My fiance recently separated from me. During therapy she mentioned that she loved me, but was extremely angry at me. When we first started dating there were some infidelity issues on my end, and what’s worse, I lied about it or hid the truth. It has been several years, and there have been no further infidelity issues. I lied, because I was trying to protect our relationship. I have come completely clean in therapy, but I am not sure if there is anything I can do beyond the counseling…

Your fiancee appears to be harboring resentment from your past infidelity. Does your therapist emphasize forgiveness as part of the healing process? If not, you might consider asking him or her to work with both of you on giving and receiving forgiveness.

 

If your therapist will not do this, then you should consider switching therapists to someone who knows forgiveness therapy. I recommend that you??purchase a copy of The Forgiving Life??book for your fiancee, for the therapist, and for yourself. All of you can then have the same goal with the same content on which to work.

 

Your financee’s anger can be overcome through forgiveness therapy, especially if you have truly changed, as you have indicated.

Checking in Once Again on Your Unfolding Love Story

On January 19, 2012 we posted a reflection on our blog site in which we encouraged readers to grow in love as their legacy of 2012. We said this:

“Give love away as your legacy of 2012.

How can you start? I recommend starting by looking backward at one incident of 2011. Please think of one incident with one person in which you were loved unconditionally, perhaps even surprised by a partner or a parent or a caring colleague. Think of your reaction when you felt love coming from the other and you felt love in your heart and the other saw it in your eyes. What was said? How were you affirmed for whom you are, not necessarily for something you did? What was the other’s heart like, and yours?”

It is now about seven months later. Can you list some specific, concrete ways in which you have chosen love over indifference? Love over annoyance? If so, what are those specifics and how are they loving? We ask because we have only about four-and-a-half months left to 2012. Have you engaged in over half of all the loving responses that you will leave in this world this year?

If you have not yet deliberately left love (or enough love) in the world this year, there is time…..and the clock is ticking.

R.E.

The Five Myths of Forgiveness

Today, class, we will take an exam. It is a pop-quiz of sorts, to test your thinking about forgiveness, specifically with regard to what I am calling some of the “myths” of forgiveness.

See what you think.

1. Forgiveness is very much intrenched in popular culture right now, but the interest will fade, as all fads do. True or false?

Although interest in the topic of forgiveness may wax and wane through the generations and across cultures, forgiveness is timeless because, unfortunately, conflict and injustice are part of this world. As long as there are conflict and injustice, forgiveness will burn brightly.

2. For me to forgive, the other has to repent and apologize. True or false?

Although it surely is good when others repent and apologize, these are not necessary for you to forgive because forgiveness is a virtue and no other virtue requires a prior response from another person before you can forgive. Some say that the withholding of forgiveness until the other apologizes is a moral good because this then helps the offender to see the error of his/her ways and to make amends. Yet, no one who says this has convinced me that the reverse is not equally true: Forgive first and point out the other’s offense in the hope that he/she will respond to your offer of goodness and therefore repent.

3. It is better to stand up for justice than to forgive because justice will directly correct wrong. True or false?

Although the quest for justice is always good, this does not mean that we have to dichotomize justice and forgiveness and try only for one or the other. We can strive for justice and forgive as we do so. These two virtues are not mutually exclusive.

4. Once a person begins to show a pattern of devaluing forgiveness, it is likely that this will continue. True or false?

Although it is difficult to break habits, forgiveness education can and does change minds and hearts with regard to the topic. So often people reject forgiveness because they have been so very hurt in this world. Forgiveness acknowledges this pain and gently offers a way out of that pain. Never underestimate the power of genuine and effective pain relief.

5. Forgiveness is a good idea, but it is too hard. No one can truly accomplish it. True or false?

Because all of the other myths were false, by now I suspect that you said “false” to this one. My question, then, is this: Why is it false? One answer to consider: As we practice any virtue, we get more proficient at it. We need not reach perfection in any one virtue to be actually practicing it. We all practice all virtues in an imperfect way. The point is to try, and then as we try, we grow in proficiency in the practice of that virtue, including forgiveness.

R.E.

Sometimes my adolescent son and I argue just like my own father and I used to argue. It is kind of odd to see this reproduced across the generations. In your book, The Forgiving Life, you talk about this and recommend that we forgive people from our past who may be influencing our present. My question is this: How do I help my son to forgive his grandfather for what he inflicted on me without betraying a confidence and without hurting my son’s image of his grandfather?

The intergenerational pattern of forgiveness can get complex, as you are seeing. The good news here is that your son need not forgive his grandfather for what he inflicted on you. You need to forgive your father for this. You son should forgive his grandfather for what the grandfather did to your son. So, you can keep the issues of injustice private between your father and you without necessarily sharing the specifics with your son.

I do recommend that you point out the pattern of anger between the generations. This will help your son to see that you and he have learned a pattern of behavior that needs to be broken or else he and his children are likely to continue the unwanted pattern.

Please try to point out the intergenerational pattern of anger to your son in as non-judgmental a manner as possible. In other words, first forgive your father and then discuss the patterns with your son. In this way you are less likely to even subtly condemn your own father as you discuss the anger pattern with your son.

Can the Essence of Forgiveness Ever Be Altered?

Suppose that over time, a culture began to see forgiveness as simply moving on with a sense of tolerance. Have the people in that culture then changed what forgiveness is? After all, the current thinking in psychology and philosophy is that forgiveness is a moral virtue of goodness toward those who have been unjust.

I think it is impossible to alter the essence of forgiveness, no matter what happens in a particular culture or in a particular historical moment. We could, I suppose, see forgiveness as a relative concept, flexible in its meaning depending on the consensus of a group at a certain point in time, but that would be to invite error.

Here is what I mean: To label forgiveness as “moving on with a sense of tolerance” will mean that forgiveness is now equated with other terms, such as acquiescence and, as part of this definition, tolerance. Yet, forgiveness never gives in or acquiesces to wrong doing, but instead labels the wrong as wrong. Forgiveness never tolerates injustice but instead labels the injustice as unjust.

When it appears that a given group is defining forgiveness in an odd way, ask yourself this question: What else might this definition represent other than forgiveness? If you come up with a sound answer, then I urge you to stand firm in the truth of what forgiveness is, despite protests and even ad hominem attacks on you as a person.

Forgiveness is what it has been, what it is currently, and what it will be long after each one of us reading this post is gone from this world.

R.E.

How Forgiving Are You?

News item that could make a difference in your life:??Did you know that Dr. Enright’s newly released book, The Forgiving Life, is being produced in conjunction with a major publisher of psychological scales and tests called??Mind Garden? Mind Garden has set up on their website three forgiveness scales that are discussed in the book, The Forgiving Life. You can go on-line to??MindGarden.com??and fill out the forgiveness scales. Mind Garden then does all the work to score your responses and to let you know how forgiving or unforgiving you are toward any particular person. Mind Garden can then chart your progress in forgiving after you have worked through the process of forgiveness in the book.

Mind Garden??is an independent publisher of psychological assessments and instruments. The company’s goal is to “preserve and grow” important psychological assessments. In the quest to grow the health of the human psyche, it facilitates feedback and self understanding.

Mind Garden serves members of the academic, research, and consulting communities by offering high quality, proven instruments from prominent professionals. Mind Garden has partnered with Dr. Robert Enright,??founder of the International Forgiveness Institute, to create a series of scales related his latest book The Forgiving Life.??Jump to Mind Garden.

Pauline Gichuri

Today, I finally made the final step to forgive everyone who ever offended me, including damaging my life.

Its been 2 years since i was injured by a very close friend. My life turned upside down, i suffered and lost 90% of my life as I previously knew it. I prayed and verbally forgave the lady about 2yrs ago. But over the years i found myself talking about it with so much resentment, deep down my heart i wished the worst for her. I blamed everything wrong on her, and constantly accused her. But after some time i would verbally declare that I forgave her again.

This has been going on for 2 years. But today, i learned something new and valuable to my life. Forgiveness is a process that should be deep rooted. I went through the steps on this site and it was very very helpful. Dear readers, it doesn’t matter what the injury or outcome of the offender has on you, forgive them truly and you will start to enjoy the fruits of a pure heart. I would never find the words to describe what i went through with my offender, I was physically and spiritually attacked in so many ways.

But today I truly forgive her and wish her peace and happiness. I understand by doing so truly, it will be my first step to healing and happiness both physically and spiritually. Its my greatest prayer that the Almighty God will grant me this request. I congratulate everyone who decided to follow this wonderful steps towards forgiveness.