A form of unsolicited advice typically launched by anger denialists in response to me saying that I feel angry about something. Especially prominent when the anger is directed towards my mother in response to some form of destructive behaviour that she has indulged in for most of my life.
The launch of The Forgiveness Speech typically goes something like this:
Graham: “I feel angry when my mother criticises and belittles my father in front of me”
Denialist: “You need to learn to forgive”
Other variants include:
- “Being angry is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die”
- “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry”
- “You will not be punished for your anger; you will be punished by your anger”
... or some other enlightened spiritual wisdom.
These people really piss me off.
It's not that what they are saying is wrong, it's the fact that they're making me wrong for the way I feel. It's a feeling avoidance tactic: Deep down they're full of unacknowledged rage that they don't want to face and they'd rather shut down my healthy expression of anger than face their own.
While the intention behind the forgiveness speech is somewhat helpful, it lacks any meaningful process for dealing with anger other than the implied repression or denial. Let's just pretend that we're not angry, and we'll all be happier. I don't think so.
The irony of this is that acknowledging our anger is the first step towards accepting and releasing it. Expressing anger cleanly and using it's energy to get your needs met is the way to stop drinking the poison and truly forgive.