In Part One, we explained many serious health hazards of unforgiveness. Refusing to forgive a wrongdoer is the underlying cause of unhappiness, trouble in relationships and illness. Your healthier choice is to break the bond of unforgiveness before it breaks you. Now you’ll discover how to do this in Part Two of our series.
You’ll get a step-by-step guide to help you forgive even the most egregious offenses as I summarize my radio interview with Dr. Juliet Rohde-Brown. She is a psychologist, a world-renowned teacher of forgiveness and author of Imagine Forgiveness: How To Create A Joyful Future.
Let’s clear up any confusion about what it means to forgive. How do you define forgiveness?
Forgiveness is a process that is clearly defined by researchers Enright and Fitzgibbons who have run clinical studies on how people forgive:
“People upon rationally determining that they’ve been unfairly treated, forgive when they willfully abandon resentment and related responses to which they have a right and endeavor to respond to the wrongdoer based on the moral principle of beneficence– which may include compassion, unconditional worth, generosity and moral love to which the wrong doer, by nature of the hurtful act or acts has no right.”
I’ve got a question about beneficence which refers to an act that benefits others. Doesn’t forgiveness benefit the one who forgives more than their wrongdoer?
It depends on the model of forgiveness, whether it’s for learning or reconciliation. You can forgive someone without informing them so that you reap the health benefits. If you actually reconcile with your wrongdoer, then each of you benefit.
When someone has a serious offense to forgive, what steps do they take to go through the forgiveness process?
* Start with an uncovering what it is that you want to forgive.
* Make a decision to forgive. This sounds like, “I decide to forgive so-and-so for such-and-such.” You fill in the person’s name and offense. Use your own name if you want to forgive yourself.
Begin the work phase. You do some practices like mindfulness, loving kindness, journaling and possibly working with a therapist to help you forgive the worst offenses. You lead with your core values which helps you rise above any offense and be more mature by doing so.
* Notice how the process deepens your sense of self and changes your perspective on the world. When you make a difference in yourself, you make a difference in the world. It’s not an easy process, but it works.
Do you follow the same process if you want to forgive yourself for something you’ve done or failed to do?
When we forgive ourselves, we must add another step to this forgiveness process. We need to achieve reconciliation with ourselves.
We do this by coming back to a place of loving ourselves, of treating ourselves like a responsible parent treats a helpless child who depends on them. We protect, embrace, feed and nurture our innocent child inside our core. We keep them warm and safe from things that can go wrong. When we reconcile with ourselves, we reconcile with that innocent part–the child who has a sense of wonder in the world.
What exercises help us reconcile and reconnect with our innocence?
One way to do it is to work with mindfulness practices like being aware of your breathing and thoughts passing. You get into an awareness stance.
Then you can do the loving kindness meditation by following these 5 steps:
1. You envision yourself as a young child with big, innocent eyes looking out at you. While breathing deeply from your belly, you see your own face in front of you and you offer love to your younger self.
2. Next you move your imagined image to someone whom it’s very easy to love and feel their love in return. This person can be living, deceased, an imaginary person, even an animal. You see their face in front of you and you open your heart to give love back and forth.
3. Then you move into images of loving family or friends. When you get used to making a heart connection with them, then you are ready for the next step.
4. Look at an image of someone who’s causing you to struggle and extend loving kindness to them.
5. Go back to imagining someone who is easy to love and repeat the process.
What are the benefits of the loving kindness exercise?
As you do this exercise you can feel loving kindness in its purity. This creates a shift in your body away from the tense clenching of unforgiveness into the calm peace of forgiveness.
When you do this exercise on a regular basis it also helps you make a heart connection with people you see in your daily life, which deepens and enriches your relationships. In Part Three, you’ll find out how your imagination in a bridge to forgiveness that changes your life and the lives of everyone around you.
I encourage you to add forgiveness to your relationship success tool kit to experience greater health, happiness and love. I’ll help you develop all the skills you need to be even more successful and build better relationships with everyone in your life when you begin your exciting, life-changing program at GreaterSuccessAndLove.com
Love deeply and live your dreams now,