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