Forgive for Good: A Proven Prescription for Health and Happiness By Frederic Luskin

Here are some highlights from the book HerbK called the second most important book he’s ever read after the Big Book:

* Picture the crowded screen in front of a harried air traffic controller. Picture the chaos in the room and the jumble of planes on the screen. Now imagine that your unresolved grievances are the planes on that screen that have been circling for days and weeks on end. Most of the other planes have landed, but your unresolved grievances continue to take up precious air space, draining resources that may be needed in an emergency. Having them on the screen forces you to work harder and increases the chance for accidents. The grievance planes become a source of stress and burnout is often the result.

HOW DID THE PLANES GET UP THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE?

You took something too personally.
You continued to blame the person who hurt you for how bad you felt.
You created a grievance story.

WHAT IS FORGIVENESS?

Forgiveness is the peace you learn to feel when you allow these circling planes to land.
Forgiveness is for you and not the offender.
Forgiveness is taking back your power.
Forgiveness is taking responsibility for how you feel.
Forgiveness is about your healing and not about the people who hurt you.

* I do not suggest that forgiveness means we give up our right to be angry when we have been hurt or mistreated. My forgiveness research shows that people retain their ability to be angry but simply use that ability more wisely.

* I define forgiveness as the experience of peace and understanding that can be felt in the present moment. You forgive by challenging the rigid rules you have for other people’s behavior and by focusing your attention on the good things in your life as opposed to the bad.

* One of the central messages of my forgiveness training is that only three core components underlie the creation of any long-standing hurt and grievance:

The exaggerated taking of personal offense
The blaming of the offender for how you feel
The creation of a grievance story

* In careful scientific studies, forgiveness training has been shown to reduce depression, increase hopefulness, decrease anger, improve spiritual connection, increase emotional self-confidence, and help heal relationships. Learning to forgive is good for both your mental and physical well-being and your relationships.

* Do you talk over and over about what happened to you? Do you let your mind dwell on your grievance many times during the day? Do you have friends or family who do this? Do you get tired of the amount of time that you spend thinking about things from your past? Do you get tired of listening to other people repeat their same story? If you can view your mind as your house, I can teach you to control how much space you rent to your wounds and grievances. You are the proprietor, and you set the rent. Each of us decides who our tenants are and the conditions of their lease. What kind of accommodations do we want to give our wounds and grievances? We can rent our grievances the master bedroom and build them a hot tub out back. We can give them a great lease with terrific terms that never expire, or we can grant them only a day-to-day tenancy. We can allow them to put their stuff in all the rooms of the house, or we can restrict them to a small room in the back. In other words, we need to ask: How much time do we spend thinking about our hurts and disappointments? And, When we think about them, how much intensity is there?

The answers to these questions will determine how much of a problem a wound or grievance will cause you. When you have rented too much space in your mind, then you have a grievance. When, like Mike, you have to do work you do not want and then you obsess over it, you create a grievance. Mike did not have to focus on his dislike of the work. He could have focused instead on the real possibility that he was going to make a lot of money when the company went public. Mike did not know how to deal with not getting what he wanted, and so he created out of that inability a grievance.

* Are you one of those people who seem to find their problems more compelling than their blessings? Do you, or someone you know, rent out more space to what is wrong than what is right?

* What plays on the screen of our mind is like a TV picture that we control with a remote. We can watch horror movie channels, sex channels, soap opera channels, and grievance channels as well as channels that focus on the beauties of nature and the kindness of people. Anyone can tune in to a grievance or choose to switch to the forgiveness channel. Ask yourself, What is playing on my set today? Is your remote tuning in to channels that will help you feel good? If you remember the air traffic control screen from the introduction, your grievances are the planes that will not land. They fill up your screen, they occupy your mind, and, most important, they make it harder for you to appreciate the things in your life that are wonderful. Missing the beauty in our lives is the unanticipated damage that grievances can create. We just watch one TV channel at a time and what we tune in to often can become a habit.

* the basis of any grievance is that something painful happened to you and at the time you did not have the skills to manage your emotional pain.

* “A physician is not angry at the intemperance of a mad patient, nor does he take it ill to be railed at by a man in fever. Just so should a wise man treat all mankind, as a physician does his patient, and look upon them only as sick and extravagant.” (Seneca)

* Each of us knows someone who simply does not let things bother them. Some people are able to adapt to difficulty, while others remain stuck for years.

* I want to make clear that creating a grievance is not a sign of mental illness. Being hurt is not a sign of weakness, stupidity, or lack of self-esteem. Often, it simply means we lack training in how to do things differently. Feeling hurt is a normal and difficult aspect of all of our lives, and almost everyone creates grievances at some point.

* While reacting to hurt by creating a grievance may be common, reacting differently to painful life events will lead to less suffering.

* Learning to handle hurts, wounds, and disappointments more skillfully will not stop things from going wrong in life. People may still be unkind, and random events can still hurt you. The world is filled with suffering and difficulty, and just because you have learned to adapt better does not mean these problems go away. What will change, however, is the space you rent them in your mind and the amount of anger, hopelessness, and despair you feel.

* Even with all the forgiveness training in the world, there will still be times when it is useful and even necessary to get angry. A personal boundary may have been broken, we may be in danger, or we may have been mistreated. However, the number of situations where acting out the anger is the optimal response is quite limited. Acting out of anger is helpful only in situations where the resulting action resolves a problem. For example, getting angry with someone who is threatening your child may be the only way to protect the child’s well-being. If a family member is abusive, you need to let them know that their behavior is unacceptable. On the other hand, getting angry because three years ago your mother said something unkind neither helps you nor resolves the situation with your mother. Neither does getting angry on the freeway because the traffic jam causes you to be late for work.

* once a situation has passed, both the long-term naming of angry feelings and the expression of anger rarely lead to good results. Anger can be a wonderful short-term solution to your life’s difficulties, yet it is rarely a good long-term solution to painful events. Anger is simply our way of reminding ourselves that we have a problem that needs attention. Yet too often we get angry instead of taking constructive action, or we get angry because we do not know what else to do.

* the impersonal nature of the hurt can be uncovered in two ways. The easiest way is to realize how common each painful experience is. It is a fact of life that nothing that has happened to you is unique. If you remind yourself that you are just one of two hundred people burglarized in your community, it is hard to take it as personally. By looking carefully, we can always find at least ten people hurt in the same way. The large and diverse number of support groups over the country attest to this fact.

* The second way to uncover the impersonal dimension of hurt is to understand that most offenses are committed without the intention of hurting anyone personally.

* We know we are focusing too much on the personal when we feel angry long after the specific hurt has occurred. When we take a hurt too personally, our body releases stress chemicals to respond to the perceived danger. These chemicals prompt the fight-or-flight response and lead us to feel discomfort in both body and mind. When we feel this discomfort long after the specific hurt has occurred, it is a sure sign that we have taken something too personally.

* “It is circumstances which show what men are. Therefore, when a difficulty falls upon you, remember that God, like a trainer of wrestlers, has matched you with a rough young man. For what purpose? you might ask. So that you may become an Olympic Conqueror; but it is not accomplished without sweat…. No man has had a more profitable difficulty than you have had, if you choose to make use of it as an athlete would deal with a young antagonist.” (EPICTETUS)

* When we become upset and ask ourselves “Whose fault is this?” and then insist that the reason for our suffering lies with someone else, we have entered the second step in the grievance process. We are playing the blame game, blaming someone else for our troubles. This is a problem because when the cause of the hurt lies outside us, we will look outside ourselves as well for the solution.

* In matters of the heart, precise answers are hard to come by. You can never know exactly why another person has acted cruelly. You can never know for sure why you feel angry or upset. You never know any other person’s thoughts. You are also not privy to each of the painful things that have happened to a person who hurt you. You cannot know if the actions this person committed were meant to hurt you. You can’t know which of the things in your past is actually influencing your experience today.

* Understanding that blame is simply a hypothesis made to try to understand why we hurt is an important step. When we play the blame game we offer the worst kind of hypotheses for why we hurt. Blame hypotheses are usually guaranteed to make us hurt and hurt and hurt until we change them. The beguiling thing about the blame game is that at first you may feel better. You may feel short-term relief because the hurt you feel is someone else’s responsibility. Over the long run, however, the good feelings fade and you are left feeling helpless and vulnerable. Only you can take the steps that will allow you to ultimately feel better.

* When we blame someone else for our suffering, when we believe that someone else is the cause of our pain, then we need something from that other person in order to feel better.

* When we think about a hurt, our body reacts as if it is in danger and activates what is known as the fight-or-flight response. The body releases chemicals whose purpose is to prepare us to respond to danger through fighting back or running away. The chemicals released are known as stress chemicals. They are designed to make us uncomfortable so that we will do something to get ourselves out of danger.

These stress chemicals get our attention by causing physical changes. They cause the heart to speed up and blood vessels to constrict. This raises blood pressure. Our liver dumps cholesterol into our bloodstream so that it can gum up our heart in case we lose too much blood. The stress chemicals alter our digestion and cause our muscles to tighten. Our breathing becomes shallower, and our senses are heightened to cope with the problem at hand. Digestion ceases, and blood flow is diverted to the center of the body. We feel jumpy and uncomfortable. Most of us blame this unpleasant body response on the person who hurt us. When we do this, we are playing the blame game in a way that can keep us trapped and helpless for a long time. The physical stress we feel when we mull over an abandonment or deception is the reason many of us struggle so hard to give up our grievances.

* When you think about someone who has hurt you deeply, your sympathetic nervous system springs into action. The sympathetic nervous system is the branch of the autonomic nervous system whose goal is to rev up our body to protect us from danger. The autonomic nervous system controls inner organs such as our heart, smooth muscles, and breathing. Our autonomic nervous system has another branch called the parasympathetic system, which calms us down after the danger is past. Both of these systems are operating operating all the time. When a danger comes into view, our sympathetic system gears up and controls the action in the fight-or-flight response. When the danger has passed or we are relaxed, our parasympathetic system controls the action and we calm down. The fight-or-flight response of the sympathetic nervous system is quick and predictable. The problem is that it gives us only two choices: fighting back or getting away. We may want to pay back the person who hurt us. We may want that person to suffer the way we have suffered. Alternatively, we may never again want to see the person who hurt us. We may try never to think of them again. While these responses to taking something too personally are common, they are primarily the result of the stress chemicals running through our body. They are primitive responses and usually not the result of careful or productive thinking. Our problem is the choices these stress chemicals offer us are inadequate in helping to regain control of our emotional life. Simply put, these are poor choices. They do not help us face charged emotional situations with people close to us or come to grips with painful life experiences or deal with the subtleties of intimate relationship.

You may have considered that the ideas of seeking revenge or avoiding harm are carefully thought out responses. Not so. They are the product of a biologically designed system of protection. Your nervous system offers these responses when you perceive danger. What is unfortunate is that your nervous system cannot tell whether the danger you are seeing is occurring now or ten years ago. Your nervous system does not know if your mother is yelling at you today or in 1981. Your nervous system does not know whether your husband had an affair today or in 1993. Your nervous system responds the only way it knows how whether you have thought about a problem once or twelve hundred times.

* To make matters worse, the fight-or-flight response alters our ability to think. The stress chemicals do part of their work of protecting us from danger by limiting the amount of electrical activity available to the thinking part of the brain. The stress chemicals also play a part in diverting blood flow from the brain’s thinking center toward more primitive parts of the brain.

The body is so exquisitely designed to protect us from danger that it won’t allow us to waste our precious resources planning things out or thinking of new ideas. Our biology says survival is most important. Our body is willing to stand guard each of the 100 times we remember the horrible way our boss yelled at us…

* The biggest mistake we make while under the influence of the stress chemicals is to blame our distress on the person who hurt us. When we blame another person for how we feel, we grant them the power to regulate our emotions. In all likelihood, this power will not be used wisely, and we will continue to suffer. The number of people who give power over to those who did not care about them is shockingly high. Feeling bad every time we think of the person who has hurt us becomes a habit and leads us to feel like the victim of someone more powerful.

* You know it’s a grievance story when you feel a flutter in your stomach, a tightening in your chest, or sweat forming in your palms. Grievance stories are the stories you tell when you explain to a friend why your life has not worked out the way you hoped. They are the ones you tell to make sense of why you are unhappy or angry. Here is a brief test to help you determine whether the story you have been telling to yourself and others is a grievance story.

Have you told your story more than twice to the same person?
Do you replay the events that happened more than two times in a day in your mind?
Do you find yourself speaking to the person who hurt you even when that person is not there?
Have you made a commitment to yourself to tell the story without upset and then found yourself unexpectedly agitated?
Is the person who hurt you the central character of your story?
When you tell this story, does it remind you of other painful things that have happened to you?
Does your story focus primarily on your pain and what you have lost?
In your story is there a villain?
Have you made a commitment to yourself to not tell your story again and then broken your vow?
Do you look for other people with similar problems to tell your story to?
Has your story stayed the same over time?
Have you checked the details of your story for accuracy?

* The way we create memories is what makes our grievance story so hard to shake. Our mind stores memories in categories. In order to make sense out of things that have happened, we link thoughts by association with other memories. Some memories can be stored in more than one category. When bad things happen to they can be stored in the “grievance story” in-box. Or they may be stored in the “people do not love me” in-box. Sometimes we store them in the “life is unfair” in-box. Some of us have large in-boxes for these categories and as a result become easily reminded of hurts and grievances.

After storing memories in various categories, our mind searches to find past events that match our current mood. If we feel sad in the present, we get instant access to sad memories from the past. If we feel angry in the present, then our tendency is to find memories of other things that made us mad. If we are thinking of a situation where we were mistreated, other examples of that will fill our head. The most harmful memory categories are those that remind you of when you were helpless or angry. Grievance stories do this by their nature. Due to the associative nature of memory, things that trigger these categories lead only to more and more painful feelings. We don’t realize how many of our moods are determined by the random memories of past hurts. When we focus on painful events in the past, we decrease our self-confidence. In addition, we activate the stress chemicals, which pose risks for physical well-being.

* Dana’s co-workers at first were sympathetic to her plight. They empathized with her loss and frustration. However, as Dana’s job performance suffered and she continued to claim, “I have wasted ten years of my life,” people at work became less supportive. Soon people avoided her because they no longer wanted to hear her grievance story. Her co-workers began telling a story of their own. In their story Dana was the problem, disrupting the work environment and unable to move on with her life. Dana wondered why her co-workers started to avoid her.

* Researchers have found that people like Alan and Dana who share their life experiences with others tend to deal better with stress. This is called social support, and generally the more of it the better. Research shows that good social support is beneficial for people dealing well stress. People who rely on friends or family are generally happier and report better health.

* The people who profited most from social support asked for comfort for a shorter period of time. They requested advice and wished to learn how to cope better with what had happened to them. They wanted their friends and family to be honest with them and then tried to use their assistance to make changes in their lives. These people used the support to help themselves through a difficult period and received health benefits as a result. They saw themselves as faced with a challenge and were up to the task. They could have created a grievance story but instead used gumption and the support of friends to endure a crisis and tell a positive story of their successful coping.

Those who did not profit from social support asked for different things from their family and friends. These folks tended to complain to family and friends about how poorly they were treated. They encouraged their friends and family to support them even if they were wrong. They saw their problems as big and resented the challenges they were faced with. Their self-esteem was so fragile that they resisted advice that would help them change for the better. These people were telling a grievance story and resisted giving up that story. They suffered health consequences as a result.

* We begin the process of creating a new story by taking care every time we talk about the unresolved painful things that have happened to us. When you hear yourself talking about a past hurt, stop for a moment to see if you are telling a grievance story. If so, pause and take a deep breath. Your grievance story, which seems so comforting and familiar, is your enemy. That grievance story, more than what hurt you, has imprisoned you. It keeps you in the past. It alienates your friends and family and reminds you and others that you are a victim. Once we change our grievance story, we are on the road to healing.

* Trying to change what cannot be changed or influence those who do not want to be influenced will meet with failure and cause us emotional distress.

* The rules we have for other people’s behavior and for our own behavior will to a large degree determine how we feel. Why? Because some rules are enforceable and others not. When you have too many unenforceable rules or try too hard to enforce the ones you have, you create a problem. Trying to enforce only those things you can control will help your life go more smoothly.

* feeling angry or helpless or depressed is an indication that we are trying to enforce an unenforceable rule.

* None of us has ultimate control over our health or the life and death of the people we love. Put bluntly, when something unpleasant happens, we have the choice of accepting it or not. The reason we do not accept what happens to us is we cling instead to our unenforceable rules.

* The more unenforceable rules you have, the greater likelihood that you will feel agitated and disappointed. The stronger you try to enforce something you cannot control, the worse you will feel. If you cling to even one unenforceable rule, you leave yourself open to suffer every single time the rule is broken.

* Writing tickets is not the same as taking constructive action. Writing tickets is what you do when you cannot figure out what constructive action to take.

* “My husband must not lie to me” is a common example of an unenforceable rule.

* Each of us would love it if out significant others were honest with us. Our partnerships would be the better for it, since we could trust our partners more easily and would feel safer. Unfortunately, the reality is we cannot make a partner be more truthful than she or he chooses to be. We cannot force a spouse to do anything that person does choose to do.

* For both women, much of their suffering arose because they could not accept the truth of their lives. They lived with husbands who were more likely to disappoint than satisfy them. Rather than taking constructive action, each woman kept on trying to enforce her unenforceable rule. Each woman wrote out tons of tickets and suffered because she did not understand the deadly power of her unenforceable rules. Each woman claimed that her rule was correct and her husband wrong. Neither realized there is no way to win when you are trying to enforce an unenforceable rule. The pain both women felt was related to how strongly she tried to enforce her rule. Each woman got angry as her unenforceable rule was broken. Neither woman had the power to make her husband do what she wanted, which led to feelings of helplessness. Sarah had an unenforceable rule in her mind that her husband was not supposed to drink. If Jim was not supposed to drink, why did he? He must have had a different rule. His rule was that it was OK to drink. He may have had a rule where wives are supposed to mind their own business. Sarah did not follow his unenforceable rules and that may have frustrated him.

* Unenforceable rules are everywhere and are at the root of almost all our suffering. Often, husbands and wives have different rules governing the same situation. This can lead to all types of problems. A rule I often hear from women is, “I’ve had a hard day at work, and I need my husband to be understanding tonight and not pester me to have sex.” But husbands often have a very different rule. They may think, “I’ve had a hard day at work, and I need a loving and sexually available wife.” When this occurs, both partners have unenforceable rules.

* Linda and George were such a couple. When George wanted sex and Linda was too tired, her response was to get mad at George for breaking her rule—although she did not put it that way—and view him as an inconsiderate oaf. Unfortunately, George had a different rule. He perceived Linda’s lack of sexual desire as unkindness on her part. As a result, Linda was often angry with George while George felt shunned by Linda. Both were trying to enforce unenforceable rules instead of facing the reality of their own and their partner’s limitations. Their marriage improved when they stopped trying to enforce their rules and instead started forgiving each other.

Underlying every grievance is the reality that the offended party had an unenforceable rule that was not followed. The rule can be as generic as “I should not suffer,” “People should be nice to me,” or “I have to be loved.” Or it can take the form of specific rules of conduct such as “My lover should have cleaned the bathroom exactly as I told him to.” In either case, demanding adherence to rules that cannot be enforced lies at the base of the grievance process.

When you say that someone you love must love you back, you are creating an unenforceable rule. Just because you love them why do they have to love you? When you say that your husband should not drink but instead come home to you at night, you are creating an unenforceable rule. Just because you want your husband to be sober does not mean he wants the same thing.

When you say your friends must not lie to you, you are creating an unenforceable rule. Just because your relationships would be easier with truth telling does not mean your friends have to make the relationship easier on you. When you say your family should be sensitive when you are in pain, you are creating an unenforceable rule. Just because you want care does not mean your family has to offer it when you want it. On your vacation when you want the weather to be perfect, you are creating an unenforceable rule. Just because you want good weather does not mean it will happen. When you say your boss should be patient with you, you are creating an unenforceable rule. Just because you want a sensitive boss does not mean that becomes a priority for him.

In each of the above examples you are clearly stating what you hope will happen. Each example consists of a good and positive wish. The world would be a better place if everyone were loved and treated fairly. Each of these desires is a good one, and it is helpful for you to know what you want. The problem comes when you forget that what you hope for is not the same as what you get.

* Gratitude Channel

Walk into your nearest supermarket and give thanks for the abundance of food available. Go to a nursing home or hospital and give thanks for your good health. When driving, mentally thank each of the drivers who follow the rules of the road. If you have a significant other, thank this person for caring for you. Make it a point to do this every day. Remind yourself of any kind act done by your parents. Notice a salesperson or clerk at a store, and thank this person for waiting on you. In your home, give thanks for all of the labor that went into making your furniture, appliances, and food. As you wake up each morning, give thanks for your breath and the gift of your life.

* Beauty Channel

When stuck in traffic, notice the beauty of the sky or the remarkable movement of birds or clouds. Stop at a schoolyard and observe the delightful play of little children. Find a favorite spot in nature that you can go to easily. Remember what that spot looks and feels like. Watch nature shows on television. Deeply appreciate your favorite piece of music. Walk slowly, and absorb the smells and sights of nature. Notice how beautiful well-prepared food looks and tastes. Observe the beauty and wonder of flowers, in particular the array of colors. Notice how attractive the people you love look. Go to a zoo, and marvel at the variety of animals. Envision the beauty of Big Sur.

* Forgiveness Channel

Look for people who have forgiven others, and ask them to tell you their stories. Remember when you have forgiven, and remind yourself you can do it. Read books about people who have forgiven hurtful situations. See if there are any forgiveness stories in your family. Practice forgiving the littlest offenses against you. Practice forgiving for just a minute at a time. Forgive a driver who cuts you off in the road. Think of times that you have hurt others and needed forgiveness. Notice whenever someone is kind to you after you have hurt him or her. Notice how often you naturally forgive those you love.

* Love Channel

Look for people who are in love, and smile at their happiness. Go to a hospital, and observe the love of family who care for those who are ill. Remember the times in your life when you were loved. Remember the times in your life when you were loving. Call up a friend, and tell them you care about them. Look for memories of kindness done for you by your parents. Ask yourself what you can do to become a more loving person. Ask someone about a time when she or he felt really loved.

* If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment. MARCUS ANTONIUS

* The good news is that challenging unenforceable rules is a simple process. Unenforceable rules make their presence known. You do not have to look far to find them. They do not hide under the rug. Every time you are more than mildly upset with the actions of someone else it is because you are trying to enforce an unenforceable rule. EVERY time you are more than mildly upset with your life it is because you are trying to enforce an unenforceable rule. You will not stay angry or hurt unless an unenforceable rule of yours has been broken.

* acknowledge our upset and know we are upset in the present. Step two is to remind ourselves that our urge to write a ticket comes from unenforceable rules. Then, step three is to assert our willingness to challenge the unenforceable rules that are causing us so much pain. That means we focus on changing the way we think and not the person with whom we are upset… The fourth step in this process is to uncover the unenforceable rule. What is exciting is this is much easier than one may think. The unenforceable rule is simply the desire or hope you have for something good that has been turned into an expectation or demand… After you have identified your unenforceable rule, you can ask yourself to deliberately change the way you think about what you want or need by substituting the words hope or wish for the unenforceable expectation or demand.

* The sixth and final step of challenging your unenforceable rules is to realize that you are thinking more clearly and feeling better when you stop demanding and start wishing.

* SIX STEPS TO CHALLENGE YOUR UNENFORCEABLE RULES Recognize that you feel hurt, angry, alienated, depressed, or hopeless. Acknowledge that your feelings may be from memories of the past but that you experience the feelings in the present. Remind yourself that you feel bad because you are trying to enforce an unenforceable rule. Assert your willingness to challenge your unenforceable rule. Find your unenforceable rule by asking yourself the following question: “What experiences in my life am I thinking of right now that I am demanding to be different?” In your mind change from demanding you get what you want to hoping you get what you want. Notice that when you wish or hope things be the way you want, then you think more clearly and feel more peaceful.

* The desire to find loving friends, family, and lovers is critical to our happiness. The problem arises when we demand that our friends, family, and lovers be the way we want them to be.

* I often ask people to consider who is the central character in their grievance story.

* I see time and again that when hurt people reconnect with their noblest goals they gain an immediate burst of power. Finding your positive intention reconnects you with your goals. The sad truth is, your grievances separated you from your most positive goals through your excessive focus on what went wrong.

* The biggest drawback to telling grievance stories is they keep us connected in a powerless way with people who have hurt us. When we mull over our past wounds and hurts, we remind ourselves of a part of our life that did not work. Reconnecting with our positive intention reminds us of our goals and enables us to move forward.

* When we pay attention to losses we tend to feel sadness. When we pay attention to our blessings we tend to feel happier.

* forgiveness is often not the best initial response to hurt. First, make sure that you clearly know what happened and how you feel and that you have told a couple of trusted people. This process can take time. Do not bypass hurt feelings. They provide us with valuable information, showing us what we value and what needs attention. However, when we tune in hurt feelings and tune out gratitude, beauty, and love, we struggle to remember that other points of view are also possible.

* I understand that everyone, including me, operates primarily out of self-interest. I expect that sometimes I, in my self-interest, will be hurt by someone else’s expression of their self-interest. When I understand this is an ordinary part of life, what is there to be upset about? When I grasp that self-interest is my guiding principle, how can I not offer forgiveness to everyone, including myself, for behaving that way?

* Another powerful way to practice forgiveness is to remind yourself that other people do not always have your best interest at heart. When you explore this idea you realize that you also do not always act in the best interest of others. Soon from this perspective, it is inevitable that people hurt one another. Therefore, there will be many opportunities to practice forgiveness.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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