Do something! Act on your plan Forgiveness doesn’t just happen; it takes preparation The person who gains most from forgiving is the forgiver The real courage lies in trying again – and maybe again TO FORGIVE IS TO ACCUSE. REFUSING TO FORGIVE IS LIKE TAKING POISON AND EXPECTING SOMEONE ELSE TO DIE. AS LONG AS YOU CAN’T FORGIVE THEM, THEY ARE IN CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE. THE PERSON WHO GAINS MOST IN FORGIVING IS THE FORGIVER.
WHAT YOU CAN HOPE FOR You will struggle and choose, eventually arriving at the deep understanding that grace, love, and power are yours to keep for yourself even as you share your strength and gifts with others.
You’ve picked up this book because someone has hurt you. This little guide is intended to give you relief, no matter how you’ve been wronged. What happened to you may seem insignificant compared to what other people suffer, or it may be overwhelmingly horrible by anyone’s standards. The important thing is that you have a right to your suffering. You have a right to own it and to seek freedom from it.
People who tell you they “know how you feel” probably don’t. There will be those who tell you what you should do about it, but they don’t know what’s right for you. Or some may avoid you altogether because they just don’t know how to treat you in your grief. You may be the kind of person who desires the comfort of others, or you may prefer to be alone. It makes sense to seek that which consoles you, and only you can know what that is. The answer to reducing your pain doesn’t lie in the end with kindly advisors who want to do it for you, or tell you how to do it. Only you hold the solution, and that’s the purpose of working through these pages.
“Forgiveness” is in the title, but don’t even think of forgiving just because someone else tells you to! The power is yours. That’s what this little book is all about – a journey toward making your own decisions and acting on them in the way that’s best for you. My purpose is to be your experienced travel guide, keeping you company throughout this mission.
Striving toward a decision whether to forgive is one of the most transforming, life affirming, empowering gifts you can give yourself, the ones you love, and the broad community around you. In the process of arriving at your forgiveness goal, you will claim your personal power and truth. You will move forward into positive dynamism instead of getting stuck in negative energy. You will be restored to the energized, complete, productive, optimistic person you were meant to be.
How do I know this? For starters, you can have confidence in the fact that I’ve been in the study, practice, and teaching of psychology for more than half a century, never ceasing to explore current research. Moreover, since first becoming interested in the topic of forgiveness sometime around 1986, I have eagerly explored not only the psychological factors and implications, but also the theological, sociological, and philosophical dimensions of this most central of human gifts. Always in my counseling and therapy practice I have focused on health and possibilities for growth, never yielding to the temptation to treat the people I counsel as if they were “sick” and in need of medical diagnosis. Instead, my purpose has been to help people plumb the depths of their own positive energy and ability.
Perhaps most basic is the seasoning my own life experiences contribute. Out of the wrenching pain of the termination of my marriage came so much enrichment. I learned that shame can be converted to self-confidence, anger can strengthen productive directed problem solving, guilt can be redressed or identified as inappropriate, and hard psychological work can reinforce the knowledge that even the deepest grief will lead ultimately to emergence into the bright light of fully productive living. Another word for that knowledge is “hope,” realistic anticipation of an attainable outcome. I also learned that, though my own situation was as nothing compared to the horror some people experience, it was nonetheless real and worthy of my own respectful attention.
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