Well, it has been a year. Improbable though it seems, we have made it to the end of 2020. I wish you and your family, your friends and your pets, especially all the dogs, a wonderful time. See everyone in 2021!
This week, I wanted to share a colouring page for Christmas. It is a simple image but as will see in next week's post, it can be fancy! Would love to see what you make of the design.
It has been a long, hard year. I have lost track of the number of people who have told me that they are struggling to deal with the uncertainty in their lives.
It is December and we are creeping closer to the end of the year, we still do not know what lies ahead. There is no certainty about the end to our global uncertainty.
A few weeks ago, on Map the Maze, I made a podcast with Dr Monica Borschel, and she spoke about the importance of being kind to ourselves. Last week, I suggested listening to some of the episodes for support and ideas.
This week, I urge you to consider finding your flow this month. Each of us has an activity, that we can immerse ourselves in. The noise of the world, even our inner world disappears and we focus on the present. For me this can be walking with my dogs (who have starred in previous blogs) or drawing (again colouring pages!) or reading a great book (Hello Sherlock Holmes!) or watching a truly silly movie.
We have all been tested by the experiences of this year, even without being engaged in mediation. For most of us, our capacity to deal with challenges has been compromised and decreased. When this occurs, we need to find a way to recharge our batteries. Over the next few weeks, if you can, I suggest that you find that charger. Find the flow and do it. Book it in the calendar. Find a way to look after yourself.
Next year, 2021 is likely to bring more challenges rather than less. We need to be prepared and ready. Find your flow, even if it is just watching all the silly movies you love.
This week no blog. I wanted to encourage you to listen to my podcast Map the Maze which is available on Spotify, Apple podcasts, Anchor FM (links below).
Each week since June I have been sharing ideas and thoughts about how people experiencing family mediation can find ways to empower themselves and to heal.
If you are transitioning through divorce or separation, then it can seem like things are overwhelming. Listen in to the podcast mini-series with Dr Monica Borschel (9 , 16 and 23 November 2020) where she shares how this can feel, why we feel this way and how we can help ourselves.
to forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you
Lewis B. Smedes
Christian author and ethicist, professor of theology
Last week, I shared Luskin's thoughts about grievances (the planes that will not land) and the preconditions to forgiveness. Now, the final reveal, how do we become forgiving?
CHANGE THE CHANNEL
The first step is to change our mindset. Luskin shares that most people are giving too much time to the grievances rather than focusing on gratitude and beauty. We need to change the channel from the negative things that have happened, to the beauty, nature, love and gratitude in our lives. Luskin suggests that the more we focus on the gratitude channel the more the hurts will diminish. If we can tune in to the positive channels in life we can help ourselves.
When you are in the moment and feel the pain from the unresolved grievance, Luskin recommends using Positive Emotion Refocusing Technique (PERT).
Changing the Channel and using PERT, can help to calm our minds. By changing from unenforceable rules to hopes / wishes, we can regain the ability to focus on what we wanted to achieve, rather than how we have been disappointed.
If you are reading this and thinking this sounds too hard, or not rigorous enough, I challenge you to read Luskin's Forgive for Good. I have used Luskin's techniques in my own life and can attest to their value. Am I always forgiving? absolutely not! However, when I have time and can focus, I know that I will feel better if I can use these techniques. I would hope that everyone I work with in mediation could have access to these techniques. If you are in mediation consider trying some of these ideas to find peace and to promote your own well-being. We have power and we need to stop giving it to others. Reclaim your power!
Luskin in Forgive for Good suggests that we need to find a way to land the grievance stories that keep circling in our minds. Not because we should forgive and forget, or because what happened wasn't that bad. Instead, Luskin asks us to choose well-being, empowerment and freedom.
So if this argument is so clear, why do we resist forgiveness?
One reason can be that we do not know how. The other can be that we have created a grievance story - a plane that cannot land. We have created an unenforceable rule (e.g. no-one should lie to me) and then someone we cannot control has broken the rule (e.g. lied to us, betrayed us). Luskin explains that instead of creating unenforceable rules, we can create hopes / wishes.
What can we do? We can acknowledge that in life we may be disappointed, that we cannot control other people's behaviour. We can set a positive goal for what we would like to happen, or not happen. By reframing the unenforceable rule as a hope / wish, we refocus on what we do want, and how to obtain that, rather than the disappointment.
Luskin recommends pre-conditions before we embark on forgiveness:
Next week, what are the steps we can take to be forgiving?
Let me share a little good news. Luskin in his book, Forgive for Good shared the results from several research studies he conducted on the impact of forgiveness. Here are the key benefits of forgiveness:
One of the foundational principles in mediation is party self-determination. This means that mediators believe that parties should find their own solutions. For mediators this is based on the belief that solutions will be more meaningful and sustainable if the parties create them. Finding and negotiating the answers requires parties to feel empowered to express their thoughts and concerns.
So, if we know that forgiveness, is:
"Forgive for Good" Dr Fred Luskin
Go back to your school playground. Someone has hurt another child. An adult is telling one child to say ‘sorry’ and for the other child to ‘forgive’ them. As children we are told to respond reflexively to an apology and offer forgiveness. The challenge is that we are not often taught what forgiveness means or how to do it. It can seem to mean:
It is important for people to recognise that Luskin is not proposing a selfless and self-sacrificing forgiveness. His forgiveness is a form of empowerment. It is not about minimising what happened or denying that something happened. It does not mean reconciling with the person who hurt you, they may never know that you have forgiven them.
For parties in conflict, there can be a significant amount of unresolved pain and anger over behaviour / events / decisions. Luskin explains that remaining in anger and pain is a choice. By learning how to forgive, parties can free themselves. In mediation, this freedom translates into an enhanced ability to negotiate in their own best interests.
Next week, why is forgiveness good for us?
Between the books and the screen adaptations there is one significant difference. In the books, Moriarty is described as the Napoleon of Crime, yet he appears in only two stories. Whilst Holmes acknowledges his importance as an adversary, he is not the only source of crime, evil and plotting.
In screen adaptations, Moriarty is regularly shown to be the puppet master and the focus of Holmes's obsession. Moriarty is behind every twitching curtain and nasty plot. Perhaps this intense relationship was most striking in the BBC adaptation, Sherlock.
in conflict, we can become obsessed with the other person. They become a target of blame, they are all bad. They have hurt us intentionally. This may be true. It may not be true.
Regardless, the question remains is it helpful? In Luskin's Forgive for Good, he suggests that when we focus on the person who has hurt us and continue to focus our blame on them, we cede power. We give power over how we feel, and how to hurt us to a person who probably does not have our best interests at heart.
Luskin asks us to reclaim our power. To change our story about what happened from a victim story, to one in which we are the hero. To refocus our attention on to our well-being and forgive the person who hurt us. I will be sharing some blogs about forgiveness over the next few weeks.
Sherlock, never learns to leave his obsession. In the books and also the adaptations he vanquishes his enemy. In real life this is not an option, better to learn to keep our power and to heal ourselves.