Forgiveness

June 2, 2015 at 2:26 pm | Posted in Health, Psychology | 3 Comments
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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.
David

3 Comments »

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  1. […] the CHIP program is a Complete Health Improvement Program, the last classes have covered emotional health and changing your environment to better support your improved health. The same principles of eating […]

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  2. I don’t understand how to forgive… I can’t choose to feel differently because there is so much anger, resentment and bitterness that won’t be denied. How does one release the energy to be able to feel neutral towards a person or situation?

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  3. Hi Morgan
    Well – the first thing is, forgiveness isn’t something you “understand” – thats the mind trying to figure it out. This is an emotional process.

    Second, you don’t get to forgiveness through anger, etc. You get there After releasing some of that load. As the article notes “Forgiveness means letting go of the charge and our investment in it, not forgetting.”

    The basic thing to understand is that emotions have to be processed or “digested” emotionally. Sometimes, when we have more difficult experiences, they can’t all be processed at the time. We have to come back to them later. But if we don’t have the skills or it’s ongoing, we can develop a backlog and instead learn to repress how we feel. This is really common these days.

    Part of that repression process can be the mind making a story about it and trying to control. This can put us out of touch with how we actually feel and attempt to mange it with the mind. The main thing the mind will do is repress.

    The reason those feelings “won’t be denied” is because they’re looking for a way to be resolved. So they’ll keep popping up in life, sometimes at inopportune times. The key is learning a few simple skills for better handling our emotions. Then we can process through our backlog. And Then we can get to a place of forgiveness. Not to mention greater inner peace, more energy, health, and a much less buzzy mind.

    Big subject thats beyond the scope of a comment. Books like the one mentioned can help. Also stress management tools like an effortless meditation. (discussed a bit in the article linked above your comment) And some understanding about how our relationship with our lives is something we can edit, for example in what we favour with our attention. We can’t control what happens but we can decide how we respond to it.

    These are basic life skills that our culture rather lacks. But very useful to pick up for quality of life. It can take a bit of time to change the momentum of the boat, but its very much worth it. It will benefit the rest of your life.

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