Tagged: “relaxation training”

Which do you think is more effective as a treatment for anger: relaxation training or forgiveness and why?

Forgiveness is appropriate if the person is angry because of injustices suffered from those who have treated the person unjustly.  If this is the case, then I would choose forgiveness over relaxation, if I had to choose only one of these.  I would do so for this reason:  If we are deeply angry or frustrated or sad inside because of another person’s unfairness, these emotions are not easily eliminated by relaxation because relaxation treats the symptoms and not the underlying cause of the challenging emotions.  Once a person stops relaxing, the challenging emotions likely will re-emerge.  In contrast, forgiveness focuses on the cause of these emotions—the unjust treatment by a person—and the forgiveness process helps the emotionally wounded person to have a new response toward that person which tends to reduce these emotions to more manageable levels over time.  In other words, as the forgiver thinks about the one who offended, the challenging emotions will have been reduced toward the offending person and so healing occurs.  With relaxation training, there is no attempt to directly alter one’s emotions toward an offending other person.

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I have been engaging in relaxation training to overcome my anger toward a family member.  It seems to be working, but at times my anger wells up and makes me uncomfortable.  My question is this: Is relaxation training sufficient or not to overcoming anger?

Relaxation training may be sufficient if the injustice you experienced is not severe.  If, on the other hand, it was a severe injustice, then relaxation by itself may only quell symptoms and not be a cure for your resentment.  Resentment, or deep and abiding anger, is not necessarily cured by relaxing because, once you are finished relaxing, the anger can return.  When you forgive, the resentment can be cured.

For additional information, see How to Forgive.

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