Archive for February, 2015
First, when you forgive yourself, you are both the offended one and the offender. And we rarely offend ourselves in isolation. Thus, you should go and make amends with those who also were offended by your actions. This includes asking for forgiveness, changing your behavior and making recompense where this is reasonable.
After that, as you turn your attention to forgiving yourself please keep this in mind—What you have been offering to others in forgiving them (gentleness, kindness, patience, respect, and moral love), you can and should offer to yourself.
1) You have a goal of helping the one who hurt you to grow in character. By your love, you can now gently ask something of him or her. What will you ask of him or her, after you have forgiven (so that you can approach this person in love)?
2) You have a goal of trying as best you can to reconcile with the person who hurt you. Is he or she remorseful (with an inner sorrow) and repentant (as he or she expresses this)? Even if the answer is “no,” if he or she is not harmful to you, you can remain in his or her presence with the hope that your love will help the person grow in insight so that he or she changes for the better.
Has the struggle with the injustice made you tired? Let us say that you have 10 points of energy to get through each day. How many of those points of energy do you use fighting (even subconsciously) the injustice as an internal struggle? Even if you are giving 1 or 2 points of your energy each day to this, it is too much and could be considered another wound for you.
When you consider the person and the situation now under consideration, do you see any changes in your life that were either a direct or indirect consequence of the person’s injustice? In what way did your life change that led to greater struggle for you? On our 0-to-10 scale, how great a change was there in your life as a result of the injustice? Let a 0 stand for no change whatsoever, a 5 stand for moderate change in your life, and a 10 stand for dramatic change in your life. Your answer will help you determine whether this is another wound for you. As you can see, the wounds from the original injustice have a way of accumulating and adding to your suffering.
In work phase, “the injured individual may strive to understand the injurer’s childhood or put the injurious event in context by understanding the pressures the injurer was under at the time of the offense.” What if this is not possible, since the offended knows very little about the offender who’s not repenting and not responding? Would it be a helpful thing if the offended can only imagine but never know the real reason he/she was offended?
Besides what we call the “personal perspective” (in which the forgiver understands the emotional wounds inflicted on the offender when in childhood and perhaps at the time of the offense), our forgiveness therapy model includes the “global” and “cosmic” perspectives. So, you need not imagine what transpired for the offender in childhood or any other time if you do not know the answer. If what happened to you was very serious, you could speculate that the offender has been seriously emotionally wounded without imagining specifics. In addition, you can focus on your shared humanity in the “global” perspective (for example, you both, by virtue of being human, are special, unique, and irreplaceable). If you have a faith, you can take the “cosmic” perspective and see that both of you, for example, are made in the image and likeness of God.
Within world conflict zones, we would like to see at least two generations of students (a 24-year vision) introduced to forgiveness with an increase in the developmental challenges for the students each year. By the end of secondary school (post-primary, high school), the students should have a strong foundation in understanding the term forgiveness, know the nuances of forgiving and receiving forgiveness, and have insights into how to give back to the community. It is our hope that they might consider giving back to the community by introducing others to the concept of forgiveness and its application within friendship, family, and community groups.
Might these students, once they are adults, begin to see that all people possess inherent worth? Might it be a contradiction to one’s own identity to disparage people from “the other side” just because of where they were born, what they believe, or the color of their skin?