I am an adult who has hurt my mother a number of times when I was a teenager.  I now very much would like to have her forgive me, but I am not sure that she has thought much about forgiveness.  She seems to have accepted who I was as a teen—a very immature young person.  Yet, I would like to see her truly forgive me.  How can I approach her with the idea of forgiveness?

One approach is to take one of the self-help books, such as my The Forgiving Life book published by the American Psychological Association.  I recommend that you read it first.  If you think it is appropriate for your mother, then share it with her and point out some of the sections in the book that proved helpful to you.  Your mother might get interested and, if so, this would give her a chance to work through the forgiveness process.

Learn more at The Forgiving Life.
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Do you think that anger can be addictive?

If by addictive you mean the person falls into a pattern that is hard to break, then the answer is yes.  People can fall into behaviors that involve temper, harsh language, and an adrenaline rush.  People who have this pattern can be helped by seeing what in the past has led to an original anger.  If it is an injustice, then forgiveness is appropriate.  Next, the person needs to examine any sense of entitlement or even narcissism that fuels the anger and keeps it going.  After that, the person needs to examine courageously who has been hurt by the anger-pattern and seek forgiveness from those who have been hurt by the pattern.

Learn more at Learning to Forgive Others.

My partner has hurt me very deeply.  Now he refuses to get help for his drinking and basically is destroying himself.  How do you forgive someone under these circumstances?

Actually, the forgiveness process will not differ to a great extent when the person is destroying the self.  You might actually forgive for the original offense and then forgive for the situation in which the person now is not working with you to rise above the very challenging situation.  In other words, you can forgive twice and the second one may be harder than the first because the person is not working as a team with you.

Learn more at Forgiveness for Couples.

I have forgiven someone who betrayed me and hurt me deeply.  My attitude toward the person now is good.  Yet, I have fear of this person.  What else can I do to move more deeply in forgiveness?

It seems to me that the issue now is not so much forgiveness as it is reconciliation.  Your fear likely is the result of a lack of trust toward the person because of the betrayal.  Reconciliation has to be earned.  Have you talked with the person and has this person understood the offense and now is willing to change?  You need to build some confidence in this person’s behavior and this will come if the person begins to behave in a way as to earn your trust.

Learn more at What Forgiveness Is Not.

After 50 Years of “Living as an Angry Person,” Forgiveness Brings Peace

WIBC-FM, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA – Although she is known around the world for forgiving the Nazis who tortured her during World War II, Eva Mozes Kor reveals in a newly-released film that she lived for nearly 50 years as an angry person before learning to forgive.Eva Moses Kor, Forgiveness, Eva

“I was very angry with many people. I was in a lot of pain,” said Kor as she reflected on her life and how uncomfortable she was baring her soul for the documentary “Eva” that was released in April.

“Forgive your worst enemies. It will heal your soul and it will set you free,” Kor says in the new film narrated by Ed Asner. It documents Kor’s life, her travels and struggles and how she became the person who was able to forgive the individuals who committed atrocities on her, and who killed her family and millions of other people.

Eva Moses Kor, forgiveness, Holocaust, EvaKor and her sister Miriam were the only survivors in their entire family and that was because they were twins who were separated from the others by the Nazis. Josef Mengele, a Nazi doctor, was fascinated with twins and performed experiments on Kor and her sister among others. The lingering effects are believed to be what killed her sister in 1992.

The Holocaust (in Hebrew, “Ḥurban” meaning “destruction”), was the systematic state-sponsored killing of six million Jewish men, women, and children and millions of others by Nazi Germany and its collaborators during World War II. The Germans called this “the final solution to the Jewish question.”

Even before the Nazis came to power in Germany in 1933, they had made no secret of their desire to eliminate all Jews. As early as 1919, Adolf Adolf Hitler, HolocaustHitler had written, “Rational anti-Semitism (discrimination against the Jews), must lead to systematic legal opposition.…Its final objective must unswervingly be the removal of the Jews altogether.”

In his political manifesto, Mein Kampf (“My Struggle”), Hitler further developed the idea of the Jews as an evil race struggling for world domination. Nazi racial ideology  characterized the Jews as  “subhumans” and “parasites” while the Aryans (Germans) were the “genius” race. Ultimately, the logic of Nazi racial anti-Semitism led to annihilation of millions of Jews. 

Five different people as a group have hurt me.  Do you recommend that I forgive one at a time or do I forgive them as a group?

Have the people played different roles in this group?  For example, was one the leader who started to hurt you and perhaps encouraged others to join?  If so, you probably should forgive one at a time.  I would recommend that you rate the degree of hurt that each person gave to you and start with the one who hurt you the least.  Once you think you have completed the forgiveness process with that person, move up the list to the next person.  Eventually, you will reach the one who has hurt you the most and you will be well-practiced in the process of forgiveness.

Learn more at How to Forgive.

Is the gift-giving to an offending other person a way to prove to yourself that you, indeed, have forgiven?

The gift-giving in its essence is not for the forgiver, but instead is for the one forgiven.  Forgiveness as a moral virtue is concerned with goodness and that goodness flows out of the forgiver to the forgiven.  While the gift-giving can be a sign to you that you have forgiven, that is not its primary function.  The primary function is to do good to the other as a moral act in and of itself.

Learn more about what forgiveness is and is not at What Is Forgiveness?