Archive for May, 2012
What do you dream of?
I’ve seen people do some funny things in their sleep. Recently on an overnight trip, I was awarded the amusement of seeing my friend and roommate for the night, Molly, a professional ballerina, dreaming of what she loves doing most…dancing. This was apparent by the graceful rising and falling of her leg suspended behind her in mid-air. What a lovely dream she must be having, I thought.
Are your dreams full of dancing and merriment like my friend’s?
Or, are there signs of distress and despair such as the case in Michael’s story recounted in the book, “Forgiveness is a Choice” by Robert Enright (p. 180)?
“Michael describes his sense of well-being in terms of his dreams. Following his father’s physical abuse, he had been tormented with two decades of nightmares in which he hurt others.” After forgiving his father, Michael writes, “I began very quickly to lose episodic nightmares and began to dream more happily in color.”
Could a lack of forgiveness be contributing to a lack of happiness in the dreams, thoughts, and attitudes of your unconsciousness?
Our unconscious thoughts deeply affect our outlooks, perceptions, and attitudes of every day life – our levels of stress, emotional peace, our interactions with others, and our physical health. Our dreams can be one sign pointing to an underlying discontent due to past hurts or injustices that we have chained ourselves to. An unhealthy lifestyle can be another sign as it was for Felicia. Here is the testimony she gives after forgiving her mother:
“Yes! Release and liberation, emotional and physical. An internal peace, relaxation, openness, acceptance of myself and others. A new sense of purpose and exploration. No more excessive alcohol use. Better eating and exercise patterns — lost about 20 pounds. I’m enjoying life and its challenges more. Also, seeing the beauty around me instead of ‘burying’ myself with my eyes closed!”
What are the signs of discontent in your life?
How are the chains of resentment and pain from past hurts keeping you from dancing, enjoying life, and reaching your full potential?
But more importantly, are you willing to set yourself free from those chains?
I hope so…and I hope you believe you are worth it; You deserve enough happiness and peace to be dancing in your dreams!
My boss lies to me persistently. I have, however, no definite proof. He tells me that I am paranoid and imagining things. He has sent me to the College doctor for a check-up, even though I perfectly well. The situation is complicated by the fact that do I have a psychiatric history. How does forgiveness work in this situation? My boss would say there is nothing to forgive, given that he hasn’t lied to me (lying again). Jonny
The first issue here comes down to this: Who is perceiving the reality of this situation correctly, the boss or you? Are you sure he is lying, given the context of his denial? Is there a way to confirm his lying through confirmation with a colleague? Is there any possibility that you have misunderstood something about the boss and so you are incorrect about his lying? This is the first step, to determine the truth of your observation. It is important for you to do so because of the disagreement that you and he are having. There is nothing dishonorable about your being wrong about this. If you are right, it is courageous to forgive.
Let us now suppose that you have determined as objectively as you can that the boss lies. You now have a list of times he lies, including his denial of lying. I would start with the least objectionable lie and forgive him for that. The path to forgiving is outlined for you in my new book, The Forgiving Life, especially chapter 10. After you become familiar with the forgiveness process, I recommend that you forgive him for one more specific lie. From there, you might consider forgiving him for his pattern of lying, including the most recent incident of denying that he lies.
All of this is dependent on your thinking through exactly what your boss does in the lying and how this in fact adds up to lying on a consistent basis. I would proceed with forgiving only after you are convinced that you are the one who is correct.
What would you do if you grew up with a strained relationship with parents that extended into your adult life? What would you do if, on top of that, you experienced as an adolescent the laughter of rejection from peers (which we would call bullying today)? Then, what if life added an extremely controlling and (physically, emotionally, sexually, verbally, and financially) abusive relationship with one’s common-law partner that went on for years? What if he took your two young sons and threatened to never give them back until you signed a lawyer’s contract stating that you must obey all he says or else he keeps the children and all the material goods? What if you were beaten so badly that when you called 9-1-1, you were not sure whether you were speaking English or Hungarian? What if you then waited two hours for the police to arrive and they wanted you to hang around until the one who beat you came home so that all of you could sit around and chat?
Would you have the clarity of mind, the energy, and the emotional strength to recount all of this in a book?
Meet the author whose pen name is “EMP.” The book, entitled, It Is Forgiven, is published by iUniverse. In crafting her own story so that others can find a path to freedom, she recounts the details of horrors so strong that most of us could never put them down on paper, in essence re-experiencing the abuse as the words are written and the images play in the mind all over again. The reader gets a look into EMP’s soft heart as she recounts the laughter from peers during her adolescence, a time when we were all so vulnerable and sensitive to rejection:
I learned to speak to myself positively and encouragingly: Every person is a human being, just like me. They aren’t any different, neither less nor more than me. They are people, and I am one of them. (page 17).
EMP grew up in Hungary and eventually made her way to Canada with her two sons, where she wrote the book, published in 2012. What I find most fascinating about the book is the fact that EMP never talks directly about her forgiveness journey with her common-law partner. The forgiveness is seen subtly in her prose directed toward Joseph, the common-law partner. As you read, pay attention to the tone. Never once does the author strike out in anger in any way toward him. She is shocked, deeply hurt, disgusted by his actions, but on every page he remains a person, someone who could be redeemed, someone who could change. Some skeptics would say that the author was seeing him through rose-colored glasses, but you will have to read the book to know this is not so. EMP sees a very flawed human being, someone from whom she had to work hard to attain freedom, and she did. This is not a book written by a naive, denying, give-me-more-abuse person. No, instead, this is a book written by someone who stood in hope for years, was beaten, and found hope elsewhere. And in finding that hope elsewhere, she never threw him away as a human being. That is forgiveness. It is forgiven.