When Our Pain Returns – Finding Forgiveness

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When Our Pain Returns – Finding Forgiveness

Licensed Psychologist, Keynote Speaker, Best Selling Author, and Leader in Global Conflict Resolution

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.

Please share your thoughts on : https://www.facebook.com/7-Steps-to-Forgiveness-109220899099707/, twitter @erborris or www.linkedin.com/in/dreileenborris

As always, I am interested in hearing about your experience and welcome all your comments, so please feel free to share your thoughts on this blog. I am looking forward to hearing from you.

For more information on learning how to forgive go to “Finding Forgiveness: A 7-Step Program for Letting Go of Anger and Bitterness” by Eileen R. Borris-Dunchunstang.
https://www.amazon.com/Finding-Forgiveness-Bitterness-Borris-Dunchunstang-published/dp/B009CS3U6M/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1518395122&sr=8-2&keywords=Borris-Dunchunstang


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Want Inner Peace? – Here’s How: Step 7 – Gaining Inner Peace

Licensed Psychologist, Keynote Speaker, Best Selling Author, and Leader in Global Conflict Resolution

Once we have reached Step Seven in the forgiveness process, we have come to a very special place. There are certain things we have come to realize about our minds and the way we think. We may have realized that in a sense we have operated from two minds – our ego self and our spiritual self or the place of our divinity. When we function from the lower self, we believe that responsibility for whatever has taken place is outside of ourselves, not within. When we work through our higher or spiritual nature, our divinity helps us see through our illusions and misperceptions. Our spiritual essence is that part of our self that is in touch with the creative force and reminds us that this force is always within us. It is the part that tells us that there is another way we can go about living and interacting in this world. In Step Seven, the spiritual self is awakened, setting the stage for a transformation to take place that only forgiveness can bring.

This step not only asks us to understand what has taken place in another person’s life but also to recognize that what we see in them is the outer covering and not their true inner being. When we are able to see their inner light, no matter what the outer actions are, we are seeing with spiritual sight. All of us wear different outer clothes but are the same at the depth of our being, and so we look for their light and do not focus on the outer covering. When you can open your heart to others, no matter what the circumstances are, and not lose sight of their spiritual essence, a transformation within you takes place. Your life changes to a more meaningful existence and you experience the wonderful fruits of your labor. For some people these changes happen gradually, and they may not notice how profoundly they have changed. For others, their transformation can be so deep that not only is it a profound moment in their lives, what they chose to do becomes an incredible service to mankind.

When we make the commitment to forgive others, we are sometimes given a gift. If we find that we are struggling to forgive but know in our heart the commitment is there, sometimes a mysterious energy intervenes. We can experience this force as a surge of energy or the feeling of inexplicable love. Some people call it grace, and others call it a third factor that transcends anything they have ever experienced. At this point in our healing process, we open ourselves to the entirety of what is. In that opening we allow ourselves to be at one with a situation, or with life as a whole, and a profound healing takes place. There is nothing we can do to create this experience except to say to ourselves, “I take responsibility for my anger, guilt and pain and give it over to that which is greater than me.” If our request is heartfelt, we will get the help we need. This can be one of the most profound moments of our life when our prayers are answered.

With forgiveness the past, although not forgotten nor rationalized away, is not longer a haunting or burdensome issue. Instead, we experience a restoration of a sense of wholeness and of inner direction and an opening up of our heart to others. We can acknowledge that others act in a way human beings do, out of their fears, needs and perceptions, and that we are no different. This understanding makes it possible for us to live in a new and fuller way.

Last, the spiritual dimension of forgiveness cannot be over-looked. It is the transforming nature of forgiveness, coupled with what some experience; that involves more than our own will that makes forgiveness so profound. Once forgiveness is experience at this deeper level, we can realize the larger meaning of the injury. The sense of relief from the hurt itself seems to be only one aspect, perhaps even small, compared to the freedom we experience from forgiveness. The future opens with amazing possibilities, and we feel a fuller kinship with others and at the same time humbled by what seems to be a gift that only forgiveness can bring.

For your journal exercise, rewrite your forgiveness story, this time with the understanding you have gained going through the forgiveness process. Include in your story the understanding you have gained about yourself and the perpetrator. How has your thinking changed in terms of how you choose to see the world? Did you struggle with letting go of your anger and guilt and, if so, what happened or what did you need to have happen to finally let go? Did you experience a moment of grace and if so, how has that changed you? Finish your story with what you would like to do or say that you may not have been able to do yet.

Reflection: As you think about what you learned through this process what has seeing the world through spiritual sight taught you? What have you learned and gained from the forgiveness process?

And remember, forgiveness is the science of the heart. It is the anchoring of a new wisdom rooted in compassion. For those who have the courage to follow its path, forgiveness reminds us how to live wit love in a world filled with guilt and fear.

We are the ones who determine how much anger and hatred we will experience in our lives, as well as how much compassion and forgiveness we will extend to others. We have been given opportunities to hate and the wisdom to transcend our hate. Think of the personal power we much have to move beyond old choices and to respond to life from a place of spiritual wisdom. Our pain and suffering provide us with the chance to learn how to forgive and to know our truest, most beautiful nature. Forgiveness is the gift given to us to transcend our darkness and like alchemy, turns it to gold.

Please share your thoughts on : https://www.facebook.com/7-Steps-to-Forgiveness-109220899099707/, twitter @erborris or www.linkedin.com/in/dreileenborris
As always, I am interested in hearing about your experience and welcome all your comments, so please feel free to share your thoughts on this blog. I am looking forward to hearing from you.

For more information on learning how to forgive go to “Finding Forgiveness: A 7-Step Program for Letting Go of Anger and Bitterness” by Eileen R. Borris-Dunchunstang.
https://www.amazon.com/Finding-Forgiveness-Bitterness-Borris-Dunchunstang-published/dp/B009CS3U6M/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1518395122&sr=8-2&keywords=Borris-Dunchunstang


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Ouch! The Pain Really Hurts – Step Six: Absorbing Pain

Licensed Psychologist, Keynote Speaker, Best Selling Author, and Leader in Global Conflict Resolution

As we continue our journey in learning how to forgive we finally come to a place where we deal with our pain. Pain can feel devastating. We may try to deny it or cover it up, sometimes using alcohol and drugs, but eventually, if we want to forgive we will have to learn how to deal constructively with our pain. You have already begun healing your pain by uncovering and working through your anger and guilt. The next part of the process involves mourning.

To release pain, we need to grieve, especially for the loss the offense has brought, be it the loss of innocence or some ending that needs to be mourned. Mourning is essential for healing and moving on in our lives. It is also something we would rather avoid. Sometimes we refuse to grieve as a way of denying victory to the perpetrator. To the extent that we are unable to grieve indicates how much we are cut off from an important part of our own healing process. When we allow ourselves to mourn we discover that our inner strength is indestructible. Mourning means that we will have to live tomorrow differently than before, usually with a void to fill. This is the time we give ourselves permission to cry. For some of us, this could be for the first time. Often, especially if the offense happened when we were children, we had to keep in or deny feelings concerning what befell us as a way of survival. Now we can do things differently. Only when we give ourselves permission to feel the pain can we absorb it.

Absorbing our pain is the most difficult part of the forgiveness process. Paradoxically, by absorbing the pain, the pain slowly dissipates until we are freed from it. By absorbing the pain, we accept it and, instead of being a victim, we become survivors. In accepting the pain, we discover that we can begin to handle it and we become stronger. This is how the pain lessens. Accepting pain is a pivotal step in the forgiveness process. As we learn how to do this for ourselves, our hearts begin to open, and we gain a greater ability to care for ourselves and others. When we finally begin to hurt and grieve, we free ourselves of those emotional burdens. This is how we heal. In taking responsibility for our emotional life, as difficult as this may be, we become stronger and more complete.

Part of our healing is to give our pain meaning. It brings us peace when out of tragedy something good comes from it. Many organizations have been formed in the name of a loved one, usually with the hope that their work will make a difference in the lives of others. By helping others heal, we are developing “spiritual currency” for ourselves, which has a dramatic effect on our healing process. By giving to others and helping to create a better world, we give meaning to our life. This spiritual currency helps to fill a void that many tragedies bring. Often when we make these kinds of decisions a spiritual transformation takes place within us. Even if we don’t begin something new, by creating something positive, however small, it will begin to give us peace.

For this journal exercise, allow yourself to feel your pain and grief and whatever it is that is festering inside of you. Explore these emotions and ask what they want to tell you. What does your grief need to be healed? What does your pain need to be healed? How can you give pain meaning? What will your life be like once you are able to absorb your pain? If you are having difficulty absorbing your pain, what is getting in the way? Explore the resistant part of yourself. Ask your resistance what it wants and needs from you. Examine all these emotions until nothing is left. Then describe what your life would look like if you could accept your pain, heal your grief, and bring new meaning to your life.

Reflection: As you think about mourning and letting-go think about what does it mean for you to accept your pain? Can any of your beliefs help you in this process? Are there feelings you are holding onto that nurture your pain? Is there something you can do that will symbolize the acceptance of your pain?

Please share your thoughts on : https://www.facebook.com/7-Steps-to-Forgiveness-109220899099707/, twitter @erborris or www.linkedin.com/in/dreileenborris
As always, I am interested in hearing about your experience and welcome all your comments, so please feel free to share your thoughts on this blog. I am looking forward to hearing from you.
For more information on learning how to forgive go to “Finding Forgiveness: A 7-Step Program for Letting Go of Anger and Bitterness” by Eileen R. Borris-Dunchunstang.
https://www.amazon.com/Finding-Forgiveness-Bitterness-Borris-Dunchunstang-published/dp/B009CS3U6M/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1518395122&sr=8-2&keywords=Borris-Dunchunstang


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Will the Real Person Please Stand Up! Step 5 – Reframing the Situation

Licensed Psychologist, Keynote Speaker, Best Selling Author, and Leader in Global Conflict Resolution

As you continue your forgiveness journey and have begun to work through your emotional pain we come to the step which entails changing our thinking about the situation. We have begun to heal our anger and guilt, which helps us to see things differently. Once we have learned the lessons our emotions want to teach us, the reins of pain loosen. At this point of the forgiveness process, we are ready to think about the other person who needs forgiveness, and not the incident or the pain it has caused. We begin to reframe the situation in a different conceptual context. We recognize that outward appearances don’t tell the entire story of what is inside a person. This realization helps us shift our focus from ourselves to thinking about the perpetrator. We begin to ask the questions, “Why did this person behave in a certain way? What life events brought this person to do this particular act at this particular time?” When we ask these questions, we eventually recognize that a healthy and happy person would not do harm to others. Only those who are wounded themselves would continue to perpetuate suffering. That’s why our healing is important; so, we do not react from our pain, creating more pain for others.

We learn how to become more compassionate by being willing to walk in someone else’s shoes and see the world from that person’s psychological perspective. Compassion involves being open to the suffering of oneself and others in a nonjudgmental way. We are willing to look at their life events and how those events have affected them We recognize how their pain has caused them to behave in the ways we have experienced them. This may help us appreciate how lucky we have been that our life circumstances have been much better than theirs. The more you grow in compassion, the more resilient you become in dealing with painful situations and the greater your ability to transform these situations into more positive conditions. Compassion becomes a source of inner strength. As we grow in compassion and begin to develop a spiritual understanding that an outward behavior does not negate the true essence of who this person is, our commitment to the forgiveness process deepens.

For your journal exercise rewrite your story to create a “healing” story that reflects an understanding of the perpetrator. Put yourself in his or her shoes and include a description of the perpetrator and what motivated the action. Where were the wounds? What was this person’s life like that possibly led to the action? If you found that a lot of anger or resistance came up and you could not put yourself in the perpetrator’s shoes, explore that. Did a shift in your thinking take place and, if so, how did it happen? If not, journal with what is blocking you in making that shift. Describe how you can see the situation differently now.

Reflection: As you think about reframing your situation ask yourself, what are some things you can do to grow in compassion? What are your spiritual beliefs about who we are as human beings? Can these spiritual beliefs help deepen your commitment to forgive? Are you willing to consider forgiveness and, if not, what is getting in your way? Please share your thoughts on : https://www.facebook.com/7-Steps-to-Forgiveness-109220899099707/, twitter @erborris or www.linkedin.com/in/dreileenborris

As always, I am interested in hearing about your experience and welcome all your comments, so please feel free to share your thoughts on this blog. I am looking forward to hearing from you.
For more information on learning how to forgive go to “Finding Forgiveness: A 7-Step Program for Letting Go of Anger and Bitterness” by Eileen R. Borris-Dunchunstang.


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Learning How to Forgive: Step 2 – Telling Your Story

 

Once you recognize the healing effect that forgiveness can have in your life and that revenge will not take your pain away, you are ready to take the next step in the forgiveness process. Step two is about telling your story to those you trust. You begin with what is inside of you right now. Most of us feel some very strong emotions and the need to for revenge may still be lurking not far behind. Tell your story as completely, and with as much depth and detail as possible. You may want to start with a review of your life and the circumstances that led up to the event. Talk about important relationships and whatever else is pertinent to provide a context within which the particular meaning of the event or events can be understood. Then give a detailed account, your response to it, and the responses of the important people in your life. If it is difficult to talk about it, write or draw your story. Drawing pictures can be tremendously healing in working through painful material. Tell your story as though you were watching a movie with as much vivid description as possible. What are you seeing, feeling, hearing, smelling, and thinking?

When you first tell your story, it may be incomplete. It is important to bring all the pieces together, including what you felt and the meaning of the event to you and to the people 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.
As you tell your story, some of you may feel a great deal of anxiety. This is when you stop and use relaxation techniques to help manage strong emotions. Once you feel in control, you can continue where you left off or return to it on another day.

For your journal exercise for Step Two write a script describing the event in detail. This description should include the context of the situation, facts, emotions, and meaning. If there were 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.

Reflection: For this week’s forgiveness activity for Step Two reflect on these questions. Why did this situation happen to me? Why did this situation happen to the others included? Please share your thoughts on www.facebook.com/7steps to forgiveness, twitter @erborris or www.linkedin.com/in/dreileenborris

As always, I am interested in hearing about your experience and welcome all your comments, so please feel free to share your thoughts on this blog. I am looking forward to hearing from you.
For more information on learning how to forgive go to “Finding Forgiveness: A 7-Step Program for Letting Go of Anger and Bitterness” by Eileen R. Borris-Dunchunstang

 


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Getting Started – Step One in Learning How to Forgive

This is an exciting day. You have decided that your emotional health and well-being is very important, and you are ready to take the first step in letting go of your emotional pain. As with any difficult emotional work it is important to have a strong and healthy emotional support network. Have people around you who love you and support you in healthy ways. It would be great to have a companion throughout your forgiveness journey to be your sounding board and support. Make sure you are under the care of a therapist if you are dealing with difficult issues such as trauma, depression, anxiety or suicidal thoughts.

The first thing you may want is a journal or a notebook. This will become an invaluable tool and is for you only. Writing what comes to mind is one way to give all the stuff trapped inside of you voice. You can write down during moments of reflection or for a pouring out of whatever needs to be expressed. Keep writing no matter what comes up. By writing things down, you are giving your emotions voice, dissipating their energy.

Write in your journal for a few minutes every day while working on this program. Pick your own best time to do this. Find a place where you will not be disturbed and use the same place every time you write. Before you begin, take a few very deep breaths to help quiet your mind and body. Begin journaling by allowing whatever needs to come up to be written even it seems totally off the wall. Allow your writing to guide you.

Step One is about becoming clear. One of the greatest obstacles in learning how to forgive is that people do not have a clear understanding of what forgiveness means. Remember that forgiveness focuses on your inner healing and is not necessarily about an outward behavior. It is not about letting someone off the hook. It is about you releasing your emotional pain so that you can have a happier and more fulfilling life. Part of becoming clear about what forgiveness is involves acknowledgment of our need for revenge. This stems back to the notion of an “eye for an eye,” and it is also what our natural tendencies are. If someone attacks us, we feel that justice is not served until there is some form of retribution. We will talk more about this later, but for now we recognize that retribution is only one way to handle a situation and it never gets us what we really want.

The last important issue to think about in this step is your motivation. A lot of emotional healing may need to take place before you are truly ready to forgive. Acknowledging this is healthy and normal. If you understand the true meaning of forgiveness and realize that revenge will not get you what you really want, then you have set the stage for forgiveness. At the beginning of this process, all you need is a little willingness to entertain the idea that forgiveness can be an option in terms of what you would like to do. A little willingness means that you are receptive to the idea of forgiveness and are willing to let the forgiveness process work itself out, however long it takes. This includes the willingness to put aside any thoughts of revenge and to focus on healing. That little willingness is what will help you open the door for forgiveness to enter your life when you have done your emotional healing work. What is just described is what step 1 is about.

For your journal exercise for step one focus on getting clear regarding what forgiveness is and why you are thinking about the forgiveness process now. Write down your understanding of what forgiveness means and what is happening in your life right now that may be serving as a catalyst for thinking about forgiveness. Some of you may want to write a revenge fantasy. If you do, ask yourself after you finish your story what you will have gained by revenge. Does revenge complete anything, and what are the repercussions of revenge? Explore revenge and ask what the need for revenge inside of you is saying. Write about how revenge will hurt you and what you will need to do to bring about a little willingness to entertain the thought of forgiveness.

Reflection: For this week’s forgiveness activity for Step One reflect on these questions. What steps can I take that will serve me with insight, compassion and wisdom? How will I deal with facing my issue bravely and with willingness to see the reality of the situation from multiple perspectives? Please share your thoughts on www.facebook.com/7steps to forgiveness, twitter @erborris or www.linkedin.com/in/dreileenborris

As always, I am interested in hearing about your experience and welcome all your comments, so please feel free to share your thoughts on this blog. I am looking forward to hearing from you.

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

 


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Join the Forgiveness Campaign

Relationships can be difficult and sometimes painful. We get hurt, are angry and sometimes these feelings turn into bitterness. But do these emotions get us what we want? Is there a better way to deal with our emotional burdens? This is what forgiveness is about. It helps us with our inner healing and is not about letting someone off the hook. For the next 9 weeks I will be talking about forgiveness, what it is and what it isn’t. Each week will focus on one of the steps on how to forgive. I will also ask questions for you to think about and I am hoping that we can start a dialogue on what is forgiveness and how to forgive. This is the first week of the forgiveness campaign. I have discussed in my previous blog what forgiveness is.  The first question is to ask yourself Am I receptive to the idea of forgiveness? If so, how will I ensure I approach this issue without compromising my authenticity? Please share your stories, your questions and your thoughts here or on my blog. www.drborris.com. Next week I will talk about the first step in how to forgive. I hope you will join in. Let the forgiveness campaign begin!

Licensed Psychologist, Keynote Speaker, Best Selling Author, and Leader in Global Conflict Resolution