The Forgiveness Speech

Look, it's on my to-do list, OK!?!

Look, it's on my to-do list, OK!?!

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.

About Graham

I combine trauma awareness, emotional healing and comedy to heal painful events from your past, so you can live a future life you love.
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6 Responses to The Forgiveness Speech

  1. icejapples says:

    Hi Graham,

    Can you tell me more about this, "Expressing anger cleanly and using it's energy to get your needs met is the way to stop drinking the poison and truly forgive." ?

    Thanks

    • Graham says:

      Sure: the idea is to turn your anger into assertiveness, so that you get your needs met. Once the anger and other associated emotions like grief/sadness are expressed assertively and you get your needs met, you won't feel angry any more. It can be a challenging journey though, which is why we often hang onto resentment for a long time. I'm curious about your experience with forgiveness?

      • icejapples says:

        Thanks for the reply.

        I am just starting to look into forgiveness so I don't have any experience yet.

        I was the typical nice guy most of my life like you described in your video and posts. I had an angry father and vowed not to be like him, and also decided that anger was bad.

        Without the weapon of anger I walked through the world full of anxiety and felt powerless to everyone.

        After dealing with that by claiming my anger back, I noticed that I had lots more anger that was repressed. Rage really, at my parents for putting me through the experience they did. It wasn't horrific or newspaper worthy but was mildly traumatic nonetheless.

        As an adult I am not under their power anymore as I am as, or more powerful than they are and my inner child wants justice! I have spoken to them and they both said sorry but weren't really engaged and weren't willing to really hear everything and/or pay a price (i.e. feeling badly, owning their mistakes, saying that what they did was wrong, etc...). They are too immature and partially willfully blind. They hope to say a quick 'sorry' and scoop it under the rug and live happily ever after. They are nice to me now but that's because I won't let them be anything else. I never said anything to them but the power shift caused it to happen naturally.

        So I sit here with all this internal rage and am not sure what to do with it. It is eating me up inside and what I really want is for some sort of justice/processing/ which i won't get.

        So I was looking at forgiveness to look for ways to let go of this anger. They or anyone else won't be able to do what they did to me again, but it drives me nuts that they are 'getting away with it'.

        ...

        • Graham says:

          Thanks for the clarification; I relate to what you've said a lot.

          Firstly, congratulations on the progress you've made so far! It sounds as though you've learned to access your anger to break the nice guy pattern and transform your relationship with your parents. That's a huge achievement in itself, so I hope you're feeling proud of yourself.

          That said, I get that you're still feeling a lot of rage and you're not sure what to do with it. It sounds as if you've realized that you're never really going to get a sense of justice from your parents because they are too immature and partially willfully blind. So the next step is to channel that rage into real-world action that builds the life that you want for yourself. Letting go of wanting justice for our past suffering is a process that takes time, but it happens a lot faster when the rest of our world starts falling into place.

          As Joseph Campbell, the "follow your bliss" guy said, "Find a place inside where there's joy, and the joy will burn out the pain". I'd be happy to talk more 1-on-1 about how to do this, if you'd like.

          Cheers,
          Graham

          • icejapples says:

            Thanks for the reply Graham.

            I am a full time and dad with a full time job and barely have time for much but thanks for the offer.

            You're not the first one I've heard talk about building the life one wants as a method to overcome the negative feelings that cling to us and nag us endlessly. Interesting.

            It's interesting also that you mentioned Joseph Campbell as I read one of his books on Mythology a long time ago. Maybe if I have time I'll pick it up again, or read more of his books.

            When I do have more free time (less than a year's time) then I might take you up on the 1-on-1 offer.

            Thanks again.

          • Graham says:

            You're welcome; sounds like you're flat out at the moment. No problem; drop me a line any time. Cheers, Graham

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