Tagged: “forgiveness journey”

I have a co-worker who never stands up for himself nor does he even politely confront those who are giving him a hard time.  Instead, he gets angry (away from those with whom he is in conflict). Sometimes that anger comes out toward me. He can occasionally bang his fist into the top of his desk.  Do you think his actions are sufficient to relieve his anger or does this even help at all?

Your co-worker seems to be using the psychological defense of displacement, which means to take out the anger on something or someone else rather than on the original person who acted unfairly.  In the short-run your co-worker might experience some relief from this catharsis, but in the long-run, as I am sure you know, his hitting the top of the desk will not solve the injustice.  If your co-worker can do some forgiving and exercise this along with courage and a quest for justice, then he might be able to go to those at whom he is angry and talk it out in the hope of a fair resolution.

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I seem to be lost on the forgiveness path.  I try and try, but I do not think I have made much progress in forgiving my partner and this has been going on for about a year.  Should I just get off the forgiveness path regarding my forgiving him?

Before you give up, I have some questions for you:

1) Have you committed to doing no harm to your partner, even in the context of your having the opportunity to somehow hurt him?  If you answered, “Yes, I have committed to doing no harm,” then you are not lost on the forgiveness journey.  This is a big step in the process;

2) Have you tried to see his weaknesses, his confusions, his wounds that may have wounded you?  If not, perhaps you need to do some of this cognitive work, to see him in a wider perspective than only his injuries toward you;

3)  Do you think that your will is strong enough to do the work outlined in #1 and 2 above?  If so, that work could lead to your forgiving if you give this time.

So, what do you think?  Have you found your way back onto the path of forgiveness?

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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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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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Does forgiving another also include the belief that this person can change for the better?

No, to forgive another person does not mean that you, as the forgiver, believe that this other person can or will change.  To forgive is to offer compassion and the acknowledgement of the person’s humanity, regardless of the outcome of this belief.  This is one important reason why we have to distinguish forgiving and reconciling.  You can offer this compassion and recognition of the other’s humanity without reconciling if the other remains a danger to you.

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