Everyone leaves a legacy; what is yours?

Forgiveness #5 - Anger and Forgiveness

If I am not sure if I need to forgive, I look to where I am angry. Or some type of angry - frustrated, irritated, bothered.

Then I look at who and what I am talking about to others/gossiping/venting.

Stories of mine that come out as I try to organize the irritation in my mind. An indication that there is pain somewhere for me, and forgiveness is something I need to consider.

Here are a few things to consider about anger and forgiveness.

Anger and Forgiveness:

  1. My anger is focused on a person (or people).

  2. My anger is intense in the moment.

  3. My anger can be seen in annoyance or irritation, many times with other people who were not involved in the original problem/experience.

  4. My anger can be passive (pretending I am not angry) or extreme (extra hostile).

  5. My anger can be regressive, meaning I can “put it away” because I don’t quite know what to do with it (this happens a lot with children - or adults who never learned how to be angry).

  6. My anger stays with me. I may not be angry at every moment of the day, but if I am triggered in any meaningful way, out comes my anger…because it had just been waiting inside me.

  7. My anger is based on a real pain or hurt, a real in justice or unfairness, not something that I created or imagined in my mind.

*Adapted from Enright & Fitzgibbons, Helping Clients Forgive

Forgiveness #4 - What Forgiveness is NOT

What Forgiveness is NOT:

  • Pardon -A pardon is a legal process where someone else decides to give the wrong-doer freedom.

  • Condoning - Recognizing the wrong-doing but you put up with it (e.g. inappropriate behavior from a boss but don’t do anything about it in order to keep your job)

  • Excusing - Decide the problem is not worth an interaction.

  • Reconciliation - An effort by both parties to reestablish trust and a sense of safety in the relationship.

  • Forgetting - Putting the past behind you.

  • A balancing of the scales - Tit for tat. Even in small ways where we might like to blend in some justice, or adding a pinch of revenge. Example: adding a strong suggestion or a passive-aggressive comment.

  • Erasing accountability. No one can escape that they are responsible for their actions.

  • Saying the words, “I forgive you.” Forgiveness is both a decision and a process that requires more than just words.

Forgiveness #3 - What Forgiveness IS

What is Forgiveness?

There is plenty on what it is not (e.g. reconciliation). More on that tomorrow.

Forgiveness is a mysterious and complicated experience. It requires giving something undeserved to your offender, and choosing not to forgive saddles you with an emotional burden.

Because of that, the reality of the burden, a fresh understanding of what forgiveness is helps us know exactly what we are agreeing to when we forgive.

Here are three definitions I like, all different. See if one suits you.

1) Forgiveness is a choice we make and the ability to forgive comes from the recognition that we are all flawed and all human. Forgiveness is truly the grace by which we enable another person to get up, and get up with dignity, to begin anew. Without forgiveness, we remain tethered to the person who harmed us. Forgiveness, in other words, is the best for of self-interest.

2) People, upon rationally determining that they have been unfairly treated, forgiven when they willfully abandon resentment and related responses (to which they have a right), and endeavor to respond to the wrongdoer based on the moral principle of beneficence, which may include compassion, unconditional worth, generosity, and moral love (to which the wrongdoer, by nature of the harmful act or acts, has no right).

3) Forgiveness is emotional replacement of unforgiveness with forgiving emotions. It can begin with changed decisions, thoughts or actions. The memory of the hurt remains, but it is associated with different emotions. The way of forgiveness is hard. In many ways, the destructive path of unforgiveness is much easier than the touch, steely pull of forgiveness.

Forgiveness #1 - The Freedom Forgiveness Offers

In honor of July 4th:

Consider the FREEDOM that forgiveness brings.

There is a lot to gain in forgiveness, which is often quite difficult to give.

Here are a few that can be gained in forgiveness:


  1. from the weight of a burden

  2. from concentrating on the past

  3. from tangled ruminating

  4. from heavy, negative emotions

  5. of personal choice

  6. of changing perspective

  7. of personal power in a painful experience

  8. of experience outside of anger

  9. to open up the future

  10. to pursue something new

  11. to engage in self-love and self-compassion

  12. to make a decision.

Forgiveness can be quite emotionally expensive… and yet we can gain much from it.

Forgiveness #2 - Forgiveness Is Complicated

July’s Monthly Focus = Forgiveness.

Forgiveness is both challenging and complicated.

Forgiveness includes GIVING - giving your wrong-doer something to which they have no right. This is a hurdle in the forgiveness process that often stops most people.

The giving of something undeserved.

And yet, understanding the experience of unforgiveness is extremely important as well. Forgiveness also includes GETTING. When we choose to forgive, we get (some) of the things we want most, relief for one.

But without forgiving, we regularly sip an emotional cocktail of resentment, barbed rumination, hostility, bitterness, simmering anger, electrical irritation, fear and hatred.

For each and every one of us, the decision to forgive, to pursue a forgiveness process is both challenging and serious.

©2015 Sally H Falwell, PsyD, PC dba Legacy - Assessment, Counseling and Consulting

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