ForgivenessJune 2, 2015 at 2:26 pm | Posted in Health, Psychology | 3 Comments
Tags: CHIP, forgive, health, Tibbits
An entire lesson in CHIP is on forgiveness. Very simply because if we carry old resentment and anger, it will not only interfere with emotional health, it can directly effect our physical health and well-being too.
For example, if we’re carrying chronic anger, we’re much more likely to have high blood pressure and heart disease. As well, with the fire burning, the body releases fat for energy. If that’s not used because it’s not actually expressed, it floats around in the bloodstream as cholesterol. Through the mechanisms discussed prior, this can lead to a host of diseases.
As another example, if we have old unresolved fears, they may thwart our ability to get healthy or to keep weight off. They used the example of a woman who felt unsafe when she was slim and attractive.
The lesson itself was given by Dr. Dick Tibbits, the author of Forgive to Live. I notice his book is available in a couple of styles – as a secular and a more Christian version. But the approach itself is based on science and is used in his hospital.
Forgiveness does not mean condoning or accepting or forgetting what happened. They describe “forgive and forget” as a myth. Forgiveness means letting go of the charge and our investment in it, not forgetting.
This is not just about people. You may need to let go of old unhappiness about past (or present) circumstances too.
They explained that anger is not stored. What is stored is memories and associations. When we bring the memory up again, it triggers the ideas and emotions we’ve associated with it. Thus the primary approach Dr. Tibbits noted was reframing. Shifting our frame of reference for the memory. Seeing it another way. That shifts the associations too and thus how we remember those past hurts. Seen differently, we can release the charge.
Myself, I found culturing gratitude very useful for raising the emotional tone. Not making a mood of it, just thinking of different things in your life you are grateful for here and there in the day. Humor is also benefical. This helps shift our attention off dwelling on past struggles and opens the door to release as forgiveness.
As may be obvious here, self-reflection is a valuable tool. Part of this process is becoming conscious of our inner dynamics. We don’t have choice if we’re in unconscious reactivity. But with a little self-reflection, we can become conscious between stimulus and our reactive response. And then we can choose.
It also helps to recognize we’re doing this to ourselves – that’s the part we want to heal. Waiting for someone else to say sorry is just giving them the power over you. Forgiveness is taking back your power. That’s one of the surprising revelations about this process. As they noted, you can’t take a poison pill and hope the other person dies.
Also, remember that “letting go” is not a concept. We can’t think our way through this. This is a release of energy, usually experienced subjectively as emotion. We’re letting go of the charge, the emotion. Then the idea of it, the memory, becomes more neutral.
Our life is defined by the choices we make, not the cards we’re dealt. We always have the choice to forgive. We can point to those born into poverty who became happy and successful. And those born into wealth who self-destruct. It is just a long series of small steps that take us down our chosen path.
The class also explored various details, like handling anger and the stages of personal change.
Now we’re getting to the last couple of weeks of classes.