When Our Pain Returns – Finding Forgiveness

  • -

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


  • -

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School finds a Way Through Forgiveness

Thousands of mourners attend a candlelight vigil for victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida on February 15, 2018.

A grieving community tries to come to grips with the loss of 17 precious lives. Mourners come together to honor the victims as sadness clutches the face of so many people trying to make sense of what has happened. As tears wash the pain and sorrow felt in so many hearts, behind those brave faces is a sense of fear and confusion after such a devastating event. Despite this horrific tragedy so many students demonstrated the best of humanity.

While thousands of mourners slowly gathered on that mild February day a group of eight high school students formed a tight circle. As people met each other with hugs and tears before Thursday’s vigil for the dead, eight students appealed to a higher being to save the souls they had just lost. They reflected on the sanctity of life. They held each other up just 24 hours after experiencing senseless evil. Shay Makonde, a junior at the high school led the group in prayer. His message was that we shall carry on for the lives that were lost. For Shay, the day after the shooting was not only about community, it had also presented the challenge of forgiveness.

Shay had to deal with his own trauma. The day before he led those prayers, Shay was in one of the hallways where Nikolaus Cruz, the 19-year-old suspect, opened fire on students. Shay pulled two of his classmates into a hallway during the shooting. What was most striking was that Shay heard Cruz laughing before he saw a third friend go down.

Notwithstanding what had happened Shay said that he cannot hate the shooter. Instead, Shay says he wants to focus on the people he still has in his life, and on honoring his lost friend’s life. Hatred, he said, only breeds more hatred and pain.

Even with the horrific nature of the attack other students also found a way forward through forgiveness. One student, Daniela Menescal who like others thought that a drill was taking place until the moment bullet fragments slammed into her back and leg. She hid behind a metal cabinet as gunfire sprayed the room. The girl in front of her was hit in the face, a bullet was lodged in her eye. Menescal survived and made it home bandaged with metal from the bullets still inside her. Despite all that happened to her that day she found it in her heart to forgive. When asked what message she wanted to get out it was forgiveness. “In the back of his mind, God is with him and I know that we all deserve a second chance, and that even for all that he caused, we forgive him. I forgive him,” Menescal said.

The killing of 17 people at the high school in Parkland, Fla., has yet to reveal much forgiveness toward the shooter. It is too early. People need time to recovery physically and emotionally. The anger over the murders, especially among Parkland students, is directed mainly at elected officials and the cause of controlling access to guns, especially assault rifles. That debate should not be deflected or weakened. Yet at the same time, the United States can tackle the issue of whether better qualities of care in society – including the role of forgiveness – might help prevent a similar shooting.

After the 2015 shooting that killed nine people in a Charleston, S.C., church, many in the predominantly African-American congregation forgave the young white male gunman. In doing so, they hoped not only to heal the hatred they felt but the hatred in him that motivated the crime. In addition, they hoped their forgiveness might enable them to better reach others prone to violence and perhaps prevent a similar massacre.

We may want to think about this and the role forgiveness can play in our society. With so much hatred and violence taking place changing mindsets can go a long way in healing the maladies we face. Forgiveness can break the cycles of violence and have a healing effect which our society so desperately needs.

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


  • -

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


  • -

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


  • -

What Does Forgiveness Mean to you?

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

 

Alexander Pope said it best: “To err is human, to forgive divine.” If you’ve ever been deeply hurt by someone or suffered through a painful ordeal, you know how hard it is to forgive and forget. Being able to forgive ourselves and one another is an essential element in developing healthy relationships in our day-to-day lives and in the world. A willingness to forgive can help release the emotional burden that keeps us from connecting on a deeper level with one another and from having peace of mind. But what is forgiveness?

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.

Please share your thoughts on : www.drborris.com: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. 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.


  • -

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.


  • -

Got Anger? Step Three: Now is the time to let it Go!

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

Got anger? To be human is to have anger. It is an important emotion. 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 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.

For your journal exercise rewrite your story. Focus on your anger and give your anger voice. Ask your anger what it is trying to tell you. How is your anger protecting you? If you are having difficulty letting go of your anger, ask yourself what are you accusing the offender of? Deep down inside, you are secretly accusing yourself of the same things. For example, if you are accusing someone of betraying you, you may have never betrayed someone in the same way but perhaps you have betrayed yourself or others in some other way. Ask yourself, have I ever betrayed (or whatever the issue may be) someone else or myself in a different way and journal with whatever comes up. Explore your anger until you find out what needs to change inside of you and, possibly, what outer changes you may also want to make. Ask your anger how it can be used in a healing capacity.

Reflection: To get a deeper understanding of your anger ask yourself, “what are the lessons my anger is trying to teach me?” Repeat this question at least five times so you can get beneath the surface of your anger to what is happening deep within yourself. Also ask yourself, “what do I emotionally experience as I tell my story?” As you gain greater understanding do you begin to experience your emotions differently. 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.

 


  • -

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

 


  • -

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

 


  • -

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.