Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Your forgiveness moment - Will I ever gt over it and be able to forgive?

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?

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?

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://

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 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