I am not in favor of focusing only on behavior and then saying, “What the person did was bad.”  No.  There are bad people and we can truly say, “This is a bad person.”  Do you agree?

I would agree with the following:  Humans, unlike any other primates, have a free will. This unique characteristic allows us to make choices that can affect our very humanity.  Given this premise that we all have free will, and given the further premise that our choices can affect our humanity, it then follows that we can grow in our humanity, growing toward the greater good.  If this is the case, then, through our free will choices, we can either grow in our humanity (toward the good of justice, courage, wisdom, temperance, forgiveness, and agape love in service to others) or diminish in our humanity (toward treating others as objects, cowardice, deliberately bad choices, greatly excessive behaviors, hatred, and selfishness).  I would avoid the term “bad person.”  Why?  It is because a diminished humanity, forged by a free will of bad choices, always can be reversed by that very same free will that diminished the person’s true humanity (the goodness mentioned above).  If we say someone is a “bad person” this is too permanent a label, given the free will possibility of reversing the choices that led to the stereotype of others calling the person “bad.”

For additional information, see Why Forgive?  

What are some tips you can give me to figure out exactly why I am so angry?

In my book, The Forgiving Life (2012), I have an exercise that I call The Forgiveness Landscape. In this exercise, you start in your childhood and try to recall the central unjust incidents and the people who were unjust to you. You then rate your level of anger on a 1-to-10 scale. You do the same for your adolescence, and the same for your adult years. You then order the people/incidences from the lowest (but still significant in your life) to the highest levels of anger. This will give you a profile of your anger. I then recommend that you start with the lowest level of anger and forgive that person. Move up the anger-ladder until you have forgiven the person toward whom you have the most anger. This should aid you in not only gaining insight into your anger, but also at whom you are angry, and then to rid yourself of that anger.

For additional information, see  The Four Phases of Forgiveness.

My roommate forgave her boyfriend. Yet, she keeps talking about how mean he was to her. Why would she keep talking about it if she has forgiven him?

It is possible that your roommate has forgiven her boyfriend only to a point, but not completely. It seems that she still has residual anger that is bothering her. Also, even if she has forgiven him, she now may be struggling with the issue of reconciliation, or whether or not to continue the relationship. If she is talking about this as a call for help from you, then you might ask what her level of trust is with the boyfriend. See if she is struggling with the issue of reconciliation. It could be that she a) has forgiven, but not deeply yet, in which case she needs more time in the forgiveness process, or b) she is struggling with the issue of whether to reconcile or not.

Learn more at Forgiveness for Couples.

I have started the forgiveness process, but I have stopped because it is too painful. Should I go back to this process soon or would time off be more beneficial?

The key is this: When you look within, what do you see regarding your starting again? Do you have any motivation to try or not? If you have no motivation at all, then you need more time. Another question to ask yourself is this: Do I have the virtue of courage to go ahead? Courage can be part of the motivation. Another question is this: Do I have the energy right now to move forward with forgiving? Sometimes we need a rest and this is not dishonorable. As a final question, you might ask yourself this: Do I need to forgive someone else first? If the one you are trying to forgive has been deeply unfair, you might consider first forgiving someone for a lesser offense. You then can get more used to the forgiveness process, build up what I call “the forgiveness muscles” and then try to forgive the one who is more of a challenge.

For additional information, see The Four Phases of Forgiveness.

How can someone become vulnerable enough to accept the pain caused by another person and to ask for help when needed so that forgiveness becomes possible?

I think the key to this is humility. We have to practice the virtue of humility if we are to admit to ourselves the depth of our pain, to accept that we are hurt, and then to bear that pain. It also takes humility for us to realize that we need help. Asking for help is not dishonorable. We do this when we need medical treatment for a broken bone, for example. Humility, it seems to me, is not emphasized enough in our “get tough” society. Assertiveness has its place, but it is not the only response to moral injury. Humility has a rightful place in accepting one’s suffering, seeking help, and starting the forgiveness process.

For additional information, see What is Forgiveness?

I am someone who is part of what they call the “minority” in my country. Quite frankly, I am unhappy with it, with the subtle “put-downs” and the like. People in my country have the expression of, “Fight for justice.” So, then, what place is left for forgiving?

We need to realize that forgiveness and justice are not mutually exclusive. Some people believe that to forgive is to take too soft an approach in striving for justice. In other words, they think that to forgive is to lose what they deserve. Yet, this definitely need not be the case. As people forgive, they can see more clearly through the fog of anger. They can see what is truly fair and then ask for that fairness in a way that is civil. They just might have a better chance of getting fairness than if they let anger dictate how they respond and for what they ask.

For additional information, see Forgiveness Defined.

I started to forgive a friend, but then he never responded to me. Can I forgive even if I get no response from him or should I just abandon the process of forgiveness?

Because forgiving is a moral virtue, it can be practiced unconditionally, regardless of the other’s response to you. You would be offering a gentleness to that other in spite of what was done to you. If the other refuses your gift, and if the person is not trustworthy, then you need not reconcile. Yet, you still can proceed with forgiving the person for the past injustice and even for his ignoring you as you offer forgiveness.

For additional information, see Choose Love, Not Hate.