to have sufficient energy to apply for other positions if this opportunity arises.  Even without justice in the workplace, you are taking steps to guard your inner world.

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When I forgive and then look back on what happened to me, do you think that the memories will be more pleasant or am I stuck with bad memories?

When we forgive, we do not forget.  We tend to remember in new ways.  If you decide to forgive, and when you look back, the memories may not be good in that you see goodness from all involved.  You likely still will see unfairness and call it that.  The big difference after you forgive is this:  When you remember, you will do so with less pain and with more understanding.  You still may experience some sadness because of what might have been, but the deep pain of resentment should diminish.

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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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