If you are fearful of what the other did to you and might do again, you can avoid reconciliation with this person. You can forgive without reconciling. Forgiveness starts within a person, with thinking and feeling toward the other. You need not take the step of behaving toward the other—of interacting with the other—if this person continues to harm you. This should reduce fear. Anger tends to be reduced first through forgiving. The anger can lessen even more if the other person is repentant, apologizes to you, and changes for the better so that you can reconcile with a sense of genuine trust toward the person.
Overcoming anger toward the one(s) who acted unjustly is one of the main ways of knowing that one is on the path of forgiving. As Aristotle reminds us, none of us is perfect in appropriating the virtues. As Aristotle further reminds us, there is much more to any virtue than just one component of it. Therefore, overcoming anger is important and those who so overcome should feel very good about this. At the same time, a forgiver should realize that there are other components of forgiveness that can be cultivated, such as a softened heart toward the one who was unjust. This can include kindness, respect, generosity, and even love for the other. The cultivation of love (the ancient Greek word for this kind of love is agape, or loving others even when it is painful to do so) toward this person seems to be the highest level of forgiving and this can take both effort and time to achieve.
How does going through the forgiveness process alter how one now views the past, in looking back on a betrayal?
When we forgive, we do not literally forget the past. What tends to happen is this: As the one who forgives looks back, there can be some anger or sadness, but it does not overwhelm the forgiver. The person now can look back without the same level of pain that occurred then. Here is an analogy: Have you ever had a broken bone or a sprained ankle? At the time, it was very painful, but once it is healed, and when you look back, you do not experience the exact same level of pain now. It is similar with forgiveness in that, as you look back, the amount of pain tends to be diminished even if some emotional pain is present.
I am worried that if I stand up for my rights at work, especially toward my boss, that this will have negative repercussions for me. Is it better to forgive and not seek justice?
How you seek justice—-your approach to this—-is very important. If you forgive first, then you likely will be able to approach your boss with patience and gentleness rather than with a sense of confrontation. So, focus on the **how** of standing up for your rights and respect the boss and others whom you approach. The boss has inherent worth and you have inherent worth. Let your words flow from this truth.
Yes, there is. When we are unjustly treated by others, it is characteristic that most people initially experience some anger because of this. This anger occurs because you know right from wrong and you know that wrong has been done to you. You are angry, at least in part, because you know you are a person of worth and should be treated as such. It is when that anger deepens and stays with you for months or years that it can turn into unhealthy anger that affects your body and your emotions.