Tagged: “hurtful event”
Reconciliation is different from forgiveness. When we reconcile, this is a process of two or more people coming together again in mutual trust. Reconciliation is conditional on the other person’s willingness to change, if he or she was the one who acted unfairly. Forgiveness, in contrast, can be offered unconditionally to the other as a form of respect, understanding, compassion, and even love, even if there is no reconciliation. So, you can forgive without reconciling.
With all of this as background, here are four questions which might help you decide if you are ready to reconcile (and I am presuming that the other is the one who has hurt you):
1) Has the other shown an inner sorrow about what he or she did? We call this remorse;
2) Has the person verbally expressed this sorrow to you. We call this repentance;
3) Has the person made amends for what happened (and we have to ask if he or she has done so within reason because sometimes we cannot make full amends. For example, if someone stole $1,000 from you but truly cannot repay it all, then you cannot expect that he or she can make amends in any perfect way). We call this recompense;
4) If the person has shown what I call the “three R’s” of remorse, repentance, and recompense, then do you have even a little trust in your heart toward the person? If so, then perhaps you can begin a slow reconciliation, taking small steps in rebuilding the relationship. Your answer to these four questions may help you with your question: How do I know that I now am ready to reconcile?
How can I forgive a God I no longer believe in? I have a lot of anger toward this non-existent deity.
It seems to me that you do, in fact, believe in God and this is hidden from you right now. Why do I say this? You cannot have anger toward a person who does not exist. How can a person who does not exist be unfair to you and therefore hurt you? It is similar with God. How can you have “a lot of anger” for a deity when you claim the deity does not exist? Your emotions suggest to me that you do see God as real. If this is true, then you need to ask questions such as this: Is God perfect, all holy? If so, then God cannot be unjust to you. Perhaps it is people who have hurt you and you are passing this now to God (“God should have prevented this,” as one example). If this is your mode of thinking, then I recommend a deeper dive into theology so that you can address the issue of why God allows suffering in this world; why God allows others to be unfair to you. In other words, it may be the rigors of this world and hurtful people at whom you are angry.
To what extent do you think a person should revisit the injustice, feel the emotions from that time, and relive the event in order to gain insight into how to confront all of this now? I am concerned that such revisiting could induce re-traumatization.
The process of forgiveness does not require that the other revisit the event of the injustice. Instead, the big question from that past time is this: Was I truly treated unjustly? If the answer is “yes,” then the goal is to examine, not the actual past event, but instead the current effects of that event on the person now. So, re-traumatization is not likely to occur because the person definitely is not asked to revisit in detail that past event. We have to realize that some degree of trauma exists now, if the injustice is deep. So, it is not that the potential forgiver is revisiting negative feelings. Instead, it is the case that the person is examining current negative feelings that now can be changed to more adaptive emotions and reactions.
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.
You can ask yourself these questions:
- Am I dwelling on what happened to me? Do I ruminate often on the other person and the situation that was unfair to me?
- Does this rumination interfere with my sleep?
- Am I too tired too often?
- Do I think what happened to me is interfering with my getting on with life, with my achieving meaning and purpose in life?
If you answer yes to most of these questions, then the anger may be in control. Forgiving can lead to an answer of “no” to most or all of these questions. It is then that you will see that you are in control of your anger.