Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Speaking at UN on forgiveness was great. Will be in India working with Tibetans teaching forgiveness. Be back mid June.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Back from Rome. Worked on"Council for Forgiveness" go to www.findingforgiveness.blogspot.com. for more info. Awesome

The Council For Dignity, Forgiveness and Reconciliation

During the week of April 19, 2010 I was in Rome attending meetings as a member of the Council for Dignity, Forgiveness, and Reconciliation. Created by Maria Nicoletta Gaida the Council is part of the Ara Pacis Initiative initiated by the Glocal Forum Italy Foundation and promoted by the City of Rome with the High Patronage of the Republic of Italy and under the auspices of the Prime Minister and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Ara Pacis Initiative is dedicated to the human dimension of peace before, during and after conflict. This project has attracted the active interest of the President of the State of Israel, Shimon Peres, and the President of the Palestinian National Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, and has been favorably received by H.M. Mohammed VI, the King of Morocco.

The project aims to launch an active reflection on forgiveness, in its various religious and cultural meanings, as a moral, spiritual and political tool for achieving reconciliation among peoples – with a particular focus on the Mediterranean and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is an initiative that will bring to light and recognize the root causes of contemporary suffering and the wounds buried deep in collective memory in order to restore dignity to those who have suffered, thereby creating the premise for a reconciliation that allows for the building of a common future.

The heart of the Ara Pacis Initiative is the Council for Dignity, Forgiveness, and Reconciliation, made up primarily of men and women who have suffered personally because of armed conflict and who have chosen the path of forgiveness, and forgiveness and reconciliation experts and practitioners who work to imagine a new community, to propose the way of political forgiveness, and to develop ongoing activities aimed at raising awareness of the necessity of working on the path of forgiveness/reconciliation through education as well as intercultural and inter-religious dialogue in all fields. Through concrete projects the Council will aim to transform relations between communities in conflict to help them take the paths of reconciliation. The work of the Council will be to share their knowledge, experiences and insight concerning dignity, forgiveness and reconciliation, and initiating projects such as sending small teams of experts to promote approaches rarely used, but dramatically necessary – like forgiveness with justice, restoring dignity, and healing from trauma.

The Council will work in strict coordination with the national and international diplomatic channels and in collaboration with grassroots organizations active on the ground – on initiatives promoting reflection and participation of the various populations in the area of forgiveness. It will guide the activities related to the gathering and documenting of testimonies of conflict victims to memorialize them, as well as the selection of representatives of the victims from all sides – as victimization from hate and violence leaves no side untouched – to participate in the Council’s hearings.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Council for Dignity, Forgiveness and Reconciliation

I will be working on the creation of a "Council for Dignity, Forgiveness and Reconciliation" in Rome from April 18- 26. The people on the council are a group of wise and authoritative human beings who could lead the world down the paths of understanding, forgiveness and reconciliation; a body which proposes a new form of justice, which symbolically unites the human family and is at the service of peoples in conflict, that they should not be left alone in the folly of hatred and injustice; so that dignity and forgiveness can be striven for even in the heart of darkness, so that voices of sanity and of light may be heard when calls for punishment and revenge suffocate even the remotest desire for peace, so that historical wrongs, contemporary greed, spiritual derailment and the power to humiliate can be revealed and addressed in order to create space for reconciliation. I will speak more about this when I return from Rome.

For more information on forgiveness please go to "Finding Forgiveness: A 7 Step Program for Letting Go of Anger and Bitterness" published by McGraw-Hill and to the blog on forgiveness: http://findingforgiveness.blogspot.com


Your Forgiveness Moment Will be in Rome working on Council for Forgiveness and Reconciliation Back April 28

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Your Forgiveness Moment: Forgiveness and Amish Grace http://ping.fm/ErXyY

Forgiveness and Amish Grace

Is it possible to forgive a murderer? Would you be able to forgive the person who MURDERED someone you loved very deeply? This was the subject of the movie “Amish Grace” shown on the Lifetime Movie Network. The movie is based on a true story about the Amish community who within the fabric of their beings embraced the thinking which is the scaffolding of forgiveness. This community demonstrates how difficult it is to forgive even when deeply steeped in religious beliefs forgiveness is engrained. They also demonstrate how powerful forgiveness is in the healing of the soul.

On October 2, 2006 Carl Roberts entered into a one room school house in the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. He lined up 11 young girls and shot them at point blank range. Roberts killed five of the girls and then killed himself. In an amazing act of courage the oldest girl, 13-year-old Marian Fisher asked Roberts to shoot her first. She hoped that she could spare the lives of the younger girls. And what was even more remarkable was that in just a few hours after the shooting an Amish neighbor went to the Roberts family to comfort them and to offer forgiveness.

A grandfather of one of the girls killed was telling the boys to forgive what had just happened as they prepared the body of one of the little girls for burial. How many of you could have done that? How many of you could have told the young boys that “We must not think evil of this man?” Yet these were the words of the grandfather. And what is even more unimaginable is that five days later the families who lost their daughters attended the funeral of the man who had killed them. They went not in anger or for retribution, but to comfort the family and let them know that all was forgiven.

The Amish learned to let go of their pain and suffering. What makes the Amish so remarkable is that they chose to see, using the words of Jerry Jampolsky, “the light instead of the lampshade” and saw the situation with spiritual sight, that although what this man did was an act of evil – inwardly, it was a cry for help. They were able to go beyond what their physical eyes were telling them and recognized that Roberts too was worthy of love. They were able to see Roberts not through the lens of anger, fear or guilt, but through the eyes of understanding and compassion.

As we struggle with our own difficulties in being able to forgive, we also open ourselves up to a benevolent force which is far more powerful than we could ever be. This creative force which is sometimes experienced as grace, is that inexplicable power which comes from something beyond ourselves. This power gives us the ability to forgive even when we feel within our hearts, forgiveness is humanly impossible. This moment of grace creates a profound interior renovation which completely changes the way we think. Instead of perceiving the situation through our judgments we see things differently, through what I call spiritual sight. When it happens, you can feel the power and presence of a higher intervention which transforms your relationships as you experience an outpouring of this inexplicable love.

This is the love which enabled the Amish to pray for everyone involved in what took place on October 2nd, not only for the innocent little girls who got killed and those still to recover, but for the killer himself. They knew that by expressing love it would bring about healing for all those concerned, whereas to take on and express the same evil as the attacker, that would only support evil and allow it to spread. The Amish learned that when we forgive we let our pain go.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Forgiveness Persons of the Week - The Michael Cooney family

Forgiveness stories are inspiring. Reading about the Cooney family is no exception. On Thursday, March 18th, 2010 a hearing took place in which the family of a Duluth murder victim begged for the mercy. The entire courtroom including the judge was riveted by what they heard.

The story began last July when Curtis Cooney was shot in the head and killed by a man named Philbert “Randy” Barnes who was firing a gun into a crowd of people. In January “Randy” Barnes was convicted of 2nd degree murder and 2nd degree attempted murder. This past Thursday the judge handed down the sentence. Both families were present. But before the judge spoke of his sentence the Cooney family wanted to speak.

Heidi Cooney, the victim’s mother began by saying “I was raised to be forgiving, and if you want others to forgive you you need to forgive.” Curtis Cooney’s sister began to cry commenting that she lost her best friend that night. The two of them had a very special bond. Then Curtis’s father reminded everyone that “If Curtis could be here today he would forgive you, and so do we.” Cooney Sr. asked the judge to show Barnes mercy.

The Barnes family was also present in the courtroom. The older brother, tearfully apologizing to the Cooney family begged for forgiveness. Then the judge acknowledged that what he heard was extraordinary and he would take into account all that was said. After a brief recess the judge announced the sentence. Barnes was to receive 14 years in jail for attempted murder and 29 years for murder to run concurrently. Judge Johnson told those in the courtroom that it was because of “the grace of the Cooney family” he elected to sentence Barnes concurrently. The court was moved by the fact that the Cooney family forgave Barnes and that it wasn’t looking for retribution. The judge felt that it was “extraordinary” in the way the murder victim’s family and the defendant’s family came together. Steven Bynum, Barnes brother walked over to Michael Cooney and shook his hand and rubbed his cheek. Bynum then expressed his thanks to the Cooney family for the “grace, love and compassion” they extended to his family.

Once outside the courtroom Cooney Sr. said “If you’re truly consumed with hate and bitterness, that hurts you more than anything else. Carrying around hate and rage is not good for a person. Once you forgive someone, the healing process can truly begin.”

Steven Bynum responded by saying “We want Curtis Cooney’s family to have peace and that they can go forward in the joy and love of the Lord, that’s the most important thing. . .The absolute love and mercy that the Cooney family has shown to our family is just unforgettable. . . The second most important thing is that my brother have the opportunity to rebuild his life again and to take stock in what has happened. The greatest honor that he could give to the Cooney family, to Curtis and to all of us that love and support him is that he build his life anew, that he find God, and that he takes that love and joy and extends it to others. Today was an example of the power of forgiveness and redemption and reconciliation.”

When reading this, what thoughts did you have? I would appreciate hearing them. If you have a forgiveness story you would like to share please submitted through my website www.dreileenborris.com. By sharing your stories and your struggles it will touch many other lives. You can learn more about how to forgive in “Finding Forgiveness: A 7 Step Program for Letting go of Anger and Bitterness” published by McGraw-Hill.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Giving Away Your Power - And Reclaiming it Through Forgiveness

Are you still holding on to hurtful feelings about something that has happened in the past? Pain can be difficult to let go of. And yet have you ever realized that by holding on to these painful feelings you are giving away your power and control to the person who has hurt you? The truth is, when we blame another person for how we feel, we give them power and control over our emotional well-being. Since we already feel hurt by what was done to us, giving people control will only add to and prolong our suffering.

Think about it for a moment. Why would we want to give any control over to someone else who in many cases doesn’t really care about us, some of whom may even be cruel to us? After a while, if we continually blame the same person over and over again it becomes a habit and we get caught in a groove which becomes deeper and deeper. This leads us down the road of feeling helpless and hopeless and definitely like a victim. We now have become disempowered at someone else’s hands.

There is one point I would like to stress. Holding people accountable for their action is not the same as blaming them for how you feel. People can be forgiven for what they have done and also need to be held accountable for their actions. What leads to unnecessary suffering is making people responsible for your continued suffering. Remember, forgiveness allows us to regain our power, breaking the unhealthy behavior created by our anger, guilt or fear. Forgiveness requires that we do our inner work and it is this inner work which will set us free.

Exercise: Think of a time when you gave away your power to someone who may not have cared for you. It could be a cruel and abusive parent or relative, or a friend that didn’t necessarily have your best interest at heart. Or it could be a business associate who did something implying that it was “just business” totally disregarding how hard you may have worked. Or it could be a lover or spouse who has betrayed you.
Ask yourself – why am I spending so much time blaming so and so. Who is it really hurting? Why am I choosing to stay stuck in the past instead of living in the present moment and creating a more productive and peaceful future? Haven’t I suffered enough? Now look into the present and future where this situation is no longer an issue. What does your life look like now? How does it feel to be free of this burden? What have you learned about yourself? Now take a deep relaxing breathe and think about all the things to be thankful for. Hold gratitude and joy in your heart and go on with the rest of your day.

If you would like more help in learning how to forgive go to “Finding Forgiveness: A 7 Step Program for Letting go of Anger and Bitterness” published by McGraw-Hill, the website www.dreileenborris.com and the blog on forgiveness www.findingforgiveness.blogspot.com.
Your Forgiveness Moment: Giving Away Your Power - And Reclaiming it Through Forgiveness.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

It's All My Mothers Fault and No I will NOT Forgive Her!

I remember a friend of mine telling me how mad she was at her mother. It seemed as though every time they got into a car together they would fight. There was a litany of reasons why my friend would not forgive her mother – the least of which she was stuck in the blame game.

When we blame others we are accusing them of something we believe they have done to us. We are placing fault on others insisting that they are the cause of our misery. When we are hurt because of something that has happened in the past and still feel the pain in the present we look for reasons to explain our pain. The truth is that we can never really know all the reasons why someone has hurt us, and more importantly we do not usually take the time to go within ourselves to understand what part we may have played in our life circumstances. We usually take the easy way out and like a knee jerk reaction we blame others for what may be causing our pain. That is not to say that others do not behave poorly and do things that are hurtful. What I am talking about is that when we continually blame someone else for our painful feelings, instead of making us feel better, blaming actually makes us feel worse.

Blaming causes more pain. When we blame someone else for our suffering we believe that someone else is the cause of our pain and that we need something from that person to feel better. We are dependent on them for our well being. What we actually have done is disempowered ourselves, giving other people control over how we feel. We have chosen not to take responsibility for what we are feeling.

Blaming others becomes a habit, sinking us further into the victim role. Like being in quick sand we feel powerless to change our circumstances. Underneath our need to blame is another issue that we are consistently running away from – our own feelings of guilt. Whenever we are accusing someone (blaming) of something we are secretly blaming ourselves. The content may be different but the form will be the same. If we are blaming someone for nasty horrible things they have said to us, we may not say those same kinds of things to them but if we are honest with ourselves we certainly have said unkind things to others. The important point to remember is that we are not here to beat ourselves up when we learn things about ourselves we wish we hadn’t. Now that we have gained a new understanding about ourselves we can make different choices. When we see the humanness in ourselves it is easier to see the humanness in others. Being able to then forgive ourselves we can also forgive others and stop the blame game. And remember, holding on to guilt is a choice too.

You can find more information on how to stop the blame game and to heal our guilt in “Finding Forgiveness: A 7 Step Program for Letting Go of Anger and Bitterness” published by McGraw-Hill.
Your Forgiveness Moment It's All My Mothers Fault and No I will NOT Forgive her. Stop the Blame Game www.findingforgiveness.blogspot.com

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

I am speaking on Psych of Forgiveness Sat 3/13 at ASU Law for AZ Assoc for Conflict Res. for info contact kjosterman@earthlink.net

Friday, March 5, 2010

Your forgiveness moment: Why does it have to hurt so much and cna forgiveness heal your pain www.findingforgiveness.blogspot.com

Why Does it Have to Hurt so Much and Can Forgiveness Heal our Pain.

Feeling hurt or being wounded is unfortunately a life experience that all of us deal with. The difficulty is that we get stuck in these feelings not recognizing that we have choices which can lead to less suffering. Three elements come into play when we become wounded.

1. We take things too personally - When we take things too personally we assume that we know everything that is going on with the person who has hurt us. We judge their behavior not totally understanding what has happened in their life and the pain they may have experienced which has brought them to the place when the woundedness happened.

2 We blamed others for how we felt. - We forget that we are looking at the situation through our perceptual lenses tinted by our own emotional baggage – much of which we are unaware of. Instead of owning our shortcomings which is something we do not want to see within ourselves we can only see this behavior in others, not taking responsibility for our own behavior.

3 We get caught in the victim role - We have a tremendous investment in holding on to our pain so we can blame others, proving that I am right and you are wrong. When we choose to hold on to our pain what we are actually doing is pointing an accusing finger at the wrongdoer saying I am the innocent victim.

How do we begin to heal our wounds? The first step is an awareness process of what we are doing so that we can make other choices. If you can remember the three ingredients just mentioned you are well on your way to emotional freedom. As you tell your story, look at these three elements. By using the knowledge you are gaining about yourself you can hopefully gain insight into your own emotional reactions and begin to see the situation differently. Hopefully you will be able to handle your pain more skillfully.

Exercise: If you have written a story from the past posts you may want to revisit it and ask yourself in what way have I taken this situation too personally and how can I see it differently? Or pick a situation where you needed to forgive someone and write your story down. Then ask yourself:
• How can I see the perpetrator differently?
• What do I need to do to take responsibility for my own emotional reactions?
• What is it about myself that is hard to acknowledge which I blame others for?

Remember, we cannot change what has happened to us but we can change the way we respond to it and grow stronger as a result of the situation we find ourselves in. Life will always through us curve balls and we do not need to create more pain for ourselves as a result of the situations we find ourselves in.

For more information on learning how to forgive go to “Finding Forgiveness: A 7 Step Program for Letting go of Anger and Bitterness” by Dr. Eileen R. Borris-Dunchunstang.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Your Forgiveness Moment: You Don't Have to be a Victim Anymore. Go to www.findingforgiveness.blogspot.com.

You don't have to be a Victim Anymore

Have you been hurt in a small or big way? The truth is all of us have been wounded through out our lives. Someone may not have come through in the way we wanted them too or hoped for. Or perhaps someone lied to us or abandoned us. We are wounded because something happened in our life which we didn't want to happen and in many cases we become overwhelmed with what took place. We probably lacked the skills to confront the reality of things not turning out the way we had hoped. Without the skills to handle the situation in the very best way, we become wounded.

When we experience a painful life event we often react with anger or depression. You hold on to that life experience not realizing that the specifics of what happened are not as important as learning how to deal with your reactions to your experience. Whatever has happened to you, adding difficult emotions adds to your pain.

Are you someone who has trouble letting go of the past? Do you get tired of all the time you dwell over something which happened yesterday? Remember, you have a choice as to how much time you will spend on thinking about something that has caused you pain.

To help you let go of your past you may want to write about what has happend. Before you do take a few deep relaxing breathes and when you feel relaxed think of a situation in your life which has created pain. When you have the situation clearly in your mind write your story down. What happened that may have led up to the situation, the situation itself and its aftermath. Think not only about what happened but also how you felt about it. Then ask yourself:

1. How much time are you willing to think about your hurt and/or disappointment?
2. When you think about these hurts how much intensity is there?
3. Why haven't you thought of all the good in your life with the same intensity as your pain?

The answer to these questions are an indication of the depth of your forgiveness work. Just because painful things have happened it doesn't mean that you need to dwell on this. The importance of these questions is not to deny that people have hurt you, they are to help you recognize that we get into habits. The more we think of the negative, the deeper the groove becomes in our mind. After awhile that groove is so deep that it becomes difficult to break out of that groove. We always have choice and if you keep dwelling on something you give those thoughts power. What you focus your attention on is what you become. If you focus on your pain that is what you will experience. If you focus on forgiveness your world will begin to look very different.

You can find more information on how to forgive in "Finding Forgiveness: A 7 Step Program for Letting go of Anger and Bitterness" published by McGraw-Hill.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Your forgiveness moment: A resolution on forgiveness at the United Nations. www.findingforgiveness.blogspot.com.

A Resolution on Forgiveness for the United Nations

I will be away this week and not be able to write although the work of forgiveness will be prominent in my thinking. I will be spending some time at the United Nations this week speaking to people in gaining their support of me writing a resolution on forgiveness and the healing of nations. Last November I presented a paper on forgiveness and the healing of nations to members of the United Nations, UN agencies and some NGO’s. As many of you know I care about helping people personally find forgiveness in their lives. Perhaps my greatest concern and deepest reason why I feel called to do the work of forgiveness is to help heal the hatred which gets passed down from generation to generation. Hatred fuels the flames of war, genocide and other types of mass murder which we have witnessed too much of this past century. Humanity has made great intellectual, scientific and technological advances but we have not experienced the same advance in understanding our spiritual nature and the healing power of love. It will be a daunting effort to stop the destruction of humanity by the use of raw power and technology alone. We can only overcome our adversity by our sincere desire to want to change our thinking about one another and pray that our minds can be changed. As we learn to forgive ourselves and others hopefully we can take action based on the understanding gained from our collective moments of grace. It will take the power of unconditional love and our acts of kindness to transform humanities consciousness from destructive action to peace based on our ability to forgive. Yet at this moment we do not have broad enough knowledge and wisdom to understand the profound spiritual depth that forgiveness can bring. It is through this collective understanding of consciousness that we will come to know that peace gained through understanding and love is the only way to prevent our extinction and secure our future.

Vaclev Havel said in an address to a joint session of the United States Congress in 1990 that "without a global revolution in the sphere of human consciousness, a more humane society will not emerge." Stopping the cycles of anger, hatred, and fear which fuel so much suffering, requires a radical change in our thinking. Without this change we will stay stuck in the quagmire of violence and aggression, passing down to each generation the legacy of violence and guilt which will only perpetuate these cycles. If, on the other hand, we are honestly committed to harmonious relationships, then we will recognize that the true heroes are those individuals who are not afraid to look within, to change the way they think, and heal the pain of their heart. This kind of healing transformation is what forgiveness is about and this is the kind of transformation I would like to create among nations.

For those interested in obtaining a copy of my paper please feel free to contact me.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Forgiveness Person of the Week - Tiger Woods Only He can be the Captain of his soul. www.findingforgiveness.blogspot.com

The Forgiveness Person of the Week - Tiger Woods

Today is the day that Tiger Woods is to give a statement and ask for forgiveness for his transgressions. There will probably be a great deal of speculation about Tiger's sincerity. As I was thinking about this my thoughts drifted to the movie "invictus," and to the poem below. I cannot judge what is going on inside of Tiger Woods. All I can say is that change and growth must start from where we are. Forgiveness is an act of courage, helping as realized that we do have strength within ourselves. Forgiveness can be very freeing, and it heals both victim and offender. When we listen to Tiger Woods we should not just be observers, reacting to what is being said. Let him remind us that we too can initiate forgiveness in our own lives. As the poem Invictus says, "I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul." We all make a difference in this world and our words and actions affect others. We should focus on being the captain of our soul and face our challenges and not judge others. By practicing forgiveness with sincerity in our own lives we are given the ability to soar above our difficulties. Let us hope that this gift is given to Tiger Woods as well.

By William Ernest Henley
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

For more information on how to forgive and to be inspired by others who have been able to forgive please go to "Finding Forgiveness: A 7 Step Program for Letting go of Anger and Bitterness." If you want to learn more about forgiveness you can also visit my website www.dreileenborris.com.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Your Forgiveness Moment: I am Innocent so why do I have to Forgive? For more go to www.findingforgiveness.blogspot.com.

I'm Innocent So Why Do I Have To Forgive?

The first step in your forgiveness journey begins with telling your story. For many of us this story can be a painful one. Something happened which frightened us, shocked us, made us very angry or hurt us deeply. In many cases when we retell our stories we portrayed ourselves as the victim.

Yes, many of us were victimized yet that doesn’t mean that we need to remain the victim. If this is what we choose to do, we have just disempowered ourselves creating more pain to deal with. We get stuck in the victim role when we take the hurt personally and we don’t take responsibility for how we feel. Just because something awful has happened it does not mean that we have to relive it day after day.

You might be thinking, how can I not take my spouse’s extramarital affairs or emotional abuse personally. You stop taking things personally when you begin to ask the questions, why them instead of why me. What has happened in their lives that have created pain that has made them who they are today? This helps you realize that anyone in your position at that given time would have been treated in exactly the same way. When you recognize the impersonal nature of what has happened to you, then your pain does not have to cripple you.

Not taking things personally doesn’t mean that you ignore or excuse what has happened or deny your pain. It does mean that what has happened to you is not a unique situation. For example unfortunately in many marriages people have experienced pain because their spouses had extramarital affairs. When you can see the impersonal nature of the situation you can begin a new story of healing and forgiveness.

How do we fall prey to the victim role? In a sense it is part of our human condition. All of us want to present “the face of innocence.” We can be very loving, very charming, sweet and kind when we want to be. We can also find people to sympathize with us when we talk about how badly treated we may have been. We identify with other people who are also victims. We see ourselves as good people living with people who can be very hurtful. Yet underneath our innocence our anger grows because we see a world which is unable to provide nurturance and love. Because I am innocent I will not make the first attack, yet every day a hundred little things make small assaults upon our innocence, provoking irritation eventually escalating to anger in all its forms. When we choose to hold on to our pain what we are actually doing is pointing an accusing finger at the wrongdoer saying I am the innocent victim and as you look on me you are condemned because of my suffering.

The central lesson is that we have a tremendous investment in holding on to our pain so we can blame others, proving that I am right and you are wrong. When I point my finger at you, there is also a finger pointing back at me although we want to keep that buried deep within ourselves below our face of innocence. Never underestimate the power of denial for this is what keeps the dynamics of attack and defend alive and well.
It’s important to become aware of our own face of innocence. What keeps us stuck in the victim role is our inability to manage our emotional pain and to confront reality. When we break our denial of wanting to be right instead of happy we have begun our healing, moving away from victim to one who thrives.

There is a journal exercise which will help you move from a victim story to a hero’s story. Think of a time where you needed to forgive someone. Do you repeat your story over and over again and if so what is keeping you stuck and why? Write down whatever comes up for you without judgment. Allow yourself to feel whatever is happening within you. Give your emotions voice including your guilt by writing it down. When you feel that you have given your emotions full expression, ask yourself why them? What has happened in their life that has brought them where they were at the time the incident happened. Is there a way that you can look at your situation in a healthier way and see things a bit differently now? If you can’t, what are you still holding on to and why can’t you let it go. See what comes up for you and allow yourself to feel whatever emotions need more expression. If guilt keeps reappearing – ask yourself what can you do differently now to heal your guilt. Remember, you can’t change the past but you can make different choices now. Remember that holding on to guilt is a choice too.

You can repeat this exercise as often as you like to help you loosen the grip of your pain and move from victim of your circumstances to a hero. Be gentle with yourself and thank yourself for taking the time to walk the path of forgiveness.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

When Our Pain Returns - Finding Forgiveness

It would be so nice if when we told our painful stories of the past, all our suffering would magically disappear. Unfortunately it doesn’t happen like that. Many of us get stuck in the quagmire of our emotions not letting the ghosts of the past be in the past. How can we work through these emotions? We heal our emotions by feeling them completely. The only way we can get to the other side is by walking through that door. Yes, it hurts yet the paradox is that when we give ourselves permission to feel our emotions completely, we begin to dissipate its energy. One of the reasons why we struggle so much with forgiveness is that we want to avoid feeling pain, but in order to finally let our emotional burdens go, we have to know what’s there.

Forgiveness is a process that usually takes time. If done fully, forgiveness changes us in a very fundamental way. It changes our thinking and creates within us a new way of being in this world. When we become a person who can forgive, then we find the ultimate freedom forgiveness brings. This freedom expands our consciousness giving us the gift of an all encompassing love. Challenging ourselves to grow beyond our “small” selves is difficult and yet it reaps great rewards.

So what are the ways you can begin to let go of your past? Soul searching is a good starting point. Take out your journal and ask yourself the following questions.

• Do you really want to forgive this person? It’s ok if you don’t – and if that is the case just be gentle with yourself. It is healthier to be able to acknowledge that then to say “I forgive” when you are still seething inside. Working with our emotions takes time. There are also times when we feel that we “should” forgive someone for a variety of reasons. This never works. Forgive is a choice, a voluntary act and if it is forced resentment builds just beneath the surface.

• Do you want to step out of being a victim? If not why is it that you are choosing to hold on to your anger and/or guilt? This question is a hard one. All of us are invested in being stuck in the victim role. Do you want to get back at someone by being the innocent victim, showing the world how much you are suffering at the hands of another? Remember, we disempower ourselves when we are stuck in the victim role, blaming others and not taking responsibility for our own lives. Conversely we empower ourselves when we take responsibility for our emotional well being. Often it is our feelings of guilt that keeps us stuck. We may not feel that we deserve feeling better or we feel guilty that someone else may have suffered and not us. When this happens ask yourself, what is under these feelings – why do I want to beat myself up? Why am I not willing to love and nurture myself? Remember – holding on to guilt is a choice too.

• Do you really want to heal? This is another hard question and be gentle with yourself with whatever comes up. The important issue here is to be aware that you are making choices, awareness being the first step in any healing process.

As I have mentioned before – forgiveness takes work. Being honest, loving and gentle with yourself will take you on the road to recovery. Get help if you need too for you do not need to do this work on your own. And remember, you are not alone.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Your Forgiveness Moment - It's not love that makes the world go round - It's Guilt! www.findingforgiveness.blogspot.com.

"It's Not Love that makes the World go Round - It's Guilt!"

The most important issue to deal with in the forgiveness process is our feelings of guilt. We can have a hard enough time getting in touch with our anger. Getting in touch with our guilt is even more difficult. None of us like to feel that awful feeling in the pit of our stomach. And for those of us feeling guilty for what we have done, that guilt blocks any possibility for us to feel love which we feel so unworthy of. When we don’t accept love we can’t be healed.

There is another reason why it is so important to uncover our guilt. If we pretend that the guilt buried within ourselves doesn’t exist, the only thing we can do with these feelings is literally place that guilt on someone else. Since guilt includes all the negative feelings we believe to be true about ourselves, now we only see those negatives in the people around us. We become very judgmental because of the lack of love within ourselves, and we attack others through the filter of our guilt. As soon as something happens to us, we can only see the situation through our negative thinking caused by our guilt. Until we recognize what we are doing, we will continue to blame others and have a distorted view of what actually happened. We need to learn how to see through our smoke screens and own our guilt

So how do we work with our guilt?
1. Don’t be afraid to talk about your feelings of guilt and recognize that as awful as a situation may be, we did the best we could.
2. Take responsibility for your choices and if you are the one who needs forgiveness realize that now that you can see what you have done – you can choose again.
3. Keep in mind that holding on to guilt and being stuck in a victim role is a choice, too.
4. Accept responsibility for your emotional reactions.
5. Listen within.

To help yourself heal your guilt and move forward in your personal forgiveness process take out your journal and ask yourself “What do I feel guilty of in relation to this situation?” Explore what comes up without judgment. Don’t be afraid to reach back in time for feelings of guilt. This is part of your healing process. Feel your feelings as they surface and be open to what they want to say to you. Is there something now or in the past that needs healing and if so, what actions can I take to heal it? Even if it is clear that you did nothing to the perpetrator, you still may have feelings of guilt. If there is something that you feel ashamed of, explore those feelings to get to the roots of your wound. This action will uncover something you need to forgive yourself for. Journal with whatever comes up. You will probably have to repeat this journal exercise a number of times before you are able to release some of your guilt. Guilt runs deep. It is important that you be gentle with yourself as you do this work. After you have explored your guilt feelings ask yourself, “How have I place my feelings of guilt on others, such as through blaming or judging? What can I do differently now?” Go deep within and listen. (For more on this exercise go to Finding Forgiveness: A 7 Step Program for Letting Go of Anger and Bitterness)

Friday, February 5, 2010

I'm reading Into The Light about people confronting death. The message is clear. Forgiveness leads us to a peaceful transition back to God.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Your Forgiveness Moment: Got Anger? go to www.findingforgiveness.blogspot.com


“Fry those Bastards! I want Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols hanged no trials necessary.” These were the words of Bud Welch whose 23 year old daughter was killed in the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. “From the moment I learned it was a bomb I survived on anger and hate.”

Bud’s anger was focused on Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, and like so many others, Bud wished for their speedy conviction and execution. “I was opposed to the death penalty all my life until my daughter Julie Marie was killed in the Oklahoma City bombing. For many months after the bombing I could have killed Timothy McVeigh myself. Temporary insanity is real, and I have lived it. You can’t think of enough adjectives to describe the anger and hatred I felt. But after time, I was able to examine my conscience, and I realized that if McVeigh is put to death, it won’t help me in the healing process. People talk about executions bringing closure. But how can there be closure when my little girl is never coming back. I finally realized that the death penalty is all about revenge and hate, and revenge and hate are why Julie Marie and 167 others are died.”

When Bud saw McVeigh’s father on television a few months after the bombing, his emotions began to change. He realized that “this man has lost a child too.” Bud eventually arranged to meet with Timothy McVeigh’s father, Bill. “I saw a deep pain in a father’s eye, but also an incredible love for his son.” Bud says, “I was able to tell him that I truly understood the pain that he was going through, and that he – as I – was a victim of what happened in Oklahoma City.”

Not all of us could come to this conclusion so quickly. Yet before Bud could get to this place of recognizing that both fathers were dealing with a painful lose he had to deal with his personal healing. What Bud was able to accomplish you too will be able to do, if you choose.

Step Three: Working with Anger. Anger tells us that our circumstances need to change. If we can’t let go of our anger it is also telling us that we need to change. This is the time when we get into the trenches of our emotions and have the difficult dialogue with ourselves about what happened and how we will choose to deal with it in a healing capacity. It is the time when we roll up our sleeves and become very honest with ourselves. Our tendencies are to want to feel sorry for ourselves and stay stuck in a victim role. By playing “poor me,” we disempower ourselves or continue to play the blame game and not take responsibility or positive action in our lives. Instead of seeing the situation as the good guy versus the bad guy, we would be better served to learn the lessons our emotions are trying to teach us and to understand what is making the person behave that way.

This is a difficult phase because it requires introspection and honest soul searching. Although we may think we are angry at someone, else if we are having difficulty letting go of anger it is an indication that we are in the need of healing. Don’t be afraid to dialogue with the anger inside of you. Ask your anger what it wants to tell you. You can have this conversation be either writing down whatever comes to mind or sharing what is inside of you with someone you trust. Honor what your anger says to you. You may need to journal many times focusing on your anger. You can also draw it. There may be multiple meanings to your anger. Your anger could be protecting you. It could also be telling you what you need to do to heal.

The question you need to ask yourself is “What am I accusing the other person of?” because the truth is that is what we are secretly accusing ourselves of. Our egos are slippery snakes so the content will be different but the form will be the same. For example we may never betray our spouse by being unfaithful but have we ever been unfaithful to ourselves? When we can look at that within ourselves we can begin to recognize the humanity in your spouse. This is not to say that you don’t take appropriate action to protect yourself. By seeing that we are all capable of betrayal it will help as let go of our anger around the situation and have greater peace of mind.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Your forgiveness moment - Will I ever gt over it and be able to forgive? www.findingforgiveness.blogspot.com

Will I ever get over it and be able to Forgive?

I remember a friend telling me how long it took her to realize and fully understand that the best thing she could do was to forgive her husband when he walked out on her. In the beginning she was devastated. She felt so stupid that she did not see the “handwriting on the wall.” After all, she loved him and wanted the marriage to work. Yes, there was emotional abuse but she never expected betrayal and certainly not infidelity.

As Kathy continued telling me her story I encouraged her to go deep within herself and allow whatever she was feeling to come out. There was so much anger, grief, pain and shame; so many emotions that at times she wanted to scream, then cry making her feel sick inside. We’ve all been there, feeling that these memories will be seared in our hearts and minds always to return with unexpected emotional force.

Yet, telling your story is the beginning of your healing process. When you feel able, talk about what happened to someone you trust and who will be supportive of you. Tell your story as completely as possible including not only the emotions you are feeling as you tell the story, but what was going on inside of you as the events began to unfold. When you first tell your story, it may be incomplete. You ma need to retell your story to bring all the pieces together, what your feelings were, the meaning of what happened to you and perhaps to those around you. Talk about the question of guilt and responsibility. This may help you later in reconstructing a system of belief that makes sense of undeserved suffering. Remember to breathe as you tell your story. Breathing will help you manage strong emotions. If it is too difficult to tell your story, write about it or draw your story.

An exercise that can help you with your healing process is to do some journaling. Think of a situation where you feel you need to forgive someone and want to work through your painful emotions. Write your story describing what took place in detail. What happened to you and what possibly led up to the situation that you may not have been aware of at first. What were your thoughts and feelings and what meaning did you give to the event. What are your attitudes and beliefs about what happened. If there are several events, develop a separate script for each one. Don’t be surprised if new memories are recovered as you explore old ones. Write down everything you feel about the situation and the person causing you pain. Allow a stream of consciousness to flow across the pages of your journal and spare nothing. Remember that this is your private journal for no one else to see. After you have written everything down, ask yourself, “If I were face to face with this person, what would I say?” Let out the anger and the hurt in what you write and keep on writing until there is nothing left to say. Some questions to think about are “Why did this situation happen to me?”, and “What happened in that other person’s life that may have caused pain and brought him/her to the place they are today?”

You may need to rework your story until you have all the pieces together and that is ok. In my next blog I will help you deal with your strong emotions that you may be having difficulty with and how to put your emotional life back together again.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Your Forgiveness moment of the day: Why is Forgiveness so hard to do? www.findingforgiveness.blogspot.com

Why is Learning how to forgive so Hard?

We have all been there. Someone hurts us and for a moment we may wish to see them suffer as much as we are suffering now. The injury has just happened and emotions are churning within us, sometimes to the point of us feeling overwhelmed. While we may not want to forgive someone when we are first injured, nor necessarily should we, if we choose to lead a life where forgiveness is an integral part of it, our first step is to understand the meaning of forgiveness.

In past posts I have spoken about what forgiveness means and I would like to review a few of the most important points here.

* Forgiveness is about your inner healing, a release of your pain and not about letting someone else off the hook.
* Forgiveness is about changing the way we think and for most of us, this takes time. It is about changing our perceptions so we can see the situation differently, not through our anger, fear or guilt but through understanding and compassion.
* Forgiveness is the highest form of love that we can extend to others. It is the greatest gift we can give not only to others but especially to ourselves.

For the next few weeks I will take you step by step through a forgiveness process to help you heal the pain in your life. The first step in the forgiveness process is to truly understanding the meaning of forgiveness and to realize that it is for our benefit more than anyone else. Forgiveness is not something we should do to be good people. It is something that we want to do because we know that forgiveness will ultimately give us peace of mind and lead us towards richer fuller lives. When we understand this we can begin to move forward. Then we can look at the incident that has brought us pain. Remember, it is normal to feel angry and natural to want some form of revenge. Do not judge yourself if this is your experience. I often tell my clients if they are feeling overwhelmed with anger and a need for revenge to write out their revenge fantasy. This helps give our emotions voice and helps us to ultimately realize that revenge will not get us what we really want. When we come to this understanding we have just opened the door to the possibility of forgiveness and have started step one of our personal journey towards forgiveness.

To begin your journey ask yourself:
* How clear is my understanding about forgiveness and do I need to talk to someone who can help me better understand what forgiveness is about?
* Is there someone in my life that I am harboring anger and resentment towards and am I having difficulty with these emotions?
* How willing am I in wanting to forgive?

As you answer these questions you will learn something about yourself. In the coming posts I will continue taking you down the path of forgiveness teaching the steps to follow. Further information can be found in “Finding Forgiveness: A 7 Step Program for Letting go of Anger and Bitterness.”

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The 7 Step Forgiveness Program - Getting Started

We know that as difficult as forgiveness may be, the psychological case for practicing forgiveness is compelling. Although forgiveness can happen in an instant, for many of us it can take weeks, months, years or possibly a lifetime. The work of forgiveness is different for each of us, yet there are certain predictable steps all of us will go through. This program will describe what these steps are and how we go about achieving them. Some steps will be more difficult than others depending on our personal circumstances. Other steps may be more relevant for some than for others. Focus on what is important. Keep in mind, none of us forgive in the same way, and the forgiveness process is not a rigid process.

So how do we get started? The first thing you will want is a journal or notebook. Writing what comes to mind is one way to give all the stuff trapped inside of you voice. A journal is a wonderful way to tap into deeper parts of yourself and access thoughts and feelings that would not normally come up in talking with someone. It allows you to expose what is hidden in a deeper way that aids tremendously in the release of suppressed emotions.

Write in your journal for a few minutes every day while working on this program. Some people like to write first thing in the morning when their mind isn’t preoccupied with the day’s events. Others prefer the evenings when things quiet down. Commit to a time that works best for you, and get into a routine of writing at that same time every day. Below are some guidelines you may find helpful.

1. Find a quiet and comfortable place to do your writing where you will not be disturbed.
2. Use the same place every time you write.
3. Make sure you will not be disturbed by anyone or anything including the telephone.
4. Before you begin, take a few very deep relaxing breaths to help quiet your mind and body.
5. Begin journaling by allowing whatever needs to come up to be written even if it seems totally off the wall.
6. Follow the stream of consciousness. It will take you where you need to go.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Here is the forgiveness moment of the day. Why should we forgive? www.findingforgiveness.blogpost.com.

Why Do We Forgive?

Forgiveness takes us on a journey from the very pragmatic to the very sublime depending on our willingness to travel within the depth of our being. Our journey begins usually when our reality had been shattered and the pain of these broken pieces sears our heart. Over time the pain we carry becomes overwhelming and we think about what we can do to lessen our emotional burden. Perhaps this is the time we ask “Why Do We Forgive?” We forgive for a number of reasons. The list may include:

1. You want to stop being an angry person
2. You realize that holding on to this emotional burden is literally killing you.
3. The relationship which caused you pain is worth trying to fix.
4. You believe in the moral goodness of forgiveness.

Before we embark in learning how to forgive and begin to explore the mysteries of forgiveness I would like you to think about times in your life that you chose the path of forgiveness. Ask yourself, “Why did I forgive?” If you are struggling with a painful situation in your life now ask yourself what forgiveness can bring to you.

To start you on your journey of forgiveness I offer this simple exercise. Sit in a comfortable place where your back is straight and not rigid and your feet are on the floor. Now gently close your eyes. Take a few deep relaxing breaths and as you do I would like you to think about a situation where you would like to release pain. As you think about your situation open your heart to the universal love that surrounds you. As you breathe in imagine this energy fill your entire being. Focus on this love as it permeates every cell of your being. As you breathe out release the pain that you are holding in your heart. Feel yourself become lighter and freer with each breathe you take. Once you are filled with this universal love with each inbreathe take full responsibility for your emotional reactions to your situation and as you breathe out, breathe out the compassionate radiance of healing and forgiveness. Allow yourself to feel inner peace as you gently open your eyes.

This is a powerful exercise. It may give you the courage to face your pain and to forgive the person who may have hurt you or betrayed you in any way. It may also answer the question “Why do we Forgive?”

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and what he said about forgiveness htttp://www.findingforgiveness.blogspot.com

Martin Luther King Jr. on Forgiveness

This is a sermon delivered by Martin Luther King at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church on Christmas of 1957. It deals with the question of how do we learn to love our enemies. For King the answer lies in forgiveness. In celebration of Martin Luther King day I wanted to share his inspiring words.

"First, we must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. It is impossible even to begin the act of loving one's enemies without the prior acceptance of the necessity, over and over again, of forgiving those who inflict evil and injury upon us. It is also necessary to realize that the forgiving act must always be initiated by the person who has been wronged, the victim of some great hurt, the recipient of some tortuous injustice, the absorber of some terrible act of oppression. The wrongdoer may request forgiveness. He may come to himself, and, like the prodigal son, move up some dusty road, his heart palpitating with the desire for forgiveness. But only the injured neighbor, the loving father back home, can really pour out the warm waters of forgiveness.

"Forgiveness does not mean ignoring what has been done or putting a false label on an evil act. It means, rather, that the evil act no longer remains as a barrier to the relationship. Forgiveness is a catalyst creating the atmosphere necessary for a fresh start and a new beginning. It is the lifting of a burden or the canceling of a debt. The words 'I will forgive you, but I'll never forget what you've done' never explain the real nature of forgiveness. Certainly one can never forget, if that means erasing it totally from his mind. But when we forgive, we forget in the sense that the evil deed is no longer a mental block impeding a new relationship. Likewise, we can never say, 'I will forgive you, but I won't have anything further to do with you.' Forgiveness means reconciliation, a coming together again. Without this, no man can love his enemies

"The degree to which we are able to forgive determines the degree to which we are able to love our enemies.

"Second, we must recognize that the evil deed of the enemy-neighbor, the thing that hurts, never quite expresses all that he is. An element of goodness may be found even in our worst enemy. Each of us has something of a schizophrenic personality, tragically divided against ourselves. A persistent civil war rages within all of our lives. Something within us causes us to lament with Ovid, the Latin poet, 'I see and approve the better things, but follow worse,' or to agree with Plato that human personality is like a charioteer having two headstrong horses, each wanting to go in a different direction, or to repeat with the Apostle Paul, 'The good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.'

"This simply means that there is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies. When we look beneath the surface, beneath. the impulsive evil deed, we see within our enemy-neighbor a measure of goodness and know that the viciousness and evilness of his acts are not quite representative of all that he is. We see him in a new light. We recognize that his hate grows out of fear, pride, ignorance, prejudice, and misunderstanding, but in spite of this, we know God's image is ineffably etched in being. Then we love our enemies by realizing that they are not totally bad and that they are not beyond the reach of God's redemptive love.

"Third, we must not seek to defeat or humiliate the enemy but to win his friendship and understanding. At times we are able to humiliate our worst enemy. Inevitably, his weak moments come and we are able to thrust in his side the spear of defeat. But this we must not do. Every word and deed must contribute to an understanding with the enemy and release those vast reservoirs of goodwill which have been blocked by impenetrable walls of hate.

"Let us move now from the practical how to the theoretical why: Why should we love our enemies? The first reason is fairly obvious. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multi# plies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.

"So when Jesus says 'Love your enemies,' he is setting forth a profound and ultimately inescapable admonition. Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies-or else? The chain reaction of evil-hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars-must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.

"Another reason why we must love our enemies is that hate scars the soul and distorts the personality. Mindful that hate is an evil and dangerous force, we too often think of what it does to the person hated. This is understandable, for hate brings irreparable damage to its victims. We have seen its ugly consequences in the ignominious deaths brought to six million Jews by hate-obsessed madman named Hitler, in the unspeakable violence inflicted upon Negroes by bloodthirsty mobs, in the dark horrors of war, and in the terrible indignities and injustices perpetrated against millions of God's children by unconscionable oppressors.

"But there is another side which we must never overlook. Hate is just as injurious to the person who hates. Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Hate destroys a man's sense of values and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false and the false with the true.

"A third reason why we should love our enemies is that love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend. We never get rid of an enemy by meeting hate with hate; we get rid of an enemy by getting rid of enmity. By its very nature, hate destroys and tears down; by its very nature, love creates and builds up. Love transforms with redemptive power.

"The relevance of what I have said to the crisis in race relations should be readily apparent. There will be no permanent solution to the, race problem until oppressed men develop the capacity to love their enemies. The darkness of racial injustice will be dispelled only by the light of forgiving love. For more than three centuries American Negroes have been battered by the iron rod of oppression, frustrated by day and bewildered by night by unbearable injustice and burdened with the ugly weight of discrimination. Forced to live with these shameful conditions, we are tempted to become bitter and to retaliate with a corresponding hate. But if this happens, the new order we seek will be little more than a duplicate of the old order. We must in strength and humility meet hate with love.

"My friends, we have followed the so-called practical way for too long a time now, and it has led inexorably to deeper confusion and chaos. Time is cluttered with the wreckage of communities which surrendered to hatred and violence. For the salvation of our nation and the salvation of mankind, we must follow another way.

"While abhorring segregation, we shall love the segregationist. This is the only way to create the beloved community.

"To our most bitter opponents we say: 'We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We shall meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will, and we shall continue to love you. We cannot in all good conscience obey your unjust laws because noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. Throw us in jail and we shall still love you. Bomb our homes and threaten our children, and we shall still love you. Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our community at the midnight hour and beat us and leave us half dead, and we shall still love you. But be ye assured that we will wear you down by our capacity to suffer. One day we shall win freedom but not only for ourselves. We shall so appeal to your heart and conscience that we shall win you in the process and our victory will be a double victory.'"

Thursday, January 14, 2010

What Does Freud Have to do with it - The Forgiveness Process that Is!

The profound healing effect of forgiveness lies in its capacity to change the way we think. To help us understand how this happens I would like to give you a brief lesson in how our thinking developed and how it relates to what we call our unconscious mind.

At the turn of the 19th century a very prominent psychoanalyst by the name of Sigmund Freud laid the groundwork for understanding the psychoanalytical view on the way we think. He was especially brilliant when he introduced the concept of psychological defense mechanisms to keep unacceptable impulses, desires, and thoughts out of conscious awareness. Freud believed that one never strives so hard against something unless one was correspondingly attracted to it, even if that attraction remained out of awareness.

Although during Freud’s time psychology and spirituality were kept quite separate from one another that relationship began to change dramatically during the 1960’s. A “Third Force” known as Humanistic psychology came into existence, (with psychoanalysis and behaviorism being the first and second). From it emerged theorist such as Abraham Maslow, Carl Jung, and Carl Rogers. Their focus shifted from the psychoanalytical view that reduces human behavior and experience to unconscious sexual forces, to a view which respected our creative and spiritual strivings, placing a greater emphasis on the present and future rather than being chained to the past.

As Humanistic psychology further developed, a “fourth force” began to grow known to the field as transpersonal psychology. Transpersonal psychology began to explore the ‘S’elf, which they defined as our source of creativity and spirituality and beyond our personal self. This led humanistic and transpersonal psychology to look increasingly to spirituality as a guiding force for their investigations bringing them closer to the Eastern spiritual traditions, predominantly Hinduism or Buddhism.

With the advent of humanistic and transpersonal psychology we began to understand the struggles we were having in accepting our spirituality. As theories emerged they expanded that of Freud’s, opening up the possibility that within us is a divine spark or “Higher Self.” As these newer theories matured, Freud’s ‘ego’ took on a different meaning. Carl Jung who was a student of Freud defined the ‘ego’ as meaning ‘false self’ or the persona we put out for the world to see. This persona included our shadow, those parts of ourselves which we keep hidden. Jungian psychology then went beyond Freudian theory acknowledging that there is also a part within us that transcends our ‘ego’ and which makes up our higher nature. Unfortunately we have focused so much on creating who we think we should be, getting so wrapped up in our ego that we have come to deny our divinity.

According to Jung, when we denied our spiritual nature we imposed an image on ourselves based on a false belief that it was possible to be separate from our spiritual source. In accepting this belief as fact, we created a conflict within our psyche. The psychological pain of this conflict is so deeply imbedded within us that we experience this state of separation as anxiety. Karen Horney, a prominent psychoanalyst, describes this anxiety in terms of feeling isolated and helpless in a world conceived as potentially hostile.

The psychological term used to describe basic anxiety is neurosis. Carl Jung considered neurosis a warning issued by a higher authority, reminding us that our personality is in need of broadening to ultimately include the central “power,” that part which embraces all of who we are. Sigmund Freud was so afraid of this power that he constructed a thought system virtually invulnerable to the threat of spirit and a defense against our true “Self.”
How did this all happen? Why did we choose to focus on our “false” self as the ego is often called, to the detriment of the divinity within?

And how is this relevant to the understanding of the forgiveness process? Interestingly there is a myth common to Western civilization, the creation story, which explains all of this. Although we think of this story as a description of our physical creation, for some it is also a story of the birth of our consciousness and of the development of the ego thought system as we know it today.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

How do we Forgive?

How do we forgive the betrayal, abuse, infidelity or disappointments in our lives? In the first chapter of “Finding Forgiveness” I begin with a quote which says “The knowledge that illuminates not only sets you free, but also shows clearly that you are free.” The knowledge referred to here is about knowing yourself right to the core of your being – your spiritual essence. It is knowing the truth of who you are which sets you free. This is what forgiveness is about and why forgiveness is our ultimate freedom.

Think about a situation in your life where you have gotten hurt or where you were feeling such intense anger that you couldn’t let that anger go. As the situation happened you had already judged it, stubbornly holding on to whatever you were thinking as though your thoughts were facts. The truth is those thoughts are not facts, only your interpretation of what just took place. In a split second you became judge and jury seeing the situation through the lens colored by your life’s experiences. Ouch!

Now I know what some of you are thinking. I wasn’t the one who was the abusive spouse and ruined a marriage. I wasn’t the one who committed an infidelity and had an affair. I wasn’t the perpetrator of violence. So what do my thoughts have to do with it?

You certainly did not create the circumstances which caused you pain. Your interpretations of what happened did. Yes, our emotions created by our thoughts are very important messengers guiding us in what we need to do, AND it is when you can’t let go of them within a reasonable amount of time because of what you are thinking that the red flag waves. We do have a right to be angry and we can choose to overcome anger by seeing our situation differently, changing our thinking and letting our pain go.

Forgiveness is a process of looking at a situation and asking ourselves what this event is telling us about what we believe to be true. We begin by looking honestly at our reactions to whatever has happened including all kinds of feelings and judgments we may hold about the situation. All these feelings and thoughts are useful in uncovering our hidden beliefs. These are feelings and thoughts about ourselves which often we can only see in the perpetrator. We are learning that the feelings/thoughts along with the pain they cause were already with us before the event took place in the form of guilt. The event only seemed to cause the feelings when actually our beliefs did.

When we are willing to question our beliefs then we are in a position to begin to see the situation differently. This can be very difficult to do, and takes a lot of practice and honesty, but it is the only way we can get in touch with the beliefs that are keeping us rooted in the thinking that causes us a lot of pain. If we are willing to just say “maybe I’m wrong about this,” then the world we’ve made and all our relationships, including those we love, become our classroom for a type of learning which can bring spiritual depth to our lives. Without this spiritual knowledge we would not be aware of the mistaken beliefs about ourselves or the judgments that keep us trapped in knowing our true essence. Each step in the forgiveness process brings us more peace and takes us closer to our truth. This is our healing and it is this truth that really does sets us free.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Forgiveness and the Person(s) of the week - Brit Hume and Tiger Woods

We face many challenges regarding forgiveness in our lives. Turn on the news and the question of forgiveness seems to be everywhere. We are confronted with how to deal with the Bernie Madoff’s of the world and more recently issues of infidelity concerning Tiger Woods. Incidents happen on a daily basis and we all have something to say about them. So I have decided to start a column “Forgiveness and the Person of the Week,” not that we should forgive these characters, but to learn something hopefully about forgiveness and ourselves, and how to apply forgiveness in our own lives.

The buzz this week seems to be about Brit Hume and Tiger Woods. In case you missed it, Hume made the following comment on Fox News concerning Tiger Woods. Hume said "He (Tiger Woods) is said to be a Buddhist. I don’t think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith. My message to Tiger would be, ‘Tiger, turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world."
Suddenly there was a flurry of activity on the internet. Some people where outraged, others took sides. As I stood back and watched what was going on I had to ask myself, what is this fight really about? Granted, there are issues here and the way people reacted indicated that there were issues within us as well.

People were attacking what Brit Hume said, some either for or against Christianity. The reason we attack others is because there is something inside of us which needs to be healed. Pain is something that most of us try to avoid, yet if we are going to practice forgiveness, implicit in this is experiencing our wholeness. As in any healing work, we begin by getting in touch with what we have denied. The problem is that we are totally unaware that what bothers us so much about others is what we find most disturbing about ourselves. Since facing painful emotion about ourselves is so incredibly difficult and painful we unconsciously look for something outside of ourselves which becomes our psychological dumping grounds.

Carl Jung, a very prominent 20th century psychoanalyst called this our “shadow” or the “dark” side of personality. It functions as an inner opponent whom we struggle throughout our lives. What makes some part of our nature shadow is not its destructiveness per se; it is the fact that we are unconscious of it. The shadow has an emotional charge and presents a significant moral opposition to the ego-personality. Owning our shadow is a critical step for in not owning those aspects we begin a process of separation. We begin to see the world as good or bad, us or them. For example, when these judgments are superimposed on religious, racial, cultural or national differences, we get bigotry, racism, and the prejudices that separate and antagonize deepening the schism between us versus them. As a result, we can only see those unacceptable parts in others, and not in ourselves setting up situations of discrimination, scapegoating, victimization and even war.

Back to Brit Hume, he taught us an important lesson. Sure it is ok to have opinions but when it takes the form of an attack and we can’t seem to let go of it, then we have to ask ourselves – what are we accusing this man of? The answer we give is an indication of what needs to be healed within ourselves. The content of course will be different, but the form will be the same. In other words, we may not tell others to convert from one religion to another but we may tell people what political views they need to have. If we are willing to look at ourselves in this way and recognize that we are all capable of doing similar things then not only can we forgive ourselves, we can extend forgiveness to others for whatever we think they have done.
Only Hume knows for sure why he made his comments. Perhaps it was because of a life experience such as the death of his son in 1998 where Hume found a life preserver in faith and which he was offering it to another drowning man. We don’t really know, yet it is very interesting to watch our own behavior.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Forgiveness is the highest form of love

For the next few weeks I will be writing about different aspects of forgiveness and the forgiveness process. This writing is an elaboration on the paperback edition of “Finding Forgiveness: A 7 Step Program for Letting Go of Anger and Bitterness,” which has just come out this month. I encourage you to join in on the conversation and share your thoughts, insights and experiences which can help all of us reflect more deeply on the meaning of forgiveness.

Very often when I teach about forgiveness I am always amazed at how many different interpretations there are concerning the meaning of forgiveness. This confusion points to the complexities of forgiveness, a misunderstood process that frequently hides in robes of morality, self-righteousness, and woundedness.

Forgiveness is a voluntary act in which a person makes a decision, a choice, about how he or she will deal with an event concerning the past. It is a process that shows us how to heal emotional pain by choosing to see the person who caused the pain differently. Forgiveness is about changing the way we think about ourselves and the way we see the world. Its transformational power moves us from being helpless victims of our circumstances to powerful co-creators of our reality. Forgiveness is an essential part of our healing, enabling us to release our anger, pain and suffering. As we learn to forgive and heal our emotional pain, we begin to experience the gift of inner peace.

Forgiveness is a radical way of living that openly contradicts the most common beliefs of this troubled world. It is radical because it involves a transformation of our thinking from thoughts of “an eye for an eye” to compassion and understanding. Forgiveness is the science of the heart, a discipline of discovering all the ways of being that will extend your love to the world and discarding all the ways that do not.

Paul Tillich wrote that forgiveness is the divine answer to our existence. It restores our hearts to the innocence that we once knew – an innocence that allows us the freedom to love. Ultimately forgiveness is the highest form of love.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Challenge of Forgiveness

Immaculee Ilibagiza, a Rwandan woman who wrote Left to Tell (Hay House, 2006) was able to forgive the unthinkable. For 91 days of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda she hid in a tiny bathroom with seven other women in the home of her local pastor. She describes the horror she lived through and the stunning transformation she experienced because of her desire to forgive. Something happened within her where she was able to move her consciousness to deeper levels of understanding and experience inexplicable love. When the genocide ended, Immaculee met one of her family’s murderers and was able to forgive him.

How is forgiveness possible in the face of such horrific acts and what exactly is forgiveness? In the most simplistic of terms forgiveness is a willingness to let go of resentment and to stop suffering. I define forgiveness as a voluntary act in which you make a decision to see a situation differently. Instead of seeing a situation through the lens of anger, guilt or fear we see it through the eyes of compassion and understanding. I like to think of forgiveness as the science of the heart, a discipline of discovering all the ways of being that will extend your love to the world and discarding all the ways that do not. On a deeper level forgiveness is about changing the way we think which includes embracing our humanity and spiritual nature and the humanity and spiritual nature of all human beings.

In the Handbook of Forgiveness (Routledge, 2005) an anthology of scientific studies edited by Everett Worthington Jr. experts in the field expose gradations in definitions of forgiveness. In spite of this they all do agree on one thing. Unforgiveness is a state of anger, bitterness and in its extreme form hatred. Forgiveness is a prosocial change in someone’s experience after a transgression. When people choose to forgive, they change.

My question to you is, has there been something in your life in which you were able to forgive and if so, how were you changed?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Power of Forgiveness

With the turbulent times that we are all experiencing, how do we comfort ourselves? Outer worlds are falling apart and for many a new journey begins as we look elsewhere, within ourselves, to find the comfort the outer world has taken away. Where this inner searching takes us is different for each one of us but the catalyst for its beginning is usually very similar.

How do we tap into this inner peace and is there something that resides deep within ourselves that is available 24/7 and can always bring us comfort? The mystics talk about this spiritual essence and now scientists are beginning to explore and gain an understanding of this too. There may be many paths to the core of our being and changing our consciousness is a key factor. One of the greatest healing mechanisms to help us along the way is the path of forgiveness.

I am reading a very interesting book "Fingerprints of God: The Search for the Science of Spirituality" by Barbara Bradley Hagerty. Within the book Bradley Hagerty shares her the story of her spiritual evolution. What caught my attention was how Bradley Hagerty was interweaving science with the search for a communion to a higher power. I couldn’t help but to think about all of this in relationship to forgiveness. Are we hard wired to forgive? What do you think? More on this later.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Forgiveness and a lot more!

The end of a year is always a time of reflection for me. I often think about the meaning of the holiday season and how we can grow in love and forgiveness. The intention of this blog is to begin a dialogue which will help us learn how to grow in consciousness and forgiveness and to understand what this looks like from a spiritual, psychological and neuropsychological perspective.

For the next few weeks I will be sharing some of my thoughts on forgiveness and how it touches not only our personal lives but how when we can hold forgiveness in our hearts we can also be part of the healing of nations. I would like to invite all of you who read this post to share your stories of forgiveness, including your struggles, where you got stuck and how you were able to overcome your difficulties. For those of us who have been able to forgive, sharing our difficulties and the gifts we received in being able to forgive can help inspire others who may be struggling with their own difficulties. What books are you reading, what stories do you have to share, and what cutting edge research to do you know about? I want to hear from you.

I also welcome stories where some of you lived through group violence, genocide or war and how you were able to forgive the unimaginable. You can share any forgiveness story here or submit them to my website www.dreileenborris.com in its entirety. My hope is that for the next few weeks we can go through a journey together and be part of a growing group of people who not only want to change consciousness within themselves but within the rest of humanity. Are you ready?

I also want to invite you to visit the blogs of some wonderful people, all of whom are members of the Arizona Chapter of the National Speakers Association. We are supporting one another in a month long blogathon and their sites are listed below. I do hope that you will visit them. Everyone is an expert in their field and I know you will learn a lot from them and have some fun as well. I encourage you to leave comments since starting a dialogue is how we enrich one another.

Let me know what you think. I look forward to our journey together and to grow in love and forgiveness.


Jackie Dishner

Susan Ratliff, Exhibit Expert
Bling My Booth

Stephanie Angelo
Human Resource Essential Blog

Greg Peterson
Down On The Urban Farm

Bonnie Mattick

Andrea Beaulieu
True Potential
Conspiracy of Love

Beth Terry
Cactus Wrangler

Debra Exner
Collaboration Pays Off

Deborah M Dubree
I'll have a new name this week

Eileen Proctor
The Top Dog's Blog

Mimi Meredith
Bloomin' Blog

Suzanne Holman