Archive for August, 2012
I have an anger problem. I can go on and on when someone frustrates me. I have tried forgiving but it does not seem to be helping my anger issue. Any suggestions?
Think of anger as multi-layered. Suppose, as an example, that you have five layers of anger: 1) you are angry with your mother for shaming you many times when you were a child; 2) you are angry at the one who bullied you in middle school; 3) you are angry at something your boss did last week; 4) you are angry with your partner today for being insensitive; and 5) you are angry with your child today for showing disrespect.
Now, suppose you forgive your child for the disrespect, but you are still angry with your partner. This issue with the partner could spill over into your relationship with your child so that you “go on and on” with your already-forgiven child. The reason for your continued anger may center in your unforgiveness toward your partner.
At the very heart of the matter might be this: You still harbor resentment toward your mother for injustices that happened years ago. So, to benefit (with anger reduction), you may have to take an inventory of all who still need your forgiveness. Start with the smaller issues and work up to the big ones. Forgive each person for their injustices. Wipe the resentment slate clean. This should greatly reduce your anger. This approach is considered in a deliberate and systematic way in my new book,??The Forgiving Life, available in our Store.
Bullying has become a national epidemic in the United States. One website claims that 50% of students will be bullied at one time or another in school.
UNICEF has included bullying as a worldwide problem which needs protective solutions for children (see page 17 in particular).
We surely must take precautions such as: letting students know that they must not tolerate bullying, report such incidences, and take necessary precautions to stay safe.
There are many websites dealing with this growing problem. For example, “Kidscape” encourages parents to confront their own child’s behavior if he or she is showing a pattern of bullying. The parent is to acknowledge the actions as inappropriate and then to reward instances of positive behavior.
Bullying UK also offers advice to parents and schools such as: set clear discipline standards, be sure that all students and staff know that bullying is unacceptable, and punish appropriately when necessary. All of the advice is sound and worthy of attention.
We would like to suggest that a key element not being addressed is this: How can we eliminate the fury within those who show bullying behavior? The answers are rare on-line. We strongly suggest that programs which center on bullying behavior take one step away from the actual behavior and treat the rage.
How might this happen? First, a trained professional should sit down with the student showing the bullying behavior and ask: What in your life has made you angry, very angry?
Listen carefully to the story for it might surprise you. In all likelihood, this student has been bullied by others at some time in his or her life. He or she is now displacing that pent-up rage onto unsuspecting victims.
Acknowledge that he or she has been treated unfairly. This might seem ironic because it is this student who treats others unfairly. Yet, in all likelihood this is stemming from being treated unfairly in the past.
Be slow, deliberate, and repetitive in the following exercises: Help the student to see that others and the self have inherent worth. This is likely to take time because the student who bullies does not see such worth in others whom he or she abuses. The student in all likelihood has low self-esteem, from past unfair treatment, and so may not see the self as worthy of much at all. The forgiveness curriculum guides offer many opportunities to examine this important feature of inherent worth.
Regarding this theme of teaching inherent worth, start with story characters. Show the student how some story characters are treated unfairly and then begin to see the inherent worth in those who have been unjust to that story character. Then turn to the student’s own experiences of some less-serious offenses against him or her. Again, acknowledge the unfair treatment and ask: Does the person who hurt you have inherent worth? Work up to the bigger issues of injustice in the student’s life, after he or she gets used to thinking in this way: All people have inherent worth.
Finally, try some legal pardon or mercy in school with one who bullies. In other words, if there is a deserved punishment awaiting the student for inappropriate behavior, reduce the punishment or eliminate it altogether. Make sure the student understands that you and the school just had mercy on him/her. The student’s task is now to go and do likewise: to have mercy on those whom he/she has abused in the past.
It is time to place forgiveness at the heart of the school’s bullying problems.
I’ve recently completed a memoir, Riding the Cyclone, the strange story of my chaotic, violent upbringing. As I began it, when the old faces began reappearing in my mind’s eye and the old conversations replaying in my head, I was surprised to discover how many people I wanted to thank. Or apologize to. In the pause between drafts, it dawned one me: hey, we have Google and Facebook now, I could probably find some of these people. I could still say thanks. Or even: I’m sorry, please forgive me. Now that was a scary thought. Took some getting used to. A few weeks, at least.
My first searches led to blind alleys; well, it had been forty years, after all. Then came the dreadful week in which I learned of first one death, then a second. Two thank-yous to swallow, one after the other, that slowed me way down. So it was a while before I had to face my first apology. The big apology. The one I dreaded. The day came, though, when I found myself staring at the home page of my old high school roommate, the one I blew up at. I’d raged at her with such volcanic fury that she’d fled the room in tears and wouldn’t return until I was gone. Then she moved her bed downstairs, where it barely fit. Dinah’s an artist now. She lives in a city on the east coast. Her website includes a Contact Me form. I clicked the button and began typing: “Greetings from your former high school roommate. [I felt sure that further elaboration was unnecessary. I knew she hadn’t forgotten. You don’t forget something like that.] I’m writing to say how very, very sorry I am for the way I exploded at you. I’ve regretted it for years, almost since the moment it happened. I hope you can forgive me. For what it’s worth, I never did anything like that again.” Her reply came soon. “I forgave you years ago. How are you?” We began corresponding. Finding a great deal to say to each other, we Skyped a few times. Eventually we got around to rehashing the incident that had triggered my outburst. “Wait a minute, you mean when you told the teacher I was doing drugs, you only meant pot? I didn’t even know about the LSD!” Together, we burst into laughter. Okay, I was no choir girl in high school; I was, admittedly, a mess. But to be able to laugh now at the whole thing as a colossal misunderstanding–how good that felt! I missed forty years of Dinah’s friendship, and for that, I’m truly sorry. But I have it now, and that feels wonderful.
I missed over forty years of Elly’s friendship, and it looks like I’m going to keep missing it. Elly is another person due an apology, for an older hurt. A deeper one. It didn’t take long to discover that the black girl (Negro, as we said in ’66) who was my friend in 8th grade, the girl I’d invited over to my house one Saturday and then, at the last minute, disinvited, was now a college professor. No surprise, she always was smart; it was one of the things I’d liked her for. I had her email address for months before I managed to use it. I rewrote that mail about fifty times. The message I finally sent was short and, despite the promise of the first line, didn’t explain much: “Greetings, and a very belated apology and explanation from your former friend and classmate. But the truth is so melodramatic. Over the top.The monster was there. If you’d come, you would’ve been hurt even worse. The woman my father paid to take care of me was a violent psychotic. But she wasn’t supposed to be there that afternoon. I’d been counting on her absence when I invited my friend over. Maybe I shouldn’t have invited her; it was too risky. But I was so lonely. It was so good, for once, to have a friend. And the crazy woman wasn’t supposed to be there. But she was, so my friend couldn’t come. She would’ve screamed at her, and who knows what? She was ignorant, hostile, without social inhibitions. Big and strong, too; when I told her I’d invited a black kid over, she beat the crap out of me. Then my father demanded that I call and cancel. Maybe this is what I should’ve said, right off: I know I hurt you. I’m sorry; I’m still sorry. I have an awful feeling I hurt you in an already-open wound, and for that, I am especially sorry. But it was to spare you something worse.” But how can you send someone a message like that, out of the blue, after 46 years? The dry, sane email I sent her said much less. Later, I printed a letter that said a bit more, and sent it along with a copy of the book. Which, after all, tells the whole story.
That was months ago. I’ve had no reply. I don’t expect one. So be it. Can’t help thinking, though, what a shame it is. A loss, all around. My life would’ve been more interesting with a friend like Elly, certainly. Wouldn’t her life, too, be better without this hurt? And that woman my father hired, the one shouting nasty racial epithets and pummeling me to the floor, what was her problem? I’ll never know for sure. But I do know that when the Nazis occupied her home town of Kristiansand, Norway for five years, she was a teenager. Memories of hunger tormented her. The rest we can only imagine. Think World War II is past and gone? No, it lives on in a billion places, such as the heart and mind of a college professor born eight years after it ended. All the hurt and harm we do to each other does not vanish on its own. There’s only one way to erase it. For the whole story, see www.ridingthecyclone.com.
Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah – Chris Williams made a decision as he stared out the shattered windshield of his overturned car, fully and painfully aware that his wife, their unborn son, 11-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter were dead. He decided to forgive the driver who caused the wreck.
On Feb. 9, 2007, the Williams family was on their way home from a night out when 17-year-old Cameron White, driving from the other direction, slammed into the side of their car. It happened too fast for Chris Williams, who was driving, to get out of the way.
White would later plead guilty to four counts of second-degree felony automobile homicide (charges of driving under the influence of alcohol and leaving the scene of an injury accident were dropped). But before Williams even knew the teen’s name or the circumstances, he knew he had to let it (the act) go.
At the time of the accident in 2007, Williams did not realize the impact his decision would have on the community. In the years since, his story has become a sermon on healing and forgiveness. Williams has endeavored to help members of his ward and state congregations, family members, and even people he didn’t know to heal from this and other personal tragedies. He’s given talks, was featured in a Mormon Messages video and has now written a book, Let It Go: A True Story of Tragedy and Forgiveness.
ZeeNews.com – Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, have discovered that people who let go of their anger and forgive were less likely to see spikes in blood pressure. That’s good news, the researchers say, because longer periods of high blood pressure or hypertension increase the risk of heart attack or stroke.
The study, published in the Journal of Biobehavioural Medicines, found that forgiveness could “lower reactivity” to stressful events and even offer “sustained protection” from the physical impact.
The study asked over 200 volunteers to think about a time when a friend had offended them. Half of the group were told to think about how it had angered them while the other half were encouraged to consider it in a more forgiving way.
The participants were then all distracted for five minutes after which they were told to think about the event again in any way they chose.
The participants were wired up to monitors, which took blood pressure and heart rate readings. The team, led by Dr. Britta Larsen, found the angry group saw the greatest increase in blood pressure compared to the forgiving group after the first ruminating session.