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Saturday, June 21, 2008

The secret to forgiving

I'm now into week 7 of my TSI coaching course. Initial goals I set myself at the beginning of the course have mostly been achieved, thus, when this week I was asked to once again identify problematic areas within my life, I really struggled. In the end, I had to contact one of my coaches for guidance, and it was through this experience that I came to wonder if my positive outlook on life is actually impairing my ability to identify (and address) problems. I was really struck by how difficult I find it to look at any event or situation and not focus on the good in it (I'm not talking things on the scale of war atrocities here, I'm talking the environment that I live in).

I wonder if this tendency to only see the good in others / situations will impact negatively upon my life in the long term?

There's a risk that by seeing things in this way I could alienate myself from others, or perhaps reduce my own capacity to sympathise and show love when it's needed. I think I've actually seen this happen already to a limited degree, when I have neglected to make an effort to see a situation from the point of view of a friend who is not so inclined to see things positively and subsequently come across as uncaring.

I'm thinking that I need to be careful to strike a balance between communicating my own positive take on events, and acknowledging and responding appropriately to the hurt felt by others.

Another theme in this week's course has been that of forgiveness. If I recall a situation in which I have harboured bad-feeling towards someone whom I feel wronged by, I can feel myself having that black heart. It's painful, it sucks up energy, it's stressful. But ego tells me that they have to apologise or make up for what they've done before I can let go of it, which is a load of rubbish. The thing is, the longer I hold on to blame, the longer I hurt myself. It's just silly, why make life more difficult for myself, when I can just forgive?

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” - Lewis B. Smedes


If I'm finding it difficult to forgive someone, one trick I use is to imagine them dead.

Nice huh.

No, but really, it works. "If this person were to die today would I want them to die knowing that I am harbouring these bad feelings towards them?" The chances are, if it's someone I care about (as is nearly always the case when it comes to strong feelings whether positive or negative), I won't want them to die like that. I'd want them to know that I love them, that I care for them, and that I appreciate what they have done for me.

And of course, there's no reason why they might not die today.

If that trick doesn't work, then clearly the connection between us is weak, and thus I am being a bit daft to be investing so much energy in feeling bad towards them.

Anyway, I can hear the Sheep Man calling so I'd best be off. He doesn't like to be kept waiting.

xxx

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