When I forgive my former boyfriend, I find that I tend to make excuses for his behavior.  I don’t like it when I see that I am making excuses.  How do I avoid this?

There is a big difference between what we call **reframing** a person’s actions and excusing those actions.  For example, if you see that he was under pressure and displaced his anger onto you, you can forgive while at the same time acknowledging that he should not have treated you this way.  An excuse is to say that displacing anger is ok, acceptable, or not morally wrong.  When you forgive and start to reframe whom the other person is, try to keep in mind that the behavior still is not fair.  Your separating a person and his actions may help you to avoid excusing the actions as you forgive the person.

Learn more at How to Forgive.

Is there such a thing as Political Forgiveness, for example, to handle border disputes?

Yes, and this is sometimes called group forgiveness.  Group forgiveness is different from one person forgiving another.  In the latter, a person can change feeling, thoughts, and behaviors toward an offending other.  Groups do not have feeling and thoughts (individuals within groups have the feeling and thoughts).  So, only actions are part of group forgiveness such as proclamations of forgiveness or establishing norms within the group to try to be kind toward the other group as justice is pursued.

Here is the abstract of a journal article on this issue:

Enright, R.D., Lee, Y.R., Hirshberg, M.J., Litts, B.K., Schirmer, E.B., Irwin, A.J., Klatt, J., Hunt, J., & Song, J.Y. (2016).  Examining group forgiveness: Conceptual and empirical issues.  Peace and Conflict: Journal of Peace Psychology, 22, 153-162.

Can a person get rid of anger permanently simply by letting it out or is forgiveness necessary to be rid of anger?

The answer depends on the level of injustice and the depth of the anger.  If the other was insensitive without being cruel, then your expressing an appropriate, measured level of anger may take care of the issue.  On the other hand, if you have been treated very unfairly and your anger is deep, then catharsis (letting out the anger) may not be effective.  Forgiveness then may be required to rid yourself of the anger.  Please keep in mind that catharsis by itself, when the problem is serious and the anger is deep, actually can increase the anger and lead to a pattern of being angry and expressing it.  Catharsis then needs forgiveness to deal in a healthy way with the anger.

Learn more at How to Forgive.

My spouse keeps up subtle put-downs on me.  I forgive….and forgive again….and it keeps happening.  I am growing weary of forgiving. Help!

When you forgive, try also to ask for fairness once your anger is lower.  Forgiveness and justice need to exist side-by-side.  From a position of reduced anger, consider letting your spouse know of your inner hurt from these “subtle put-downs.”  Your spouse needs to hear this so that a change in behavior can occur, and perhaps an asking-for-forgiveness from you.

Learn more at Forgiveness for Couples.

I am about half-way through the process of forgiveness and I now am realizing that what happened was not entirely the other person’s fault.  I “pushed his button” and he got angry.  Is it ok to abandon the process of forgiveness under this circumstance?

Are you still angry with the other person?  If not, then forgiving may not be necessary.  Are you concluding that there was no actual injustice against you?  If so, then forgiving may not be necessary.  If you see the other as simply reacting with a reasonable level of anger and if there is no harm to you, then yes, setting forgiveness aside is reasonable. If, in the future, you find that you do harbor resentment, the starting up the forgiveness process again would be fine.

Learn more at Why Forgive?

Can you give me one example of how an attempt at forgiving can be immoral or inappropriate?

Forgiving in its essence is never immoral because it is part of the moral good of this world.  When you offer unconditional kindness and even love to someone who hurt you, while protecting yourself against further wrong, this is goodness itself.  Yet, when a person does not fully understand what forgiveness is, it is this distorted notion of forgiveness that can be inappropriate.  An example is using the act of forgiving to exert power over the other.  The “forgiver” might constantly remind the other of his or her offense and how hard and noble it is to forgive.  This, of course, is not forgiveness at all but a distortion of it.

Learn more at What Is Forgiveness.

I want to forgive but quite frankly it scares me.  I don’t get why I am so scared to forgive.  Can you provide some insights for me?

You might be scared because you think that to forgive is to cave in to the other’s demands and unjust treatment. To forgive is to offer goodness from a position of strength as you stand against the injustice, bear the pain of what happened, and offer a hand of encouragement to the other in the hope that he or she will change.

You might be scared because forgiveness is new to you and so, being unfamiliar with the process, it is the change itself that is scary. It is like moving to a new apartment or starting a new job. The unexplored is scary until we adjust. Trying to engage in the process of forgiveness will give you a chance to see its life-giving properties and reduce the scary part of starting this new journey.

Learn more about forgiveness in 8 Keys to Forgiving.