I don’t get why one of my parents continues to hold onto anger and wallow in self-pity when forgiveness is available.  Why do some people refuse to forgive?

I think there are at least four reasons for this:

  1. Some people think that holding on to anger empowers them to seek justice. Yet, one can seek justice without intense anger, which actually can take energy and focus away from the justice-seeking.
  2. Some people misunderstand what forgiveness is, thinking that it is giving in to the other’s demands, or a reconciliation that would be harmful, or a ploy to maintain the current unjust status quo.
  3. Some people wait for an apology before they consider forgiving to be appropriate.  Yet, waiting for certain words from another is giving that person power over your own recovery.
  4. Some people today say they will never forgive, but this is not necessarily their final word.  Saying no to forgiveness today does not mean that there will be no yes to it in the days, weeks, months, or even years ahead.

On the average, do you think it is easier for people to forgive or to ask for forgiveness?

I think that both are a challenge.  Asking for forgiveness requires a humility to admit wrongdoing.  Forgiving also requires the humility to see that the offending person and you share a common humanity.  Forgiving is a struggle to love those at whom you are angry or deeply disappointed and so this may be more challenging for many people than asking for forgiveness.

New Book Strives to “Make Forgiveness Easy”

“Forgiveness is like a superpower that hardly anyone ever uses.”

Forgiveness, once you know how to do it, is transformational. It will bring you a freedom and a peace that will make your whole life feel easier.”

“This book. . . is your opportunity to meet forgiveness afresh and learn how to use it to change your life, and your world, for the better.”

Barbara J. Hunt enthralls her readers with precious nuggets like those in the introduction to her new book Forgiveness Made Easy: The Revolutionary Guide to Moving Beyond Your Past and Truly Letting Go. 

Yes, those snippets are all from just the introduction. Wait until you read the gems in Chapter Two – Forgiveness Is For You; or those in Chapter Six – Resentment; or the seven-step forgiveness process she lays out in Chapter Nine – The Forgiveness Made Easy Process; or. . . well, I think you get the idea.

Barbara J. Hunt

Forgiveness Made Easy is crammed not only with real-life forgiveness guidance but also with real-life accounts of how Hunt has helped real people learn how to forgive and create a new life for themselves. Those stories come from Hunt’s more than 25 years of experience as an international mentor, life coach and facilitator.

“I wrote this book because I see forgiveness as a fundamental life skill that is rarely taught. Or, if it is, not taught at the necessary depth to be effective, let alone transformational,” Hunt explains. “I offer a forgiveness practice that is simple, effective, and easy.”

Hunt closes out the book with an invitation, as well as a challenge: to join her in connecting with the grandest vision for forgiveness–achieving global peace, one heart at a time.

“Forgiveness is the laying down of arms and defences,” she writes. “When you put aside your personal weapons and surrender the shield over your heart, your forgiveness becomes an act of amnesty for humanity. Together, we can be the (r)evolution of peace.”


Purchase the book at: Amazon.com
Read the book’s Table of Contents and Introduction
Learn more at the Forgiveness Made Easy official website
Visit the Barbara J. Hunt website Evolutionary Coaching


This book review was written by Dennis Blang, Director, International Forgiveness Institute.

Can fear be reduced when a person forgives?

Yes, as people forgive, they become less fearful of their own anger.  They now know that they have a safety net for reducing that anger if they think about the injustice they have experienced.  Yet, not all anger is reduced.  As an example, suppose a woman forgives her husband for having an affair.  He apologizes, accepts the forgiveness, and yet has another affair.  He has broken trust and so her fear that he will continue with affairs likely will occur (if they stay together).  The fear can diminish as the husband truly shows remorse, repents, and shows behavior of fidelity.  The diminishing of the fear in such a case can take time and is centered on both the forgiving and on a genuine reconciliation in which trust is restored.

Our Theory of Forgiveness

Our Theory of Forgiveness: Excerpt from Chapter 1 of The Forgiving Life            (APA Books, 2012)

Our theory starts with the premise that all people need to both give and receive love to be healthy and to have psychologically healthy families and communities.  I am not alone in this view when we study the ancient literature, going back to the formation of the Hebrew nation, thousands of years ago, with the command to love one’s neighbor as oneself.  I am not alone when we turn to modern-day heroes such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Gandhi, or Mother Teresa.  Unconditionally loving others, despite their blemishes and faults, was at the heart of their message.

I am not alone in this view when we consult modern philosophy, in which Gene Outka has shown the centrality of love for morally good human interaction.  I am not alone in this view of the primacy of love when we examine the earliest roots of psychology, going back over a century to the pioneering work of the psychoanalyst, Sigmund Freud, who made the famous statement that each person’s purpose is to work and to love if genuine mental health will result, a theme which continues to resonate with psychoanalysts in the 21st century.  Contemporary social scientists such as Thomas Lewis, Fari Amini, and Richard Lannon make the compelling biological case that love is at the central core of who we are as humans.[1]  I continue not to be alone in this view when I ask people of good common sense about what is of the utmost importance to them.


All people require love, both the giving and the receiving of love; this is not an option.                                                                                                          Robert D. Enright


On this issue, people who use the method of religious faith to understand the world, some people who use the method of deductive logic and philosophical analysis, some people who use the method of psychoanalysis, and some people who use the method of modern biological and social science are in agreement—The essence of our humanity is to love and be loved.

Robert

Lewis Smedes in his 1984 book, Forgive and Forget, instructed us to “see with new eyes” the one who has offended.  I talked with my friends about this idea (of seeing with new eyes) and they thought it was just a game people play on themselves.  They say that seeing the offender with new eyes is a way to just let him or her off the hook.  Can you offer advice so that I can convince my friends that Smedes’ advice is not just a bad trick we play on ourselves?

You can see the offending person “with new eyes” and still say that what happened was wrong, is wrong, and always will be wrong.  In other words, you do not reframe the actual situation, but instead reframe who the offending person is.  That person is more than the wrong behavior.  If your friends see that the behavior continues to be seen as wrong, then perhaps they will see that “seeing with new eyes” is not a trick centered on the behavior itself.

Please give me some advice on how I can keep the love and compassion in my heart for peers who keep repeating offenses over and over, with some of the behaviors getting worse over time.

This is one of the more difficult aspects of forgiveness.  Some people ask me if it is acceptable to just forget about forgiveness altogether under these circumstances.  I think it is all the more imperative to keep on persevering in forgiving both for the relationship (if you think it is a good idea to keep it) and for your own well-being.  With that said, I recommend that you keep working on the knowledge that the peers possess inherent (built-in) worth regardless of their behavior.  This kind of thought is not meant to excuse the behavior but instead to understand the truth that all people are special, unique, and irreplaceable.  Struggling to keep this idea in front of you is a first step in keeping the love and compassion in your heart.

Your Unfolding Love Story…..Continued

In my book, The Forgiving Life, I challenge the reader to start or continue telling his or her life’s story with an emphasis on putting more love in the world. The emphasis is not on romantic love, or what the ancient Greeks called eros.  Instead, the emphasis is on service love in which a person strives to support and uplift others.  This kind of giving-love, in Greek, is agape.
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A major challenge is this: No matter how you have lived your life to this point, you can begin, by your motivations, decisions, and actions today, to put more love in the world.  This can give you much more meaning and purpose in your life than perhaps you ever thought possible.
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Forgiving others can be part of your Unfolding Love Story.  In the name of goodness, is there someone at whom you have annoyance or perhaps deep anger?  Your forgiving that person can put more love into the world now by first putting that love in your heart.
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It is never too late to alter your story. What can you do today to make a love-difference in this difficult world?
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Robert

What if someone has hurt you, but you have never met the person?  For instance, I feel hurt by some politicians because of their decisions with which I disagree.  How can you wish people well under this circumstance of never having met them and probably never will meet them?

To wish someone well does not necessarily mean using language directly toward that person.  You can wish people well by hoping that they are not hit by a bus.  You can wish people well by thoughts that you hope they make good political decisions or grow as a persons or find happiness in this life.