Tagged: “family”

I have been engaging in relaxation training to overcome my anger toward a family member.  It seems to be working, but at times my anger wells up and makes me uncomfortable.  My question is this: Is relaxation training sufficient or not to overcoming anger?

Relaxation training may be sufficient if the injustice you experienced is not severe.  If, on the other hand, it was a severe injustice, then relaxation by itself may only quell symptoms and not be a cure for your resentment.  Resentment, or deep and abiding anger, is not necessarily cured by relaxing because, once you are finished relaxing, the anger can return.  When you forgive, the resentment can be cured.

For additional information, see How to Forgive.

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I am growing impatient.  I have asked my partner for forgiveness and it is not forthcoming.  I have been waiting for weeks.  Do you have some advice for me?

The advice I can give at this point is patience.  Forgiving is the other person’s decision and that person may need more time.  Also, the person may not be convinced of your apology.  Have you done what you can to make up for the injustice?  This may help lower the other’s anger and lead to forgiveness for you.

For additional information, see Learning to Forgive Others.

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Syrian children have watched their parents die or have assisted in carrying out their parents’ bodies.  What would you advise for these children?

We first have to realize that forgiveness belongs to those who rationally conclude that they have been wronged.  Even if others say, “You have no right to forgive because there is no injustice here,” this does not mean that the children now are frozen in their decisions to forgive.  Some, perhaps the majority, of children who have such a traumatic experience, may develop severe resentment.  This resentment could destroy their lives in the future, even in the distant future because the damaging effects of resentment may not be manifested for years.  So, if there is the poison of resentment and if the children, as they grow up, decide to forgive, they should do so.  A question is whether they are able to identify specific people to forgive or whether they will end up forgiving a system and which system that will be.

For additional information, see Healing Hearts, Building Peace.

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I am a victim of incest. My father has died and I refuse to go to his graveside.  Does this mean I am not forgiving him?

Your not going to your father’s graveside does not necessarily indicate that you have not forgiven.  Forgiveness does not necessarily mean that you are finished with all negative emotions.  Classical conditioning may be happening here in that you associate the grave with the incest and it makes you uncomfortable or anxious.  Staying away under this condition is understandable.  If you are doing no harm to your father in that you are not talking negatively about him to family members or others, you may be on the path to forgiving.

For additional information, see Learning to Forgive Others.

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My mother refuses to accept my forgiveness. I am an adult who lives away from home now. She denies any neglect even though both my brother and I carry scars from her inattention when we were growing up. My brother and I carefully have examined this issue and we are in agreement about the unfairness. How do we get my mother to see this?

It never is too late to establish affectionate relationships.  You do see that what happened with your mother has damaged your trust and this an important insight. If you start to forgive your mother now, this is a start with establishing trust more generally.  Forgiveness itself does not necessarily engender trust, but it does make one open to trust because, if others fail you, at least you begin to realize that you have a way of confronting and overcoming resentment—through forgiving them.

In other words, forgiveness is a safety net against the wounds of others.  So, I would recommend that you start to cultivate a sense of forgiveness toward your mother and, when you are ready, be open to others, knowing that any unfairness on their part will not lead to a crushing resentment within you as you practice forgiveness in these new situations and relationships.

For additional information, see How to Forgive.

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