What does science say is the most difficult unit of your Forgiveness Process Model of 20 steps?

We first have to keep in mind that the science basically is looking for generalities or that which is typical.  So often, this quest for the normal or typical overlooks the individually personal characteristics of many people. With that said, we tend to find that many people say the initial decision to forgive, to commit to the forgiveness process, is the most difficult unit of the Forgiveness Process Model.  I think this might be the case because change or transition can be scary.  If you think about it, moving to a new city or starting a new job or starting a new exercise program as you walk through the gym doors for the first time can be a challenge.  Starting on a forgiveness path represents hard work and unknown challenges.  I think this is why many people say that this is the hardest part of the forgiveness process.

For additional information, see  The Four Phases of Forgiveness. 

I’m not buying forgiveness.  Someone was really, really rude to me recently.  Forget this person!  As I forget, I have no need of forgiveness.  Anyway, forgiveness is more of an illusion than anything else.  When we forgive we artificially convince ourselves that what the other did was not so bad.  This is not for me.

First, I am sorry that you have been treated very badly.  Your anger is typical for those recently and deeply hurt.  We never put pressure on people to forgive, especially when the wounds are fresh and a legitimate time for anger is needed.  Please keep in mind that once some time passes, your feelings about forgiveness may change.  I am not saying that they absolutely will, but I am encouraging you to be open to a possible change in your attitude toward forgiveness.  Finally, and only when you are ready, you might want to explore more deeply what forgiveness actually is.  When we forgive, we do not condone what the other person did.  What happened was wrong, is wrong, and always will be wrong. What changes in forgiveness is our stance toward the other person.  We begin to see the worth in the other person, not because of what happened, but in spite of this.  I wish you well in your emotional healing.

For additional information, see Forgiveness Defined. 

I started the forgiveness process, but I am stuck on the idea that I might be able to have some compassion for the one who injured me.  This is not possible.  So, am I flunking the forgiveness test?

You definitely are not “flunking the forgiveness test” if you are unable to feel compassion toward the other.  Please keep in mind the following points: First, forgiveness takes time and so please be gentle with yourself. Second, we are not necessarily in control of our emotions, especially one as delicate as compassion, or a tender suffering along with the other.  Third, please resist trying to force compassion.  It likely will come only with time and the continual practice of forgiving.  This could be many months.  Fourth and finally, you do not have to forgive in its complete sense to have forgiven the person.  Even if you can see his or her mistakes, pain, and confusion, this may be sufficient for your forgiving, at least for now.

For additional information, see Forgiveness Defined. 

How can one keep motivated to stay with the forgiveness process if it is not working after a few months?

First, please keep in mind that it can take many months to forgive, especially if the injustice was severe and you are deeply hurt.  I recommend that you focus on your strong will.  You probably have had to use that strong will at times in the past, for example, to overcome a soft-tissue injury, or to persevere on a work or school project.  Try to remember one incident of appropriating and persevering in this strong will.  Now apply it to forgiving.  You have a challenge and staying with that challenge by continuing to practice forgiving may lead to even a small improvement in your anger, in your well-being, and possibly even in your relationship with the other person.  Any of these as small improvements might increase your motivation of staying with the forgiveness process.

For additional information, see  The Four Phases of Forgiveness. 

I am a religious person and it seems to me that the cosmic perspective would work best with this kind of transcendent approach to life.  Do you agree or not?

Yes, those who have a religious perspective often can and are willing to take an eternal perspective on the one who harmed you.  In other words, the cosmic perspective asks you to go beyond the physical world and ask such questions as these: Is it possible that you might meet the other person in the afterlife?  Did God make this person and you?  If so, what does this mean about who this person is……and about who you are as a person?

For additional information, see The Personal, Global, and Cosmic Perspectives.

Can you give me one major tip for helping a friend to consider forgiving a family member with whom he used to be very close?

As one tip, I would ask this: Suppose you do not forgive this person.  Further suppose that you meet this person 20 years from now.  How will you feel then if you continue to harbor resentment?  Now consider that you may forgive the person…….and you meet 20 years from now.  How will you feel then, having forgiven?  The contrast between the answers to these two questions might motivate your friend to consider forgiving sooner rather than later.

For additional information, see 8 Reasons to Forgive.

How can I get rid of my anger if I do not confront the person at whom I am very angry?

It seems that you might be trying to seek justice or maybe even a bit of payback from the person.  I have found that the quest for justice does not always end this kind of anger.  In fact, the quest for justice sometimes can increase the anger if the justice is not realized.  A more sure way of reducing your anger is to try to forgive, but only if you are ready to do so.  You can forgive without the other person being present by engaging in the exercises of what we call the personal, global, and cosmic perspectives.  The gist of these exercises is to see the other in a much broader context than the hurts against you. Try to see the wounds in the other; try to see the common humanity that both of you share.  Such perspectives do take time and so please be gentle with yourself during this time.

For additional information, see The Personal, Global, and Cosmic Perspectives.