The Importance of Leadership in Ending the Cycle of Violence

The Middle East is no stranger to conflict and the flare up in recent weeks was another reminder that just because the conflict does not fill our TV screens every evening, it has far from gone away. Tensions have been mounting recently following difficulty accessing various religious sites, especially during Ramadan, while a number of Palestinian families were facing potential evictions from their homes as a result of some Israeli settlers making claims to their property.

It was against this backdrop that the Hamas terrorist organization proceeded to fire thousands of rockets at Israel who responded with air strikes on Gaza. The back and forth of rockets and missiles during 11 days of conflict resulted in the deaths of more than 256 Palestinians (including 66 children) and 13 Israelis (including 2 children) with many more injured and displaced. The cycle of violence which has taken place from generation to generation continues and nothing has been resolved or accomplished with no real end in sight. How do we deescalate this situation and finally have meaningful dialogue which works towards a solution? What is needed to achieve this?

Leadership. The cycle of violence, the continuous death and destruction must end and for that to happen real leadership is required. Strong and courageous leadership which seeks to actually resolve the conflict and not just calm it for now only to have it flare up months later. There have been some breakthroughs in the past, but these breakthroughs were initiated by the kinds of leaders we are missing today. These were leaders such as Yitzhak Rabin and Anwar Sadat. Shimon Peres and even Yasser Arafat were committed to coming together to build peace. Unfortunately, today the current Israeli Prime Minister is driven by his political survival while Hamas has exploited the very people they claim to fight for. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has no real control over Palestinians in and is seen as an illegitimate leader by the Palestinian people.

On the global stage there has been a complete lack of real leadership and an inability to bring both sides of the conflict together to discuss all the issues and to offer a viable long-term solution. This should not be seen as something that can be a short term fix and a ‘political win’ that only lasts six months followed by more violence and more missiles being fired. There needs to be a real concerted international effort to bring about an enduring peace to the region.

What is needed from the leaders of today is a genuine political will, and a change of mindset. Most people are in support of a two-state solution as the way forward, it is the only viable solution. There needs to be a change in mindset as to how this will be approached, how it is achieved and what that process looks like.

What would this leadership look like? In an article How Biden Can Be a Leader in an Israeli-Palestinian Conflict That Has None written by Daniel Kurtzer and Aaron David Miller for Politico steps are outlined which can begin a process to end violence between the Palestinians and Israelis. The argument is made that there is a role for American diplomacy that could make meaningful changes on the ground in the Middle East. It does not involve a major initiative to resolve issues such as Jerusalem, borders or refugees, but it does increase the odds of stopping the current and future violence. They outline practical steps which can be seen as a beginning of a political forgiveness process – to stop violence and engage leaders in dialogue including:

  • Nominating a U.S. ambassador to Israel and appointing a senior representative to work the issue full time and to coordinate with the International Quartet (representatives from the U.N., EU and Russia, and the Arab Quartet (Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates).
  • Start an honest dialogue with Israel on the steps Israel must take even as the current Gaza escalation winds down including stopping the demolition of houses and stop expanding settlements in Jerusalem to preserve the idea of two capitals for two future states.
  • Reopen a consulate general in Jerusalem and appoint a consul general to intensify direct dialogue with the Palestinian Authority.
  • Pressure the Palestinian Authority to stop its authoritarian practices and human rights violations. Urge them to hold elections recently canceled by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and to stop incentivizing and inciting violence.

There are important steps which need to be taken to set the stage for the necessary dialogues to begin. These steps begin with the importance of building trust. Leaders need to be able to step back and acknowledge their roles and their responsibility in the continuation of the conflict. They need to admit that there has been a wrong committed, that the current situation is not tenable causing more hurt on each side as the situation continues. Leaders need to talk to one another honestly and openly. They need to gain a better understanding of one another, listen to each other and together develop a framework to help resolve this conflict. There also needs to be an acknowledgment from both sides that things need to change to move to an agreed solution.  Leaders who are strong and courageous enough to do this are the real leaders.

We need visionary leadership that recognizes if occupation continues and voices of violent extremist are not marginalized, the violence will not stop. What has happened in the past must be dealt with head-on as a means of focusing all parties on the process and to put violence behind them. Leaders must honor the agreement of stopping violence at all costs and commit themselves to finding new ways of relating to one another. The reason there has never been success with this conflict is that both sides have shirked responsibility, have not admitted to the failings of the past processes, and did not approach this in good faith with an open mind. Instead, they have been approaching the conflict from their own points of interest and from a very narrow perspective, not appreciating that there is another side to this conflict and that a solution needs to work for both sides.

The human element of this conflict must also be addressed including the emotional undertow underlying the political situation which fuels the cycles of revenge. Leaders need to provide a mechanism to work through these emotions in a more productive way as it relates to the historical content of the situation. This requires leaders to respond to situations in a compassionate inclusive way that unites people instead of divides people. This needs to become a political mindset, a guidepost from which leaders act.

The human element is what will bring either success or failure to this process. You can put forth the best peace agreement which is all inclusive but this does not necessarily mean there will be any progress unless there is a change in mentality which transforms thinking so that compassion, inclusiveness, and respect outweigh the need for political gain, revenge, and divisiveness. There needs to be a change in an approach from all sides who are party to this conflict to start de-escalating the conflict and start moving towards a peaceful solution.

This will require international leadership, led by the US, Egypt and the International Quartert, and a transparent and accountable process. Leaders have the capacity to make choices based on greater wisdom and values which can help people rise to their best potential and to achieve shared ideals for a better existence. This is what we can strive for and what it will take if we want to end this conflict and finally break the cycles of violence. This is the work of political forgiveness.

 

 

The Beginning of a New Way Forward

As Charles Dickens once wrote in his novel A Tale of Two Cities, “it was the best of times, it was the worse of times.” Could this be true for us? We are coping with a pandemic and dealing with deep divisions and issues of racial injustice which are profound. Parallels have been drawn between what is happening now and during the Civil War. So where are “the best of times?”

Crisis brings opportunities. Out of our pain can come healing. We know healing begins with truth telling and accountability and fortunately we have models from around the world which we can learn from. The most notable comes from the work of Nelson Mandel and the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Although this commission had many flaws it is also a model which can teach us many things. Other models are emerging such as the work being done in Colombia with their truth commission. One of the most interesting aspects of this work is how it views different forms of the truth and works with the differing perceptions. Closer to home is the work done in Canada and their truth and reconciliation commission which provided those directly or indirectly affected by the legacy of the Indian Residential Schools system with an opportunity to share their stories and experiences.

A new way forward is about transformation. It takes time and a critical mass to get there. Unfortunately, our culture has de-valued many of its citizens and so our work begins with remembering our humanity, our inner-connectedness and what it means to be a human being. It means zero tolerance for any kind of violence. In this country what we must grapple with is the ideology of racism and violence and the denial of humanity for different groups of people. The work must be comprehensive and work on all levels of society. People need to change mind sets, communities must come together and heal, and there needs to be resources and commitment on the governmental level to change structures in society so what we are now experiencing can never happen again.

Can the worse of times become the best of times? Can we embrace this moment of crisis in a healing capacity as a country so we can go forward with a new vision of who we must be as a nation and have the capacity to demonstrate empathy and care for one another, showing that we value one another? Can we transform our structures to be inclusive instead of exclusive? What I have just described is the work of political forgiveness. In practicing forgiveness politically, we can grow in compassion and empathy and out of that can develop a new culture based on our humanness. This IS our way forward and gives us an opportunity to make profound changes in our society.

For those interested in learning more about political forgiveness please go to my website www.drborris.com. Feel free to sign up for the monthly newsletter which shares information and stories on political forgiveness when you go to the website.

The Poisoning of America’s Soul

Today is MLK day, to honor not only a man who was a great civil rights leader, but also a very spiritual man who had a great soul. His speeches and writings demonstrated a depth of thinking reflecting his beautiful heart for humanity. He understood the destructiveness of violence which not only destroys the social progress in America but also destroys the nations soul as well.

Reverend King often warned about the importance of caring for the worlds oppressed rather than taking sides with the oppressor and so I want to leave you with the words of King himself who speaks of the importance of re-directing ourselves to creating a better world no matter what it demands of us along the way.

“I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a ‘thing-oriented’ society to a ‘person-oriented’ society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

“We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with a lost opportunity. We still have a choice today, nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation. We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace and justice throughout the developing world a world that borders on our doors.

“If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality and strength without sight.”

For those of you who are interested in learning about forgiveness on a political level please go to my website www.drborris.com. You can also sign up for a monthly newsletter whose focus is on political forgiveness.

 

A Tribute to the Courageous and Beautifully Spiritual John Lewis

“Walk with the winds brothers and sisters and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide”

John Lewis –

           Representative John Lewis died July 17, 2020 at the age of 80 after a battle with pancreatic cancer serving more than three decades in Congress. A civil rights icon who began his life as the son of sharecroppers was by all accounts an ordinary man who because of his bravery, his acts of courage and commitment to making this world a better, more just place,  has changed this world. Almost losing his life during bloody Sunday’s march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama and being on the frontlines of a bloody campaign to end Jim Crow laws, Lewis never gave up hope for making this country a better nation.

Lewis reminded us to answer the highest calling of one’s heart. He spent his life demonstrating that the way of peace, the way of love and nonviolence is the best way if we want to achieve that peace. What Lewis was describing are principles of political forgiveness. Political forgiveness triumphs over violence, aggression, and war. It is a healing force that unites us instead of that which divides us. It is inclusive, not exclusive. It is a healing force that helps us understand one another instead of hating one another. What John Lewis stood for was political forgiveness in action. His attitude and philosophy in life was based on love. He regarded everyone with dignity and respect. His civil rights activism and his views on nonviolence were based in restoring relationships. And his greatest dedication to his life was changing political structures from those that supported structural violence to those that reflected justice and equality. The Voting Act of 1965 reflected that. As former president Barack Obama said about Mr. Lewis, “he as much as anyone in our history brought this country a little bit closer to our highest ideals.” Political forgiveness is one of those highest ideals.

We are a work in progress. Much healing needs to take place on all levels of society. This is where the power lies in a political forgiveness process. It addresses all levels of society in a coordinated and healing capacity. Lewis demonstrated moral courage and has asked us to do the same. Forgiveness requires moral courage. Lewis stood for unity not division, love not hatred and embraced taking responsibility to create a better society. These are some of the principles of forgiveness on a political level. Lewis never gave up and persevered against all odds. These are the qualities for us to emulate especially in a political forgiveness process.

John Lewis will be profoundly missed. Let us never forget the light that he shined upon this world. The greatest tribute we can pay to John Lewis is to keep fighting for what he stood for and in the way he led his life. He was truly a most spiritual human being.

Can We Truly Become Great Again?

I read an article the other day on “The coronavirus is an opportunity for people with privilege, and American society as a whole, to broaden their empathy for others.” The article spoke of the threat of death from an unseen virus which affects all of us regardless of class or race, and of the deep interconnectedness which unites us by globally crossing all color, economic and national lines. There are many lessons we are learning because of the circumstances we are finding ourselves in. If we do not take the necessary precautions and find a way to eliminate the virus we could die. We are also seeing that if we stop abusing our planet our water and skies become blue again as earth’s ecology becomes healthier.

 

But what about other aspects of our world we live in, the social aspects where we are seeing such injustice and inequality especially to those less fortunate, those more vulnerable, to people of color. This pandemic is shining a light on the unfairness that exists within our society. We see it in the numbers in which the pandemic disproportionately is affecting African Americans. We see it in society’s lack of concern on the toll of the elderly especially in nursing homes. What kind of collusion course are we on if we do not look at the divisions and if we do not correct the increasingly polarized, increasingly violent course we are on? How much longer can we go on ignoring how we are exploiting people within our own society, and how racism is running rampant because of the inherent superiority that feeds into racism, and the “right” to ignore laws at the expense of others. What kind of world are we creating within our own county whose foundation and glory was based in caring for others? This pandemic is showing us how far off from this ideal we have become.

 

The pandemic starkly reminds us that we are all in this together, that  we need not  just a medical vaccine but a vaccine against a larger and more insidious pandemic of racism and global injustice where 1% own and exploit more assets than everyone else combined. What is desperately needed is deep soul searching and a recognition of the complicity we all play in perpetuating an unjust society. Understanding and healing can come if we can develop within ourselves compassion and empathy. It is deep empathy that will ultimately lead us to making different choices and to the necessary breakthroughs that can serve humanity in a healing capacity. It is the lack of empathy that will keep us in the darkness that we find ourselves in today. Can we rise to the occasion and through acts of kindness and concern for one another truly become great again? This is our challenge, and this is also where our healing lies. What do you think?

 

When Our Pain Returns – Finding Forgiveness

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.