My spouse keeps up subtle put-downs on me. I forgive….and forgive again….and it keeps happening. I am growing weary of forgiving. Help!
When you forgive, try also to ask for fairness once your anger is lower. Forgiveness and justice need to exist side-by-side. From a position of reduced anger, consider letting your spouse know of your inner hurt from these “subtle put-downs.” Your spouse needs to hear this so that a change in behavior can occur, and perhaps an asking-for-forgiveness from you.
Learn more at Forgiveness for Couples.
I am about half-way through the process of forgiveness and I now am realizing that what happened was not entirely the other person’s fault. I “pushed his button” and he got angry. Is it ok to abandon the process of forgiveness under this circumstance?
Are you still angry with the other person? If not, then forgiving may not be necessary. Are you concluding that there was no actual injustice against you? If so, then forgiving may not be necessary. If you see the other as simply reacting with a reasonable level of anger and if there is no harm to you, then yes, setting forgiveness aside is reasonable. If, in the future, you find that you do harbor resentment, the starting up the forgiveness process again would be fine.
Learn more at Why Forgive?
“Why not just accept what happened to you?” is a question I have heard many times. When a person is encouraged to accept what happened, this may or may not include forgiveness. Forgiveness and acceptance are different.
When one accepts what happened, this is a kind of surrender in a positive sense. It is not a caving in to problems or acquiescing to unjust actions from others. Acceptance is knowing that the world is imperfect and that bad things can happen. To accept is to stop fighting against what already happened. To accept is to resign oneself to the fact that the past event was unpleasant, but now we are in the present, away from that event.
Forgiveness, in contrast, is to offer goodness to those who have created the past unpleasant or decidedly unjust event. Forgiveness is an active reaching out to the other in the hope that the two might reconcile, although actual reconciliation may not occur.
A forgiver still can accept what happened, but not then be passive regarding the other person. The forgiver actively struggles to get rid of resentment and to offer kindness, respect, generosity, and/or love to the other person.
While acceptance can help us adjust to adversity, it, by itself, often is not sufficient to extinguish a lingering resentment toward others. Forgiveness is the active process for this.
Forgiveness and acceptance: They can work together, but they should not be equated as synonymous.
Forgiving in its essence is never immoral because it is part of the moral good of this world. When you offer unconditional kindness and even love to someone who hurt you, while protecting yourself against further wrong, this is goodness itself. Yet, when a person does not fully understand what forgiveness is, it is this distorted notion of forgiveness that can be inappropriate. An example is using the act of forgiving to exert power over the other. The “forgiver” might constantly remind the other of his or her offense and how hard and noble it is to forgive. This, of course, is not forgiveness at all but a distortion of it.
Learn more at What Is Forgiveness.
Recently, I have been hearing people say that forgiveness is transcendence. By this they seem to mean that as people forgive, then the past injustices do not affect them any more. They have risenabove the pain, the anguish, the sadness, and the anger. They have moved on.
If this is all that forgiveness is, then forgiveness is not a moral virtue. A moral virtue, such as justice or patience, is for people. It reaches out to people. It aids and supports people by putting the particular virtue into action and that action points toward people. When I exercise justice, for example, I honor the agreement that is part of a contract into which we both have entered. I am patient by restraining from harsh words when in a long line or when those who are my teammates at work are slowing things down.
Moral virtues are concerned with goodness expressed toward other people.
If forgiveness is part of love—a moral virtue—then it cannot be only about transcending the past because one can transcend that past by being neutral toward those who have been unfair, who were responsible for the hurt. The forgiver need not enter into a direct relationship with the injuring person if he or she continues to cause harm.
Yet, the forgiver wishes the other well, as Lewis Smedes in his 1984 book, Forgive and Forget has said. The forgiver is willing to do good toward the other, if the other changes abusive behavior. Being neutral might be part of the pathway toward forgiving, but it is not its end point.
The end point of forgiving is to express love, as best one can, toward those who have not loved the forgiver. Even if a person cannot develop that love for whatever reason, loving the other nonetheless is the endpoint of true forgiveness.
– Robert Enright
Transcending the past might be a consequence of forgiving, but it is not forgiving itself…..if forgiveness is a moral virtue.
Learn more about the definition of forgiveness at Forgiveness Defined then read Dr. Enright’s best-selling book Forgiveness is a Choice: A Step-by-Step Process for Resolving Anger and Restoring Hope. This self-help book is for people who have been deeply hurt by another and who are caught in a vortex of anger, depression, and resentment. It walks readers through the forgiveness process Dr. Enright developed to reduce anxiety and depression while increasing self-esteem and hopefulness.