Helpful Forgiveness Hint

When starting to be a forgiver (someone who forgives consistently), try to begin with hurts that are not so large. It is not unlike starting an exercise program. If you try to run 5 miles the first day or to bench press too much weight too soon, you get quite sore, quite discouraged, and may stop exercising. If you start slowly, you build up strength so that you can handle the longer run or the challenging bench press. Start forgiving someone who has not gravely hurt you and work up to those who have.

R.E.

Celine Healy

Learning to forgive oneself is the hardest part because we do not necessarily see how unforgiving we are with ourselves. When we come to this place of total acceptance, then we will come to a place of love, of self and others. It took many years to be able to do this for myself and I discuss this story in my book: Actually, It’s About Love!, sub titled: The Five Steps to Live the Life You Deserve. You can download the first two chapters as my gift to you when you visit the website: actuallyitsaboutlove.com.

What is the difference between letting go of your anger and forgiving a person?

When we forgive, we tend to let go of most or sometimes all of our anger. When we let go of our anger we do not necessarily forgive. For example, we can let go of anger and dismiss a person as unworthy of our respect or love. Forgiveness, on the other hand, strives to respect and love those who have hurt us. Forgiveness never condemns a person for an unjust act. At the same time, forgiveness does acknowledge unjust acts as wrong.

When I was 16 I got pregnant to my 21 year old boyfriend and since the beginning my parents and family prohibited me to see him. I always had a grudge on them for being the reason my daughter ,now 3, doesn’t have a father figure in her life. I was previously under alot of emotional stress where I became suicidal and thank god I’m fine now but I still have that anger and grudge feeling, how can I her rid of it because I know that all they’ve done was be supportive but I don’t know how to forgive them.

First, I am sorry for your difficulties with your parents. This has been very hard on you. You are seeing that your parents and you have had different values regarding your seeing the father of your child. A key here is to see that both of you have good reasons for your decisions. In your case, you wanted your daughter to have a father. In your parents’ case, they wanted to protect you. Your decision to forgive them is a good one because, as you know, your intention to have a father for your daughter is an honorable intention.

This decision to forgive is courageous and it may take some time. We have a step-by-step process for forgiving that is described in my new book, The Forgiving Life. Because you are raising a child alone, I would like to send you a free copy of that book. If you feel comfortable doing so, please leave your mailing address with our director (director@internationalforgiveness.com). I will see to it personally that you receive the free copy of the book. As you read it, please ask questions here and we will help you.

Thank you for your courage.

Should We Talk about Forgiveness in the Context of a Loved-One’s Suicide?

While in Northern Ireland last week, I gave two invited talks on the topic of forgiveness in the context of a loved-one’s suicide. Suicide, especially among young-adult males, is a serious and growing problem there. I made the point that there are at least four scenarios with moral import surrounding this issue:

1) Some people who have lost loved ones in this way will reason that suicide is not immoral. Therefore, they will see no need to forgive because no injustice occurred;

2) Some people who have lost loved ones in this way will say that suicide is not immoral, but they are most likely in denial because their reasoning is not clear and their emotions are raw and angry;

3) Some will say that suicide is always wrong because it is always wrong to take an innocent life, including one’s own;

4) Some will say that the act of suicide itself is not morally wrong, but the consequences of doing so are wrong because those left behind have had love taken from them.

My linking forgiveness with suicide will have direct relevance for those in situations 2-4, but not in situation 1 above. Those in situation 2 might get very angry at me (and some did) for even mentioning the issue of morality and forgiveness in the context of suicide because they harbor worry (about the loved one’s eternal salvation, as an example) and they may harbor some guilt (in that they did not do enough to prevent it). People in this situation 2 want to distance themselves from the worry and/or the guilt. A talk on forgiveness and suicide does not help them to distance from these issues.

Those in situations 3 and 4 tend to seek relief for their own bitterness and anger. They are often angry at the deceased and they can be angry at others who did not do more to help. They also can be angry with themselves for a number of reasons, including their extreme emotions such as hatred or their reasoning that they could have done more. In these cases, it seems that it is worth hypothesizing that forgiveness education and therapy could be helpful in restoring emotional well-being.

What I found interesting is that some (a rare few) in situation 2 were adamant against my speaking at all about this topic. They were offended by the talk. It is as if I have no right to speak about a link between suicide and forgiveness and no one else has a right to hear about it or to work in a psychological sense on their own emotions.

So, here is my recommendation. Let us respect each person as a person and let us respect each one’s choice to hear or not to hear such information. Some will choose not to hear, but they should not condemn those who do. Some will choose to hear, but they should not condemn those who wish not to hear.

This is an important and sensitive area. We must move forward to help those who seek help through forgiveness and we must do so with gentleness and respect for all.

R.E.

The Call for Forgiveness in Nigeria, a National Pain Reliever

Nigerian Tribune. Saturday, June 23 2012.????Peter Salawu, a college student at Federal Polytechnic Bida, Niger State, called on the people of Nigeria today to consider forgiving one another as a way to quell bomb blasts and other acts of aggression in his country.

“Let us remove thoughts of revenge from our hearts and begin to love unconditionally; it heals our relationship and lives. Think of forgiveness, not so much as an act, but as a lifestyle. Try to forgive and forget, let by-gone be by-gone. Enough is enough of bomb blasts and terrorism in our beloved country, Nigeria.”

According to Federal Polytechnic Bida student Peter Salawu, “To ensure a better Nigeria, let us learn how to forgive and bury the hatchet and let the sleeping dog lie, because nothing good comes out of revenge, rather it complicates issues by making people kill their fellow brothers without having a rethink.

“I used to think that by withholding forgiveness from my offenders they would suffer. I later realised that I was the one suffering when I finally understood the power of forgiveness, it was truly enlightening. I discovered that I have a lot more freedom, felt happier and focused.”

Full report here.

Pat

I was 6 1/2 years old. It was late summer and I was outside alone wearing a Tee-shirt and shorts. We lived in a suburb of Los Angeles. Our driveway separated our neighbors’ grass. The lady next door came out of her front door with a plate in her hands. She walked down the 3 steps from her porch and came directly toward me. She had cookies and wanted to know if I would like one. I looked and said yes. But instead of giving me one right away, she backed up toward her house all the way up the stairs and into her house.

I followed slowly and hesitated before going into her house. But my focus was on getting a cookie so I kept following her into the house. I was led by her down a dark hallway to a left turn where she disappeared from sight. When I stepped into the room, I saw a man lying naked on a bed and suddenly the lady was violently yanking off my shorts and underwear and T-shirt.. She brutally sexually assaulted me causing me a lot of pain and bleeding. Then she picked me up like a sack of potatoes and violently threw me on the bed causing my joints to all feel like they were coming apart. Then the man put his knees on both sides of me and hit me hard in the ribs and back. Then he laid on top of me so I couldn’t breath and hurt me trying to penetrate me. He hurt me a long time. I just closed my eyes. They insulted me and made fun of me.

Finally, the man finished and left me alone for a moment. He rolled over and got something off a table next to the bed. It was a knife. He pit the knife to my throat and said if I told anyone what happened he knew where I slept and would come into my bedroom at night and cut my throat. He repeated this several times while pressing the knife hard against my throat and then slid the knife across my throat cutting it from side to side deep enough to make it bleed, but not pour out blood. They kicked me out saying I was stupid and an idiot. I had a terrible time getting my clothes on and couldn’t open the door. And each second they were more threatening and saying things to me to scare and intimidate me.

I never said anything to anyone for over 40 years. I hate these people for what they did to me that day and for messing up my life; living in fear and being filled with rage. But I need to let this go and get on with what is left of my life and that is why I told my story here.

How do I know when and if I am forgiving? What does it feel like? I am a young woman from a normal (read: alcoholic, broken, etc.) family. Now, in times of stress, when I know I should forgive myself, or my partner, I feel only anger or numbness. I want peace, and I want to learn to forgive. Can you tell me where to start, and how i’ll know I’m forgiving? Thank you.

This is an important question. You will know that you have begun to forgive when you wish the other person well. This wishing-the-other-well may start as just a glimmer in your heart at first, but then it grows.

Anger is usually the place where forgiveness begins because when we forgive, we react to unfair treatment and our first reaction is likely to be anger or numbness, just as you describe. So, you are not alone in these feelings.

When you start a forgiveness process, please be aware that you are giving mercy to the one who hurt you. You are willing to get rid of resentment and to offer goodness of some kind to him or her. This takes time, so please be gentle with yourself.

As you continue to forgive, this idea of merciful goodness toward the one who was unfair builds and gives you a sense of hope and well-being. These feelings can be strong motivators to continue to forgive.

Do you have some sense of what forgiveness feels like? Please write again if you need more clarification.

Do You Want to Become a Forgiving Person?

R.E.

“I hope you are beginning to see that forgiveness is not only something you do, nor is it just a feeling or a thought inside you. It pervades your very being. Forgiveness, in other words, might become a part of your identity, a part of who you are as a person. Try this thought on for size to see if it fits: I am a forgiving person. Did that hurt or feel strange? Try it again. Of course, to say something like this and then to live your life this way will take plenty of practice. Part of that practice is to get to know the entire process of forgiveness” Excerpt from the book, The Forgiving Life, page 79.

Rodney King Forgives Officers Who Beat Him

NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM –??Rodney King, who became a symbol for civil rights and police brutality in 1991, was found dead at the bottom of a swimming pool in Rialto, California on Sunday.

King was 25 years old and on parole from a robbery conviction when he was stopped by police for speeding on March 3, 1991. According to the Detroit Free Press, four Los Angeles police officers hit him more than 50 times with batons, kicked him and shot him with stun guns.

King suffered a broken eye socket, numerous skull fractures, and facial nerve damage in the beating. Meanwhile, a man videotaped most of the incident and gave a copy to a TV station.

Before his death, King said he had forgiven the officers involved in his beating.

“Yes, I’ve forgiven them, because I’ve been forgiven many times,” he said last year, 20 years after the beating. “I have to be able to forgive — for the future, for the younger generation coming behind me, so… they can understand it and if a situation like that happened again, they could deal with it a lot easier.”

After the Rodney King beating, a??three-month trial took place in predominantly white Simi Valley, and three of the officers were acquitted of all charges. There were no black members on the jury. A year later, two of the officers were found guilty of civil rights charges.

As a result of the 1991 verdict, Los Angeles faced a series of fiery riots over three days that??killed 55 people and injured more than 2,000. During the third day of riots, King said: “People, I just want to say, can we all get along? Can we get along?”

Read the full story.