Tagged: “hurtful event”
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.
You discuss in the Uncovering Phase of forgiveness that a person should examine defense mechanisms. For example, might I be in denial that the other truly was unjust? Since defense mechanisms usually are hidden from the one who is denying, how are we to uncover these defense mechanisms?
I think there are two keys to uncovering the defense mechanisms.
First, if the one who is considering forgiveness does not think that there is a solution to the inner pain, then this fear can prevent an opening up to reality, to the true conclusion that “I have been wronged and I am in pain.” When this potential forgiver sees that forgiveness is a safety net to getting rid of that inner pain, then opening up to what really happened is more likely.
Second, as the potential forgiver sees the extent of the inner pain (which can be deeper than is first discerned), then this realization of deep inner pain can be a motivation to move forward with healing. This courageous decision to move forward helps people to see even more clearly now that the pain must be confronted, which can weaken the defense of denial.
A just-published scientific study has documented significant mental health benefits derived by Ukrainian citizens who practice forgiveness compared to those who are less willing to forgive. Those findings, according to the authors, will be especially useful for providing appropriate psychological assistance for those adversely affected by the ongoing war with Russia.
Although the Russian invasion of Ukraine began on Feb. 24 of this year, the war in eastern Ukraine has been ongoing since 2014 when a political coup overthrew the pro-Russian government. Since then, more than 14,000 people have been killed in the eastern Ukraine region of Donbas in warfare between ethnic Russians and the Ukrainian military.
That fighting has caused an obvious deterioration of socio-economic living conditions for all Ukrainians. As the armed conflict has intensified, so has the occurrence and severity of mental health issues including depression, psychosomatic diseases, anger and stress-related illnesses, trauma, alienation from friends and relatives, aggressive and antisocial behavior, and criminal activities.
What role the concept of forgiveness can play in a military conflict zone is poorly understood and has never been systematically investigated—until now. A new research report, Forgiveness as a Predictor of Mental Health in Citizens Living in the Military Conflict Zone (2019-2020), was published in the most recent issue of the Journal of Education Culture and Society.
The research was conducted during the years 2019-2020, prior to the Russian invasion. It was authored by Svetlana Kravchuk, a psychologist, and Viacheslav Khalanskyi, a psychotherapist, both of whom practice in Kyiv, the country’s capital city.
Study participants included 302 Ukrainian citizens, half living in the volatile eastern part of the country (where most of the pre-Russian invasion fighting took place), and half living in the more tranquil central part of Ukraine. Using eight different clinically validated scientific tools, the researchers were able to verify the strategic role forgiveness can play in the emotional health of conflict victims.
Here are some of their findings (direct quotes from the report):
- The obtained correlations show that the more a person is prone to forgiveness, the less anxiety and depression a person has.
- A person with a high tendency to forgiveness is characterized by higher levels of decisional forgiveness, hope, emotional forgiveness, tolerance and acceptance of others, mental health, happiness and life satisfaction, as well as tolerance for others’ mistakes.
- The more pronounced degree of tendency to forgiveness is correlated with less pronounced degree of anxiety and depression.
- Hope, happiness, life satisfaction, and tendency to forgiveness can allow citizens living in eastern Ukraine to recover quickly from psychological trauma, contribute to the successful overcoming of negative effects of military conflict and functioning successfully.
According to the authors, the practical value of this research lies in expanding and deepening the understanding of the “phenomenon of forgiveness” and, in the process, developing forgiveness therapy techniques that will work in the mental health sphere throughout Ukraine.
- Read the full report about the role of forgiveness in Ukraine’s military conflict.
- Forgiveness as a Missing Piece to Peace Between Ukraine and Russia (Psychology Today).
- Here’s What You Can Do to Help People in Ukraine Right Now (Time).