Forgiveness Must Come after Anger

I used to think that anger is evil.

A good, moral person doesn’t get mad at other people, I thought. If I am mad then there is something wrong with me. A moral thing to do is to forgive and forget.

Well, there is a catch to that.

Forgiving is a good thing. For yourself, more so than the recipient of the forgiveness. Forgiving means you no longer carry the burden of resentment toward someone. You become lighter, freer and more peaceful as a result.

That is a desired outcome, but you can’t jump to it. The need to forgive arises from some kind of transgression. Which resulted in you feeling angry.

And whether you have justifiable reasons to be angry or not, the anger is already there. You can’t bypass it to get to what is on the other side of it.

You have to acknowledge your anger and feel it, before you can forgive. In the other words, if you want to get to forgiveness, you’ll want to allow yourself to feel all the anger first.

There’s no use in judging it or attempting to tamp it down. Anger is a strong, powerful feeling. It is best if you give yourself permission to feel angry. Which is not the same thing as acting it out in front of, or toward the other party. But in your private time and space, allow the anger to come out.

Once you let the bulk of the anger out of your system, only then you can think about forgiving. But don’t rush it. If you can’t bring yourself to forgive, then you still have more feelings to go through.

The worst thing you can do is what I used to do. I thought forgiveness was the moral high ground and anger is not. So I ignored my anger and superficially forced myself to forgive. Which was not a true forgiveness. I was never free and I still had all these stuck resentments.

Get angry first, so you can forgive.