Tag Archive | forgiveness

This Ain’t Your Mama’s Idea of Forgiveness — Part III: How to Forgive

Let’s talk about how to forgive! In this video, I give you a few specific processes for how to work your forgiveness need, covering the steps from previous videos in this series: Acceptance, Compassion, Release.

You can find the Seven Steps for Moving through Difficulties worksheet that I discuss in the video, as well as that for the Seven Steps for Successful Life Transitions, on this page.

My websites for my spiritual mentor, Jane Elizabeth Hart :
Center for Enlightenment
Soul Evolutionist

Other Seven Steps resources:
Web radio podcasts

Free downloads:
Seven Steps workshops, CD/mp3
Spiritual Power Tools – Support for Your Soul (pdf, ebook) (Contains detailed explanation of each step in the Seven Step process.)

Please share your questions and reflections on forgiveness from your own experience. It’s an important topic!

Thanks for watching!

 

This Ain’t Your Mama’s Idea of Forgiveness — Part II: Redefining Forgiveness

In my previous video post, we took a thorough look at what forgiveness is not; this time we are going to look at what forgiveness is, in a way that is healthy and palatable.

Forgiveness is the process of Acceptance, Compassion, and Release.

The first part of forgiveness is the acceptance that something has happened. If someone has hurt me, for example, I can’t do anything about that fact; it is what it is. I don’t have to like it, approve of it, or try to get anyone else to see or understand it.

When we’re dealing with the facts of what has happened, we are willing to be honest about those facts overall, not just the facts about what the other person did, or what the circumstances threw at us. Maybe I lashed out when I was hurt by another person, maybe I withdrew for a while, maybe I stood up for myself in the moment, maybe I was the one who screwed up first. All these are part of the facts that we accept.

Why is acceptance important? If we deny the facts of a situation, we’re not fully able to deal with our responses or the other person’s behavior, or process the forgiveness need. We know what really happened, even if our thoughts—or those of people around us–try to turn it into something else.

For example, if someone was sexually abused, but their family members are giving an alternative reality to that situation, it becomes difficult for the victim of that abuse to make peace with their own internal experience and reaction, which affects the healing process–which in turn has lasting side effects. When our experience is denied, by others or ourselves, we don’t have the clarity necessary to deal with the otherwise heal-able trauma around the event.

We must give ourselves permission to acknowledge facts. That goes back to what forgiveness is not, right? It is not denying ourselves the truth of what happened, or pretending nothing happened. Working with the facts helps us through our own emotional responses more efficiently.

Forgiveness is acknowledging the facts of your experience.

The second part of forgiveness is compassion, being able to look at the whole situation beyond our own emotional experience of it. This is where we put ourselves in the other person’s shoes to try to see what they might have been intending or going through in that moment. We also try to see where we were coming from in the moment. We look above the facts in this step, to try to see the hurtful experience within the context of the time it happened, as honestly as possible.

In this part of the forgiveness process that we can learn what we need to about ourselves, about the other person. We see what we need to about our part in the situation, and what the event triggered in us. We see what we need to about the other person, and learn how to adjust ourselves given the new information we have gathered. (See my video post on Discernment versus Judgment for how to see behavior for what it is without getting all judgy about it.)

I’m not saying this is easy! Often it’s harder to have compassion for ourselves than it is to generate it for others. And sometimes we don’t want to have compassion for the other person; we want to hold on to the anger and resentment. But that’s why forgiveness is a process, right? We work at it until we are ready to rise above our emotional response. We don’t forget what happened, remember? We simply work with forgiveness process so that we can come to this point of compassion, and the next step, release.

Forgiveness is working toward compassion for the other person and yourself.

The third part of forgiveness is release. This is the point at which we are willing to release the emotional pain created by the hurtful experience. That pain is going to come up over and over and over again until we release it, so this is a vital step! We won’t forget to do our work, because life will remind us that our work isn’t done by those little triggers from the past. They poke at the emotional pain like when you poke a bruise on your arm and it hurts a little. That means the bruise hasn’t healed, right? Our emotional body is the same way. It will keep feeling sore until it is healed. But unlike our physical body that heals itself, we have to put conscious effort into the healing of our emotional pain.

When we have done the work of the first two steps, Acceptance and Compassion, the Release step is the action step of being aware when the emotional bruise gets poked at, or triggered, and reminding ourselves, “Oh yes, there it is. I am letting this go now.” And we pull ourselves back to a peaceful state of mind, not indulging in the pain or the story. This is the step where we choose Acceptance and Compassion as our reality moving forward, instead of holding onto resentment and emotional pain as our reality.

Release is the step where we choose acceptance and compassion as our reality instead of resentment and emotional pain.

And that is what forgiveness is.

In my next video, I’m going to talk with you about how to forgive. I have a couple tried and true processes to share with you to help you with your forgiveness work, so stay tuned, and thanks for watching!

This Ain’t Your Mama’s Idea of Forgiveness – Part 1: What Forgiveness Is NOT

Hi, Lynn Barrette here, licensed clinical therapist and spiritual counselor.

I want to talk with you today about forgiveness. Forgiveness can be a heavy topic sometimes, so this is going to be a several part series to help us break down this concept and make it palatable and accessible, because if we can’t forgive, we get stuck, and we don’t want to do that, right? So we’re going to take some time on this one.

Anytime I bring up forgiveness with clients or in workshops or classes, I always like to clarify what forgiveness means because there are so many ideas and misconceptions about what forgiveness is.

When I help someone define forgiveness, I start with what forgiveness is not. And that is what this video is about: What forgiveness is not.

First of all, forgiveness does not mean “forgive and forget”. Our brains aren’t made up to forget things unless we get a severe head injury or some other brain trauma, like a stroke. We are simply not biologically wired to forget things. We have beautiful memories, and whether you are more spiritually-minded or more scientific, we are created like this for a reason: those memories are there to ensure that we learn from our experiences and evolve as a species and in consciousness. So how can we be expected to forgive and forget when we’re not wired to do so?

Forgiveness does NOT mean “forgive and forget!” It means that we learn and grow.

Another misconception that comes up is that forgiveness means everyone gets a fresh start, even the person who did wrong, and we pretend like nothing happened. That’s not it either. If we are learning from our experiences, we take our new understanding with us every moment, and apply that new understanding moving forward. If someone hurts me, I have learned something: Sometimes this person is hurtful, and she certainly has been hurtful to me in this situation, so I need to adjust my mental, emotional, and sometimes physical behavior so that I can either deal with being around her, or make sure I am not around her anymore!

Forgiveness does not mean to pretend like nothing happened. It means adjust your internal and external behavior to support yourself, your safety.

A final myth I often hear about forgiveness is that if we forgive, we’ll be letting the other person get by with something. That’s not it either. Once we have taken care of our part of an interaction with someone—either by confronting them, adjusting ourselves internally and externally, or staying the heck away from them—our part is done.

There is a law that is scientific both in our physical and spiritual realm that states that whatever energy we put out comes back to us. And that is true at the physical, emotional, and mental levels of our existence. This doesn’t mean we turn that into some kind of superstitious curse on another person, as we often hear that “Karma will get them”! If we are saying that about someone, our forgiveness is not done! When we forgive, we are releasing ourselves from having to be a part of this person learning what they need to be learning. We don’t have to be responsible for seeing that “they get theirs”; we are only responsible for our own behavior, and what we are putting out at those physical, mental, and emotional levels. That’s a big job in itself, isn’t it?!

Forgiveness doesn’t mean that anyone gets by with anything; but it does mean we don’t have to worry about it.

So if all that is what forgiveness is NOT; what is forgiveness? That will be in my next video for you, so hold tight, it’s coming!

Thanks for watching!

Lynn Barrette, LCSW

http://www.dynamiccounseling.info

https://lynnbarrette.wordpress.com/

https://www.facebook.com/dynamiccounseling/

The Secret to Smooth Holidays

img_5340The holiday season is upon us, and for all the joy the holiday brings, for some of us it is the time when we gather with people we probably shouldn’t be around. Alas, blood is sometimes thicker than one’s mental health.

Most likely, you know your family members pretty well. You know who is going to get drunk and embarrassing, who will get nasty, who will be emotional and demanding, and who will be enjoyable to be around. Chances are, they haven’t changed all that much since last year!

So, why not proactively enter the holidays with an attitude of forgiveness and resiliency?  We are here to evolve into more conscious, responsible individuals. Often, mental health issues arise when we resist what is happening around us and our equilibrium gets out of whack. It is restored as we embrace and adjust to life situations, knowing when to be accepting of others’ less-evolved personalities, and when to get the heck out of their way. A difficult discipline, and a soul-strengthening one!

Having a new experience of the holiday season requires us to examine past decisions and expectations, learn from them, and move on. Uncle Delbert the Drunk will not likely have changed, unless he has successfully gone through treatment. Bringing our old ways of thinking into a situation where we want change can lead to depression: Not clearing the air of our own inefficient and undesirable beliefs and patterns, but expecting new results!

A powerful forgiveness and resilience tool is Jane Elizabeth Hart’s Seven Steps for Successful Life Transitions. Jane Elizabeth created this method for releasing old patterns, beliefs and other life situations, based on her personal experiences of change, loss and spiritual growth. Each of the Seven Steps deals with an aspect of the situation at hand.  For holidays, she suggests working with the family system as a whole (rather than each person individually) through each step. Journaling is suggested, tissues should be on hand, and laughter at some point is a must. (http://www.cfenlightenment.org.)

Step one is ‘Gratitude and Acceptance’ and deals with all that we are grateful for in regards to our family gatherings and members thereof.  Write down all the aspects of these events that you are grateful for.  What joy have these situations brought to you?  Don’t worry if you can’t think of anything; simply return to it when you can.

Step two looks at the ‘Good Times.’  Think of specific situations in the past that have been enjoyable for you at these family gatherings.  There might be something that keeps bringing you back for more.  Again, skip it if you need to.

Step three allows us to look at our ‘Hopes and Dreams.’  What do you hope will happen?  What have you dreamt that these gatherings would be like?  Who do you hope you don’t have to see when you’re there?  Who do you hope will behave differently?  Who have you wanted to get to know, but never have approached?  Get those thoughts from swimming around in your head, creating unnecessary stress!   It doesn’t mean that these hopes and wishes will necessarily come true; this is to help you let them go.

Step four deals with those ‘Disappointments and Difficulties.’  Ah, yes, the confrontations, the embarrassments, the arguments, the losses—everything.  Can you see why you have dreaded these events?  Can you see any unresolved issues within yourself that are surfacing to be healed?

The most important step is the fifth step:  ‘Forgiveness.’  This is how we heal.  Who or what circumstance is the hardest to forgive?  Why?  What does it mean for you if you don’t forgive?  What does it mean for you if you do?  If we can find it in ourselves to forgive obnoxious behavior, we can handle it much better when it greets us with a wet kiss.  We are not condoning unacceptable behavior—dealing with that is a whole other article—I’m talking about the annoying and the petty.  Forgiveness requires a certain leap of faith—whatever ours may be—into a space of allowing another to be what they choose to be without it throwing us off-center.  Forgiveness pulls us out of the mindset that someone can ruin our day by not meeting our expectations, and puts us into a space of compassion and non-resistance toward less-conscious behavior in others (and ourselves!).  It’s tough, but if we are willing, it could just save our holiday.

Finally, we ‘Release’ all these in the sixth step, and affirm our ‘Completion’ with the process in step seven.  I like having a ritual for my completion process, sometimes burning my journaling notes, or using Hart’s Seven Step meditation.

The most important relationship is the one we have with ourselves; and when we are okay with ourselves, we can be open to better possibilities.  If you get stuck on a situation that has happened in your family, be sure to seek professional help.

No matter what has happened in the past, every new year—every day!—opens new doors for us. Our job is to prepare our minds and hearts for those opportunities to come forth, not so Delbert the Drunk will change, but so we can.

Happy holidays!

Don’t Worry, the Universe Will Remind You that Your Work Isn’t Done

tumblr_nrtexbzjua1snt055o1_400Sometimes it takes a lot to push through resentment to find the gratitude.

I knew someone who had purchased a condo to help a friend in need–a place for the friend to stay while she was trying to get back on her feet. All things were going well until the friend lost her job and stopped paying rent. Then one day, she disappeared to another state without explanation.

How betrayed he felt! How could she do that? She left him with thousands of dollars in mortgage each month, plus his own home’s mortgage! No word, no apology, no help!

For several years, he tried to sell the condo. Sale after sale fell through for this reason or that. Every failed attempt to rid himself of the condo was one more reminder of the betrayal of his so-called friend, a reminder of how angry he felt at himself for trusting her, a reminder to forgive again.

One New Year’s Eve at a Burning Bowl Ceremony, he wrote a letter to himself stating that for the new year, the condo would be sold! The letter was mailed to him eleven months later, and eleven months later the condo still hadn’t been sold.

He had been sharing this story with me over time via email, and I could now hear the disappointment in his words. He had worked faithfully with the Seven Steps for Moving through Difficulties, a forgiveness process I had shared with him toward the beginning of this difficult, healing journey, and would return to it each time a condo sale would fall through.

When he shared with me about his letter for the year, and his yet unmet commitment to continue to forgive, I could suddenly see the message loud and strong, and I replied:

“You have worked hard this year to continue to free yourself from that condo, through all the sales that fell through, plus the forgiveness work that you have been persistent in affirming. Perhaps the condo is still part of your life, but you have freed your heart so much this year–and your free heart is something you get to take into the new year! Congratulations!

“Sometimes we forget that the Universe uses our human circumstances to do a job that we might not have done otherwise. If the condo hadn’t been a reminder of your friend’s betrayal all this time, how would you have paid attention to that forgiveness need? It might have been buried in your heart like a needle in a haystack–only to poke you when you least expected it!

“No wonder it’s so important to look for the good in all things! It is always there. You have done a great job on fulfilling what you wrote in your letter last year! Now you’re just waiting for the sale to go through. Give thanks for all things–mysterious and obvious alike!”

As is true so often in my work, I can’t give encouragement without seeing how it applies in my own life. As I composed my email, I could see the many people and circumstances that have been so challenging in my own life this past year (and some for several years!). I could see how I hoped a struggle would be over, only to have it rear its ugly head over and over and over again. I could see my persistence, but also how it looked so disappointing because things didn’t change according to my ideas or timing.

Yet I could also see how the struggle is what strengthened me, slowly but surely! It loosened my grip on my desired results. It reminded me of the inner work left to do. It reminded me to forgive what needs to be forgiven, and that I wasn’t finished quite yet.

Outer results are easy to see, easy to be grateful for. But to see that there’s something bigger going on? That takes looking beyond results.

What in your life continues to show up and remind you to do your inner work?

 

Join us for our series of workshops to transition into the new year!

 

Scratching the Surface of Your Spiritual Growth – Part 3 / Finale

Continuing from my previous post in this three-part series on Scratching the Surface of Spiritual Growth…

sevenstepsebookA powerful forgiveness and resilience tool is Jane Elizabeth Hart’s Seven Steps for Successful Life Transitions. Hart created this method for releasing old patterns, beliefs and other life situations, based on her personal experiences of change, loss and spiritual growth. Each of theSeven Steps deals with an aspect of the situation at hand.  Journaling your responses to each step’s list of questions is suggested, tissues should be on hand, and laughter at some point is a must. (You can access the journaling questions at church or on the Center for Enlightenment website, www.cfenlightenment.org.)

Step one is ‘Gratitude and Acceptance’ and deals with all that you are grateful for in regards to the situation or person at hand.  Write down everything you can think of for which you are grateful.  What joy have these situations brought to you? Sometimes all I can come up with is, “I am grateful for the opportunity to release this [person or situation].”  Don’t worry if you can’t think of anything; simply return to it when you can. 

Step two looks at the ‘Good Times.’  Think of specific situations in the past that have been enjoyable for you regarding this person or situation.  There might be something that keeps bringing you back for more.  Again, skip it if you need to.  

Step three allows you to look at your ‘Hopes and Dreams.’  What do you, or did you, hope will happen?  What have you dreamt that this person or situation would be like?  Get those thoughts from swimming around in your head, creating unnecessary stress! It doesn’t mean that these hopes and wishes will necessarily come true; this is to help you let them go.

Step four deals with those ‘Disappointments and Difficulties.’  Ah, yes, the confrontations, the embarrassments, the arguments, the losses—everything.  What has disappointed you regarding this person or situation? What has been the most difficult thing to deal with? Can you see any unresolved issues within yourself that are surfacing to be healed?

The most important step is the fifth step:  ‘Forgiveness.’  This is how we heal.  Who or what circumstance is the hardest to forgive?  Why?  What does it mean for you if you don’t forgive?  What does it mean for you if you do?  When you can find it in yourself to forgive, you can handle future similar situations or people much better.  Remember, you are not condoning unacceptable behavior through forgiveness; simply accepting that it has happened, and now you have new information with which to make decisions moving forward.

Forgiveness requires a certain leap of faith—whatever yours may be—into a space of allowing another to be what they choose to be without it throwing you off-center.  Forgiveness pulls you out of the mindset that someone can ruin your day by not meeting your expectations; and puts you into a space of compassion and non-resistance toward outrageous behavior in others (and yourself!).  It’s tough, but as you are willing, you add to your inner management abilities.

Finally, ‘Release’ all these in the sixth step, and affirm your ‘Completion’ with the process in step seven.  I like having a ritual for my completion process, sometimes burning my journaling notes, or using Hart’s Seven Step meditation. 

The most important relationship is the one you have with yourself; and when you are okay with yourself, you can be open to better possibilities.  If you get stuck on a situation, be sure to seek further help.  

No matter what has happened in the past, every day opens new doors for you. Your job is to prepare your mind and heart for those opportunities to come forth, not so someone or something will change, but so you can.

Self Forgiveness – How Do We Do It?

Many people around the world are observing Lent, the 40 days leading up to the Easter experience. Regardless of our religious affiliation, this is a time of year loaded with possibility and new beginnings. What could you do (or not do) for 40 days that would support the positive changes you want to make within yourself, to support your spiritual awakening? Here are a few thoughts on Lent…

Breathe. Reflect. Release. Renew.

Now that we are in full swing of the Lenten season, what have you released for this time?  Are you spending your energy staying away from chocolate or sugar?  Or have you decided to release something that will make even more of a difference to your Soul?  Even if you have no investment in the traditional Lenten season, how about ditching guilt and resentment towards yourself for a while?

It is so much easier to forgive other people, isn’t it?  I mean, we don’t have to live with those people (not the easy ones to forgive, anyway), so why should we hold a grudge against them?  But our own selves?  We have to see our own thinking and behavior every single day!  That starts building up after a while.  And if we find out we have been wrong?  Watch out!  We pull that guilt hammer out and start hitting ourselves with it so quickly!

How do we release these regrets and resentments directed at ourselves?

First of all, find out what you need to forgive about yourself.  Acknowledge it, understand it, label it.  This helps us have something more concrete to release rather than it being an abstract, generalized ideal.  For example, seeing times when I have been impatient with others over time is much easier to forgive than trying to forgive myself for being a “bad person”  over all.  “Bad person” doesn’t teach me anything, nor does it give me new choices for my behavior.  Impatience, on the other hand, I can grasp, and it has the alternative of being patient.

Secondly, speaking of patience, be patient as you transition from the old behavior that you are releasing to the new behavior.  You might have heard the saying, “A habit wasn’t created over night,” meaning that it won’t be changed overnight either.  You have acknowledged, understood and labeled your behavior, now let yourself practice the new behavior, with a gentle and wide learning curve.

Finally, during this transition, add energy to the positive choices you make, and quickly pass by the times you fall into the old behaviors.  Yes, see that you missed your desired mark, but move on quickly!  Don’t let that old hammer have time to resume its flagellating!  Take time to feel  gratitude toward yourself for your new behavior.

Forgiveness is not just about stating that we are suddenly just peachy about ourselves.  It is about making changes, with compassion, and moving into a new way of being with ourselves.  Enjoy your chocolate–give up the guilt!