I have forgiven my partner but at times I get angry about what she did to me.  How can I avoid these feelings and forgive permanently?

As the late Lewis Smedes used to say, forgiveness is an imperfect activity for imperfect people.  Even if anger surfaces occasionally, please do not grow discouraged.  You can forgive again and it likely will take less time than previously and lead to better results.  The idea of “permanent” forgiveness is not necessarily going to happen in all people for all circumstances.  Having some anger left over happens to many people, especially when the injustice is deep.  So, please be gentle with yourself and please do not expect absolute perfection as you grow in the moral virtue of forgiveness.

For additional information, see Forgiveness for Couples.

I started the forgiveness process but out of sheer fatigue, I stopped for a while.  I want to start up again and now I have a question.  Should I start at the beginning or continue where I left off?

This depends on how long it has been since you previously were practicing forgiveness. If you have left the process for a few weeks, I suggest that you start at the beginning.  This does not mean that it will take you a long time to get to where you left off.  Some of the challenges in the early part of forgiveness (such as uncovering the effects of resentment) likely will be confronted quickly so that you can keep going in the forgiveness process.

For additional information, see The Four Phases of Forgiveness.

Is there anything I can do to encourage my brother to forgive me?

Did you apologize?  Did you show him that you are aware of your error and have taken steps not to repeat it?  This may help him establish trust in you which may help him to forgive you.  You will need patience as he makes up his own mind.  Your trying to put pressure on him to forgive will not be helpful.  He needs to see the value of forgiveness and willingly say yes to it.

For additional information, see Learning to Forgive Others.

I have a roommate who is very angry with his mother.  It seems to me that he has built up a story on his mother that is exaggerated, in other words, not entirely true.  What do you suggest I do to help him forgive?

First, it would be best to have him think as carefully and as rationally as possible to sort out what is true and what is false regarding the mother’s actions.  He needs to take a courageous view of the truth of the mother’s actual injustice.   Once this occurs, he should be able to see the exact injustices in which the mother engaged.  Your roommate then can pick out one incident and forgive his mother for that one.  Then he can move to another incident.  Little by little, he may forgive so that his resentment lessens and he can consider approaching his mother with a deeper sense of her inherent worth.

For additional information, see What Is Forgiveness?

What are the different meanings to the word “forget” when we say, “Forgive and forget”?

I think people usually mean this: Do not let the previous injustice get in the way of your relationship now.  It does not means this: Do not remember the other person’s weaknesses so that you are vulnerable to continued injustices.  In other words, “forget” means this: Remember in new ways, without deep anger, and watch your back.

For additional information, see Forgiveness Defined.

What is one major difference between forgiving other people and forgiving yourself?

When you forgive others, if you did nothing wrong, then you do not ask for forgiveness.  When you forgive yourself, you usually offend others by what you did.  Thus, self-forgiveness involves not only welcoming yourself back into the human community but also seeking forgiveness from others for hurting them by this particular action.

For additional information, see Self-Forgiveness.

What is a healthy way of expressing anger?

A good way to start is by asking this question to yourself: “How will my specific way of expressing anger affect the other person(s) who are present when I express it?”  In other words, your expression has an effect not only on you but on others.  If you keep this in mind, your expression of that anger may be more temperate and thus not emotionally injure those who are present.

For additional information, see What Is Forgiveness?