Archive for December, 2012

There are so many talk and reality shows on television that feed the anger monster. I guess it is supposedly entertaining to see people being deeply upset with each other. To what extent does our seeing this kind of “entertainment” affect how we view our own anger and how we express that anger to others?

You raise an important point for us all. We might be witnessing a shift in our American culture, and anywhere else where such “entertainment” is exported, in this way: heated expressions of anger might be seen now as more acceptable than in decades past. If that is the case, then perhaps our norms are shifting so that expressing and harboring intense anger is seen as more acceptable. Research shows that deep and abiding anger is not healthy for the one who has this nor for those who receive it. We need to realize that toxic/unhealthy/intense and abiding anger is not healthy and not acceptable. Forgiveness is one way of reducing and even eliminating this kind of anger.

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Charlotte S. Murphy

My mother and I have not had a close relationship. As a nurse, I understood the psychological impacts of her childhood abuse and being raised in an extremely poor area with an alcoholic father. My father had the exact same life events. They joined a very “narrow minded” christian church that taught my sisters and I that drinking was a sin, showing any type of affection in public was a sin, and on and on. When my first child was born, I recognised I was transferring those learned behaviors to my son. I went into 3 years of therapy where I worked on letting go of my resentments and anger towards my father, Then, life took over (I had 4 sports minded children and worked full time) and forgiveness took a back seat. I have always been a spiritual person and am a medium and shamanic practitioner, which is totally alien to my mother’s belief system.

At the age of 55, my life took a sudden dramatic change with the illness of my husband ,and consequently the loss of our business and income. I had a lot of time on my hands and so began my spiritual investigations and healing of myself on an intense level, not quite understanding how important forgiveness was, until an argument while at my mother’s house opened my heart. I was so angry with her that I walked outside and around her neighborhood until I calmed down. I sat on a park bench, while mentally complaining, how she never forgave her abusive relative or anyone else that hurt her. I looked up and saw huge dark storm clouds in the distance coming towards me. I did not want to be like her and suddenly “knew” that I had never forgiven her for the verbal abuse and lack of affection growing up. I’m glad no one was out in the impending storm to see me sobbing and releasing so many toxins I had held onto for so many years.

I cannot help my mother, but I can heal myself, by continuing to forgive those that have “caused” me to feel pain. It’s definitely an ongoing process!

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The Family as Forgiving Community

The central points of the Family as Forgiving Community are these:

1. We are interested in the growth of appreciation and practice in the forgiveness virtue not only within each individual but also within the family unit itself.

2. For family members to grow in the appreciation and practice of forgiveness, that virtue must be established as a positive norm in the family unit. This necessitates that the parents value the virtue, talk positively about it, and demonstrate it through forgiving and asking for forgiveness on a regular basis within the family.

3. For each member of the family unit to grow in the appreciation and practice of forgiveness, that virtue must be taught in the home, with materials that are age-appropriate and interesting for the children and the parents.

4. Parents will need to persevere in the appreciation, practice, and education of forgiveness if the children are to develop the strength of passing the virtue of forgiveness onto their own families when they are adults.

To achieve these goals, one strategy is the Family Forgiveness Gathering, which we will describe next time.

Dr. Bob

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Father Begs for Mercy for Son’s Killer

The Morning Call, Allentown, PA – The father shook uncontrollably in court Friday, distraught over his son’s death in a car accident a year ago. That happens often.

Then the father begged a judge for mercy for his son’s killer. That’s rare.

“Some people deserve to be caged up and some people deserve a second chance,” Greg Hamell told a Lehigh County Judge. “Allow a little bit of forgiveness for this young man here. Give the family a second chance, I ask your honor.”

Authorities say Alexander Buskirk was driving 63 mph in a 35 mph zone on Nov. 23, 2011, when he lost control and crashed into trees, killing Greg Hamell’s 18-year-old son, Ryan. Buskirk and Hamell had graduated together months earlier from Northwestern Lehigh High School.

Ryan Hamell’s mother, Jeanette Hamell, asked the judge to sentence Buskirk to house arrest, and not jail.

“I want Alex to know I forgive him,” the mother said, as people throughout the courtroom cried. “I want him to forgive himself. I want him to live a full life.”

At the end of the hearing, Buskirk walked up to Greg Hamell and the two hugged for several moments, exchanging words. Buskirk then hugged Jeanette Hamell. Both cried before separating and leaving the courthouse. One soon headed to jail. Both hoping to heal.

Read the full story: Father begs for mercy for son’s killer.”

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I have a couple of friends who are so caught up in their “rights” that they forgive too much. It annoys me. A waiter is too slow with the food, they think their “rights” are being usurped and they forgive. Their husbands are tired and not so attentive one evening. They think their “rights” are being usurped and they forgive. I think all of this “rights” business and forgiveness is phony. In this case, forgiveness is not helping them at all. Instead it is serving to keep them stuck on themselves. What do you think? Might forgiveness under this circumstance be harmful?

You raise a number of issues worthy of consideration. I will make three points that might be helpful.

1. Genuine forgiveness, even when practiced frequently and for small issues, is legitimate because forgiveness is centered on the good. To forgive is the practice of goodness and everyone should be free to decide when and if they will forgive. So, this really is the choice of your friends.

2. You seem to be concerned with what we call false forgiveness. In this case, false forgiveness takes the form of dominance or power over others. If a person wants such power, he or she can feign hurt, openly forgive the other person, and continually remind him or her of the need to be forgiven. This is not helpful to anyone because it is not a true form of forgiveness and, depending on the situation, might incorporate control over others.

3. Practicing genuine forgiveness for the little things of life can increase practice of this difficult-to-master virtue. Thus, forgiving for the little things can be growth producing. Please see our Adult Forum discussion of these “little things” and forgiveness in our Forum section.

Now, it seems to me that your frustration regards point 2 above, the false form of forgiveness. A psychiatrist, Dr. Hunter, in an early article on the psychology of forgiveness published in 1978, made the point that most of us can identify the false form of forgiveness because there is a “smug” quality to the “forgiver.” I am suspecting that you see that in your friends. If so, you can help them by pointing out the three issues above and gently discussing the fine points of each, without accusation or judgment. Include yourself in the discussion so that this is not a blaming session, but instead an educational opportunity.

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