Forgiveness..The Ultimate Freedom

Sometimes in life someone does something that we may feel is unforgivable. We get hurt, angry, resentful, and at times it can be all consuming. More and more though it is being found that these feelings negatively impact our health:
“There is an enormous physical burden to being hurt and disappointed,” says Karen Swartz, M.D., director of the Mood Disorders Adult Consultation Clinic at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. Chronic anger puts you into a fight-or-flight mode, which results in numerous changes in heart rate, blood pressure and immune response. Those changes, then, increase the risk of depression, heart disease and diabetes, among other conditions. Forgiveness, however, calms stress levels, leading to improved health.”

Forgiving can be a real challenge and it is important to remember that when we forgive someone we are not excusing the act but instead are releasing ourselves from it. In other words, we do this for us not for the other person.  One thing I want to mention is that time is a healer. It may be too much to attempt forgiveness until some time has passed. Allow yourself to feel all your feelings related to the incident and act accordingly. If you are angry express it, if you are upset shed your tears, give yourself permission to go through it all.

One thing I have suggested to my clients is to write the person who wronged them a letter. Put everything in that letter that they are feeling and use whatever language makes the most sense to them. Once it’s done set it aside. After a length of time that is appropriate for them I tell them to read it. Should you send it? Should the language be toned down? How do you feel now? Based on the answers to those questions they determine if it should be sent. Sometimes if it is too strong I suggest creating a ceremony where the letter is burned allowing all their anger literally go up in smoke.

Here are a few suggestions that may assist in forgiveness:

  • Decide that you want to forgive. A positive first step.
  • Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Is there anything that you can think of that may have contributed to the way this person acted? Not justifying it but understanding it
  • Speak your truth about the situation. Talk to someone you can trust and who’s advice you respect. Get another viewpoint.

As you forgive take a look at the relationship. It may be that you can forgive and not have this person in your life any more. If that is not possible or practical being honest with yourself is key. Are you expecting an apology? If you don’t see one coming than accept that and realize this has more to do with them than you. Freedom is key here and to get your wings, forgive and fly!

On Tuesday, March 14th, 7:00 PM Forgiveness will be the topic on The Night Shift.  I invite you to join me.

A W-I-S-E APPROACH TO RESOLVING CONFLICTS

In college, one of my philosophy professors would frequently have the class debate a hot topic. He’d randomly divide the class in half and have each side present their best argument in support of their assigned position. Regardless of how you felt personally, you were expected to gather as many facts as possible to present the strongest argument. It was actually quite stimulating as it challenged us to be willing to see the issue from every possible perspective. This lesson has served me well in life as I have always tried to view a subject matter from all sides.
In relationships, disagreement are normal and healthy. They allow us to open our minds to new ways of thinking. In business, brainstorming is a common practice whereby team members contribute every possible idea relating to the project they are collaborating on. Even those suggestions that are deemed unworkable still have value as they oftentimes spark a fresh idea that actually proves to be helpful. In politics, when applied correctly, the opposing sides can actually use their differences to find common ground that will serve the good of the entire country. It’s only when egos get in the way causing people to become fearful, selfish, and closed minded do disagreements cause tempers to flare and a breakdown in the negotiating process to occur.

However, there is a very W~I~S~E approach to resolving conflicts and disagreements with a high degree of success and minimal disappointment to all parties:

W – Wait: wait before you respond. A moment of pause can prevent a lifetime of regret. When the other party presents their position, if it differs from ours or what we were expecting, we can easily become upset or angry. An immediate response can cause an innocent situation to rapidly escalate into an argument.

In my book, The Secret Side of Anger, I teach people to practice the SWaT Strategy: Stop, Walk, Talk. When you find yourself become upset, Stop what you are doing/saying. In that way you can prevent yourself from saying/doing something regrettable. Secondly, Walk away. Out of sight, out of mind. Give yourself some space between you and the other party. Thirdly, Talk yourself calm. What you say to yourself will either cause your emotions to intensify or to subside. Once calm, return to the conversation ready to listen and respond rationally and fairly.

I – Intellect: use your rational brain to think about what is transpiring: the importance of the issue, what each party wants, how each person feels, and what it is that you each want to accomplish with the discussion. Oftentimes, we allow our irrational emotions to control our actions and comments. But emotions cloud rational judgment. It is critical that we remain calm so that our intellectual brain can gather all relevant data, process it, and determine the best possible course of action. Just as emergency responders need to put their feelings on hold in order to deal effectively with the crisis at hand, so must we be willing to do the same. And in doing so, we will make smarter more solution-oriented and all-inclusive choices that benefit all parties.

S – See and Smile: Always try to see things from the perspective of the other party. In this way, you are better able to understand their position and proceed in a more compassionate manner. It is imperative that we truly try to understand where the other person is coming from even if we don’t agree with their way of thinking. All people need and want to be understood and validated. This simple gesture begins laying a foundation of trust that enables both parties to move forward in a fair and timely manner towards a mutually agreed upon solution.

Smile: Did you know that the simple act of smiling releases endorphins in the brain, those feel-good chemicals that enable us to keep a positive attitude? A smile keeps your face friendly and your voice cheerful as well. While this may not sound like a significant gesture, it is in fact a powerful one. Would you not prefer to converse with someone who had a friendly face as opposed to one sporting a scowl?
Smiles are contagious and make us appear more attractive to others. They can lift our mood as well as the moods of those around us and have been shown to lengthen our lives as well. A smile wards off stress which in turn enables us to remain calm and focused. Our bodies relax making us less threatening and more welcoming from a physical perspective. All things considered, a smile is one of the most powerful tools we have in maintaining healthy inviting relationships and getting those differences resolved peacefully.

E – Express: Throughout the entire process, be certain to always express with respect – speak to one another with dignity and reverence at all times. Even those we don’t care for, who can be obstinate or rude, deserve respect. Ironically, many believe that respect must be earned or given to us before we are willing to reciprocate. However, Divine Law dictates otherwise. “Let all that you do be done in love.” “Love one another.” By our very nature, we are perfect beings deserving of respect. The very word respect means “to value”. Our Creator imparted equal worth to each of His sacred children.
One can be passionate, upset, angry, disappointed, or disagree with the other person while still expressing themselves in a respectful manner. I cannot expect others to treat me with regard if I am not first willing to do so for them. Ghandi’s inspiring words remind us to first be the change we want to see in the world. I must be the example of reverence that others may aspire to emulate.

I’ve always admired those who possess the gift of wisdom. Now each of us can be W~I~S~E in how we resolve our differences. If each of us followed these four simple steps, by example we could have a dramatic impact on reducing the amount of anger, fighting, and negativity that occurs in our immediate circles. Gradually, this would impact us on global level as well. Put some good vibrations into the universe by keeping conflict resolution peaceful and productive. Be W~I~S~E and be triumphant.

Q “Speak from the heart. Let all your words be tempered with kindness and in doing so you will garner respect and cooperation from all.”

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What Have You Done for Yourself Lately?

In the hustle bustle of our lives we sometimes get so caught up in taking care of everyone else we forget to take care of ourselves. Giving is great but if we don’t take some time to replace all the energy we are doling out we can get depleted and just plain exhausted.  Self nurturing doesn’t always come naturally to us so I am going to offer a few suggestions.

  • Buy yourself a fresh bunch of spring flowers. Every time you look at them take a deep breath and appreciate their beauty knowing you deserve this.
  • Schedule a spa treatment like a massage, pedicure or manicure.
  • Take a leisurely stroll outdoors. Survey your 5 senses and notice every little detail.
  • Spend some time with a good book or magazine.
  • Try a hobby you have been wanting to do but putting off because you just don’t have the time.
  • Go to a movie you want to see even if it means you go with yourself.

These are just a few ideas and I will have more on The Night Shift, Tuesday, 3/7, 7:00 PM EST. To pamper you even more I am going to get in as many mini readings as possible.

Join me because after all you deserve it!