Posted by: arijnovick | December 28, 2010

Anger Management and the Art of Forgiveness

One of the essential ingredients to learning how to better manage and control anger is through forgiveness.  This concept is taught in almost every quality anger management program and one of the eight tools of anger control in the Century Anger Management model of intervention.  Forgiveness is, by definition “to stop feeling anger toward (someone who has done something wrong) : to stop blaming (someone) [+ obj]”.  When we learn how to forgive, we actually learn how to let go of our anger and pain associated with a particular person, situation or problem.

For some, learning how to forgive is difficult because a grudge or grievance has already been formed.  It is often hard to let go of a grudge.  In many ways, grudges protect us, but they have one big fault, they do not allow us to let go and be free of the anger.  The skill of forgiveness can be learned by taking an anger management class or in a well structured online anger management course.

Anger management programs who include forgiveness as a skill will discuss several important ways this concept can be applied.  For example, forgiveness is not two sided (either you forgive or you don’t).  Forgiveness can be broken into several steps such as:

1. You do not have to forgive all at once, it can be an organic process that happens over time.
2. You do not have to agree that what happened to you was “OK”, in fact, you can let the other person know how wrong they where, but then let go of your grievance.
3. Forgiving and trusting are separate issues.  Trusting too quickly may be more of an indication of low self esteem.  Forgiving can be happen quickly if you choose, but trusting takes time.
4. You can forgive someone, but it doesn’t mean you need to continue a relationship with them.
5. Forgiving is always for yourself.  The bi-product of forgiveness is that the other person often feels better too knowing they’ve been forgiven.
6. Sometimes you forgive without saying anything at all.  There are some people that might even be offended by your suggestion of forgiveness.
7. Forgive in increments.  Eventually you’ll be able to let go.

We use forgiveness as a skill in anger management because by letting go of our pain and anger we no longer carry the hostility and contempt along with us everywhere we go and every relationship we enter.  Give it a try and see if you can let go too!

Ari Novick, Ph.D.
AJ Novick Group, Inc. Anger Management


  1. Ari,

    The concept of forgiveness is a perfect one to keep in mind as we leave 2010 and move into a new year. Remembering that forgiveness is not necessarily about the other person but for the sake of my own peace of mind has often enabled me to let go of painful resentments.
    Wishing you and Century Anger Management all the best in 2011!

    Sarah Cheedle, LCSW

  2. Thank you, Sarah. I completely agree.

    Dr. Novick

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