Tagged: “Enright Forgiveness Process Model”
Is excessive anger the only serious concern with a lack of forgiveness? What about sadness or grief?
You are correct that a person may experience sadness or grief rather than or in addition to anger when treated very unfairly by others. As documented in the book, Forgiveness Therapy (2024) by Enright and Fitzgibbons, it is excessive anger in particular (the kind of anger that is intense and long lasting) that can lead, over time, to psychological compromise such as anxiety and depression. So, from a mental health standpoint, it is the excessive anger that is of primary concern and in need of amelioration.
If my motivation is to reduce my rage toward the one who was really unfair to me and if I am not getting any relief, then is this a good reason to abandon the quest to forgive this person?
If you are struggling with offering forgiveness, you certainly can take a break for a while and refresh before trying again. Yet, please keep in mind that the essence of forgiveness is to be merciful toward the offending person and so you still can continue with the forgiveness process regardless of your own psychological improvement. Please keep in mind that it can take time for psychological improvement to occur when you forgive, especially when you are deeply hurt. Therefore, you may need patience and time before you experience the psychological improvement. Thus, you can forgive as you remain psychologically challenged and then hope for such improvement within yourself as you engage in the forgiveness process.
The victim being healed is a consequence of forgiving. Forgiveness itself is the merciful reaching out to the offending person in terms of how you think about this person, how you feel about this person, and how you would behave toward this person (if it is safe to interact with this person).
Is it wrong to want to forgive someone by making the decision to help yourself to be freed from the rage and resentment? Or, is forgiveness only legitimate if you do it for the offending person?
We need to make a distinction between what forgiveness is and what are motivations for forgiving. When a person, who was treated unjustly, has the goal of reducing rage, this is a legitimate motivation. At the same time, forgiveness itself, as a moral virtue, is for the one who offended. So, as you appropriate forgiveness, you are doing your best to reach out to the other with kindness, respect, generosity, and even love. Your motivation for doing so may be to help yourself to heal emotionally. Further, this motivation eventually can change toward wanting the best for the one who offended.
If someone hasn’t harmed me directly, can I still forgive this person? As an illustration, one of my fellow employees was intentionally injured by our boss. Can I forgive the person who mistreated the co-worker whom I respect for his integrity and tenacity?
You speak of what some philosophers refer to as secondary forgiveness. Put another way, you have suffered by someone else’s wrongdoing toward a significant other and not toward you personally. You can forgive if something unfair happens to others and then this causes you pain. This can even happen if you are injured even though you don’t know the victim or victims. This is called tertiary forgiveness. Here is an illustration of this tertiary forgiveness: the head of your country starts a conflict with another nation and you believe that your leader’s actions are unjust. If you choose to forgive the leader, then you can.