Learning How to Forgive: Step 2 – Telling Your Story

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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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Make Forgiveness a New Year Resolution for a Happier You!

The holidays are family time and for some, being with family can trigger stress and bring up issues of the past. Family ties are important so learning how to have healthier and happier relationships with family members can go a long way. Being able to forgive ourselves and one another is an essential element in developing healthy relationships and so I invite you to join in a forgiveness campaign for the next 8 weeks to learn what forgiveness is and how to do it. I hope people will share their stories about forgiveness, their struggles and successes, learn what forgiveness truly means and how a little willingness to forgive can help to release the emotional burdens which keeps us from connecting on a deeper level with one another and having peace of mind.

A story that I would like to share is concerning the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building which took place in Oklahoma City, April 19, 1995. Bud Welch whose twenty-three -year -old daughter was killed in that bombing. Welch’s words were “Fry those bastards!” I want Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols hanged, no trials necessary. “From that moment I learned it was a bomb, I survived on 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. When he saw McVeigh’s father on television a few months after the bombing, however, his emotions began to change. He realized that “this man has lost a child, too.”

Not all of us could come to this conclusion so quickly. What did Bud Welch know that most of us might not if we found ourselves in a similar situation? Before Bud could get to this place of recognizing that both fathers were dealing with a painful loss, he had to deal with his personal healing.

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.” 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.
What Bud was able to accomplish you, too, will be able to do if you choose to. The journey begins with understanding what forgiveness with all its complexities truly means.

Throughout our lives most of us have been taught about forgiveness. Each one of us thinks differently about what forgiveness means, ranging from emotional weakness to high moral standards. To be able to forgive, we need to understand what forgiveness means. Otherwise, our misconceptions can become obstacles in our ability to forgive.
Forgiveness is a process that shows us how to heal emotional pain by choosing to see the person who caused the pain differently. It is about changing the way we think about ourselves and the way we see the world. 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.

Ultimately, forgiveness is about changing the way we think. Its transformational power moves us from being helpless victims of our circumstances to powerful co-creators of our reality. We learn to see people anew every day in terms of their future potential, not their past deeds. In becoming more loving, compassionate and understanding human beings, we gain the ability to have a deeper relationship with ourselves and with the significant people in our lives and we will know true peace.