I am wondering why people don’t just simply use the word “kindness” rather than the word “forgiveness.” When you forgive, aren’t you just being kind to those who were obnoxious? If so, then shouldn’t we use the word “kindness”?
“Kindness” is not an exact enough word in the context of a person treating you unfairly. I say that because you can be kind without this issue of injustice entering into the situation. For example, you can be kind to a three-year-old who offers you her toy. She did nothing wrong to you. In the case of forgiveness, yes you can be kind, but you also can be loving and it always, without exception, occurs when someone was unfair to you. That is the specific difference between kindness and forgiveness. The latter always is in the context of being treated unfairly whereas kindness can occur when the other has been treating you kindly.
Is it possible for someone to actually improve in forgiveness? If so, what do you suggest as some keys for me to do that?
Forgiveness is not a superficial action (such as saying, “It’s ok” when someone is unfair to you). Instead, it is a moral virtue, as is justice and kindness and love. Aristotle told us thousands of years ago that one challenge in life is to become more perfected in the virtues. In other words, we do grow more proficient in our understanding and expression of the virtues, but only if we practice them. It is a struggle to grow in any virtue, including forgiveness. So, first be aware that you can grow in this virtue. Then be willing to practice it, with the goal of maturing in love, which is what forgiveness is (loving those who are unkind to us). You need a strong will to keep persevering in the struggle to grow in forgiveness. In sum, you need: understanding of what forgiveness is, practice, a strong will, and keeping your eye fixed on the goal of improving in love a little more each day.
In the past, I used to engage in what the expression is called “killing them with kindness.” It actually has been my mode of revenge, as I harbored deep anger while faking kindness. Is it possible to transition from fake kindness to the real thing?
Yes, it definitely is possible to change from a fake kindness to genuine kindness. We have thinking exercises in which we ask the one who is forgiving to see the struggles in the one who acted unfairly. Oftentimes, a person who is cruel to others has a history of being abused. Such an insight within the one who forgives (toward the one who was unfair) is not fostered to excuse the unjust behavior, but instead to see a genuine person, a hurting person, who is engaging in the injustice. As you begin to see a genuine person, one who has wounds and may be confused and frustrated, then a genuine sense of kindness toward that person can emerge. It takes time and so please be gently with yourself as you examine the true personhood of the other.
Regarding forgiveness, do you, personally, have any doubts about its effectiveness?
Because forgiveness is a moral virtue, as with all moral virtues such as justice and kindness, it is good in and of itself. Therefore, I am confident that to forgive is a moral good. Yet, I do have doubts, but not about forgiveness itself. My doubts instead are with how people imperfectly understand what forgiveness is or have errors in trying to apply it. For example, if a person thinks that to forgive is just to move on and forget the other person, this is not what forgiveness is. The misunderstanding, of course, is not the fault of forgiveness itself. As another example, if a person spends only 2 hours forgiving someone who was brutal to him when he was a child, this is an error of not taking sufficient time to forgive. Again, this is not the fault of forgiveness itself. So, in summary, my doubts are in human imperfection not being able to lead to an effective forgiveness response. I have no doubts about the goodness of forgiveness itself.
CORONAVIRUS ANXIETY LEVELS ARE SOARING
As more cities, states, and entire countries go into full lockdown to slow the spread of the coronavirus, psychologists and pandemic experts are warning that we may soon have yet another health crisis on our hands: deteriorating mental health.
“People really need to prepare for self-isolation,” says Dr. Steven Taylor, author of The Psychology of Pandemics and a clinical psychologist at the University of British Columbia. “It’s not enough to stock up on toilet paper. They need to think about what they are going to do to combat boredom.”
Fortunately, the International Forgiveness Institute (IFI) has a solution that will not only provide a diversion from shelter-in-place rules but help you, your children, and all your family members increase your emotional, physical, and mental health despite these stressful times.
LOCKDOWN LESSONS: LEARN TO FORGIVE AT HALF PRICE!
For a limited time only, the IFI is offering its individual and family Curriculum Guides at the never-before-offered price of HALF OFF – a 50% DISCOUNT from the regular price. We’ve reduced the price of all our Curriculum Guides to $15.00 from the regular price of $30.00. That’s the equivalent of purchasing one Guide and getting a second Guide for FREE.
Mix or match, you can select from our 14 grade-level Curriculum Guides (pre-kindergarten through 12th grade), our two Family-Learning Programs, and our End-of-Life Manual. These are the same tested and proven study guides now being used by parents, teachers, and homeschooling families in the US and more than 30 countries around the world.
Incorporating the latest social-emotional learning principles, these guides teach both children and adults about the five moral qualities most important to forgiving another person–inherent worth, moral love, kindness, respect and generosity. Each guide encompasses 8 or more lessons (one-half to one hour per week for each lesson) and includes Dr. Seuss and other children’s book summaries that help reinforce moral principles.
THE PERFECT SHELTER-AT-HOME FAMILY PROJECT
Through repetitious, peer-reviewed testing, IFI researcher Dr. Robert Enright has scientifically demonstrated that learning how to forgive through Forgiveness Education Curriculum Guides can:
- IMPROVE EMOTIONAL HEALTH – by reducing anger, anxiety, depression, and/or PTSD symptoms.
- ENHANCE PHYSICAL WELL-BEING – by lowering blood pressure, reducing stress hormones, and enhancing one’s immune system.
- IMPROVE PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS – with family, friends, and community.
- BOOST SELF-ESTEEM AND SELF-IMAGE – while increasing hopefulness about the future.
LIMITED TIME OFFER – ORDER NOW
We’ve slashed the price of all the IFI
Forgiveness Education Curriculum Guides by 50% for a limited time only.
Instead of the regular price of $30.00, Forgiveness Guides are now $15.00.
This offer expires on May 15, 2020.