How do you know that you can skip a step in your Process Model of forgiveness without it affecting the success of that process?
We tend to rely on common sense in this situation. For example, in the Uncovering Phase, one unit in the process is to see if you have been comparing yourself with the offending person, with the false conclusion that you are less of a person than the other. If you do not make such comparisons, then you can skip that step. There are parts of the forgiveness process that seem essential to us such as:
- seeing the other person as more than the hurtful actions against you;
- being aware of a softened heart within you as you progress in forgiveness;
- bear the pain of what happened so that you do not pass that pain back to the offending person or to others.
For additional information, see The Four Phases of Forgiveness.
I hurt someone and now I feel guilty. What are some pointers you can give me to seek forgiveness for what I did?
As you seek forgiveness you can:
- practice humility, that insight that you are not perfect.
- You certainly are deserving of respect because all people are special, unique, and irreplaceable.
- You can apologize and then
- wait patiently for the other to consider forgiving. Just because you are ready to receive the other’s forgiveness does not mean that the other is on the same timeline.
- Change the behavior that led to the difficulty.
- Then go in peace knowing you are doing your best in this.
For additional information, see: Learning to Forgive Others.
I am someone who is part of what they call the “minority” in my country. Quite frankly, I am unhappy with it, with the subtle “put-downs” and the like. People in my country have the expression of, “Fight for justice.” So, then, what place is left for forgiving?
We need to realize that forgiveness and justice are not mutually exclusive. Some people believe that to forgive is to take too soft an approach in striving for justice. In other words, they think that to forgive is to lose what they deserve. Yet, this definitely need not be the case. As people forgive, they can see more clearly through the fog of anger. They can see what is truly fair and then ask for that fairness in a way that is civil. They just might have a better chance of getting fairness than if they let anger dictate how they respond and for what they ask.
For additional information, see Forgiveness Defined.
I started to forgive a friend, but then he never responded to me. Can I forgive even if I get no response from him or should I just abandon the process of forgiveness?
Because forgiving is a moral virtue, it can be practiced unconditionally, regardless of the other’s response to you. You would be offering a gentleness to that other in spite of what was done to you. If the other refuses your gift, and if the person is not trustworthy, then you need not reconcile. Yet, you still can proceed with forgiving the person for the past injustice and even for his ignoring you as you offer forgiveness.
For additional information, see Choose Love, Not Hate.
I am encouraged by your statement that I can reduce my sadness and anger even if I have held these for many years. Yet, I have another question. These feelings now are part of my own identity, who I am as a person. I know that might sound a little odd, but it is scary to think of changing. Can you help me with that?
Change can be scary, especially when it breaks a long-standing pattern. We have seen that people find it hard to make a commitment to forgive because of change; the change itself is the initial challenge. Yet, my question to you is this: What might your new identity be like as you forgive and change? You might change to these kinds of views of yourself:
- I am someone who does not harm others;
- I can be a conduit for good in my family;
- I can bear pain and as I stand up to that pain, I am strong;
- I am beginning to love more deeply.
These kinds of views of yourself can assist you in a healthier identity and in aiding others in their pain. The new identity, you may find, is more friendly than the old one.
For additional information, see The Forgiving Life.