In a book I read for class, Consciousness and Healing, a chapter on forgiveness by Frederic Luskin made an impact on me, so I thought I would share.
Luskin has been researching the effects of forgiveness on the health of an individual at Standford University, and he has found some amazing discoveries. The first thing he learned is that forgiveness can be taught, so he brought groups of people together that had been in similar situations (unresolved interpersonal hurt, family members killed by murder, etc) and had them take workshops on forgiveness. What he found is that these subjects not only had a decrease in stress, hurt, anger and physical symptoms, but they also had a greater outlook on life and were more forgiving overall, not just towards the particular person or situation.
An interesting thing to note is when Luskin talks about forgiveness he’s not saying you have to condone the offense, forget what happened, or reconcile with the person. In fact, you can sometimes forgive someone and decide to never talk to them again. But the main thing is once you forgive you are letting go of the power the person holds over you and are able to love and trust again.
He lays out some steps for forgiveness which I found useful:
1. Know exactly how you feel about the situation. Put it in words and tell a trusted person.
2. Commit to do what you have to do to feel better. Do what you need to do, this is all about you and what you need.
3. Understand your goal.Remember you are after peace, not necessarily reconciliation or condoning. Forgiveness might be taking this experience less personally and changing your grievance story.
4. Put it into perspective, understand that your distress is coming from your hurt feelings.
5. When you feel upset, have some stress management techniques to try.
6. Don’t expect things from other people, such as happiness, love, health. You are in charge of your life.
7. Shift your thinking to positivity. Stop replaying the hurt, and shift that energy towards getting with you want.
8. Living your life well is the best revenge. Look for the beauty, love and kindness around you. By focusing on your wounded feelings the person who caused you pain still has power over you.
9. “Amend your grievance story to remind yourself of the heroic choice to forgive, and focus your converstaion on what you have learned about yourself and life.”
All of this information is from Conscious and Healing by Marilyn Schlitz et al.
I love this photo, but could not find the source