This is a continuation of Part 2b where 2 forgiveness examples were provided, forgiveness was defined and the effects of unforgiveness was discussed.
To access Part 1 of the Blossom series (unhealthy Mindsets that hold you back), Click here.
How to Forgive – the Tri-Wisdom Way:
As promised in the last blog, I will be sharing a third forgiveness example in this blog:
Real life Forgiveness example #3:
The minivan that took away Sarah’s pain
Sarah emptied the contents of her wounded heart into an old minivan that was at the end of its life. She accompanied it as it was towed away to the dampstar (to be crushed and burned). She witnessed the destruction of all the pain she had poured into that minivan, watching it ALL get crushed with the minivan. Sarah walked away free, when her most potent pain – ill will toward her ex-husband – was crushed.
This man had cheated on Sarah for years and had done many other hurtful things that made Sarah feel useless, ugly, rejected, hated, resentful, angry, and hopeless. During their marriage, Sarah tried all that she could to keep the relationship going, but her efforts were not rewarded. He finally dumped her for another woman, leaving her with two kids to raise as a single mom.
As Sarah watched the minivan get crushed over and over, more repressed pain re-surfaced, one by one. She realized that pain from her ex. was not the only pain she was here to destroy. She decided to dump it all into the smoldering minivan and walk away from it. All of it.
She watched the pain of her friend’s betrayal go down with the minivan; abandonment from her daughter; bitterness against her church members for not coming to her aid when she needed them (despite all the sacrifices she had made for them); anger against her boss and her institution for firing her in the name of restructuring; resentment towards her son for impregnating a teenager in her care and causing her so much legal pain; rejection from her dad for not protecting her enough after her mom died and her own self – disdain for not standing up for herself sooner against all these people. She released it all. She left it all behind her.
Before that, Sarah’s pain was sucking up her energy and rendering her ineffective. She found herself sickly and tired all the time. But, that pain was finally being buried – once and for all!!! She felt light. She felt new as she walked forward with a glitter in her eyes, a stride in her step – into a new life. It was a life in which her ex was no longer a monster. A life in which contact with her offenders no longer evoked the pain it used to. She remembered the occurrences but not the related pain. The pain was dead and gone! Sarah was now free to begin again!
Using the ABC Strategy to Forgive. – Anyway…
A. Assess, Acknowledge and Appreciate the occurrence and its effects
1.Start by recalling how you reacted and how you felt during the occurrence.
2. Try to understand why you felt that way. Sometimes it is a true offence that needs to be resolved/forgiven but sometimes it may be something that needs to be changed within you – your perception. There’s always something to learn from what happened and even more to learn from your reaction to it. The effect of ‘what happened to you’ should never define you, as it did Sarah for a good portion of her life. What others do to you is just an occurrence, separate from who you are. Do not confuse the two.
3. Measure how the related emotions have affected you, taking note of what it is costing you in missed opportunities, ineffectiveness and possible illness. Keep in mind that it is entirely possible that the offender meant no ill and may not even be aware of the ‘poison you are drinking’ as a reaction to the offence! Remember that “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” – Nelson Mandela
B. Be Better: Believe in your ability to Forgive/learn how to forgive:
- Understand that Forgiveness is letting go of the past not condoning hurtful behaviors, or enabling them or denying that they happened.
- Envision and write down what the benefits will be when you forgive – benefits for yourself, the offender and all others who may be involved with you and/or the offender. For example,
Objectively empathize with the offender: What could have led to the offence? Is it something in the offender’s background? Did he/she not know any better? Is this person hurting in his/her personal life? People can only give what they have.
If ‘HURT’ is what they have, that is what they will dispense – sometimes they do it in ways that hurt directly or by falling short of their abilities (through compromised self-esteem). Ultimately, hurting people hurt others – knowingly or unknowingly. Without enabling the offender to reoffend, look for what the underlying need is that is causing him/her to behave that way. If it is within your power to help the offender to resolve the issue, help him/her do that.
C. Commit to your success and happiness through Forgiveness
To err is human. Understand that the offender is human and empathize with him/her. Let go of your expectations. If he/she is incapable of meeting your standards, reduce them to match their capacity.
1. Act quickly to forgive whether or not the offender repents. It gets harder the longer you wait as you will be prone to prejudging behaviors by the offender. It is not uncommon to start seeing the offender through the lens of the offence, thereby creating a self-fulfilling prophecy of how bad the offender is. Be resolute in offloading yourself of this Burden.
“Decide to forgive [regardless]. “Once you make that choice, seal it with an action. If you don’t feel you can talk to the person who wronged you, write about your forgiveness in a journal or even talk about it to someone else in your life whom you trust.” – Dr. Karen Swartz of the Johns Hopkins Hospital.
2. Let go for the right reasons – such as the ones you wrote down under B. (Be Better), above. It may be for the benefits of your health, your progress, relationship, peace, for the good of a stakeholder etc. Remember to forgive yourself as well. Just like you did for others, let go of your own mistakes.
3. Let go completely. If you need to do something symbolic to help you put away the pain and be free, do it. Sarah’s story above is a great example. Many have found this relief in recognizing that Christ got crashed to take away their sins by dying for them on the cross. He was crushed so that they could walk free. Feel free to rightfully use Him for that purpose and find freedom for yourself as depicted in this song.
In summary, forgiveness requires you to be proactive by realizing that we are all human and that you will be offended many times as you journey through life. Allow yourself to recognize, analyse and grieve the loss of trust without turning evil to others or to yourself. That you will offend others as well, is a given. You need to be aware and to admit it if you find that what you perceived as an offence was not valid. Assess and appreciate offensive incidences and the people involved, decide to be better by forgiving yourself and others – acting quickly to forgive completely and for the right reasons.
Play out scenarios that come your way and learn to not be easily offended. Being proactive with this exercise will help you to better empathize with others. This will provide practice on how to effectively deal with situations as they arise, with greater understanding and without compromising your values.
The upcoming Tri-wisdom effect book and an earlier blog post, provide some scenarios that you can practice with. As you read the scenarios, ask yourself how you would approach the issues described. Please share some of your insights in the comments box below. We can all learn from your approach.
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And … No, you wouldn’t want to miss my Next Blog Post, would you?
Of course not! In the next blog, we are moving on to part 3 of the blossom series (Cultures that frustrate our progress). To your success and True Happiness….