09 Oct 2011
It is very possible that the concept of forgiveness may be the most misunderstood and underutilized skill in the human experience. In the Greek language, forgiveness is the same word as release or letting go. This definition conjures up sensations of liberation, capitulation and freedom. On paper, it reads like a natural and benevolent process – something one freely GIVES to another to release yourself and others from the past. In practice however, it is often misunderstood as something that someone who has done us wrong must ASK of us.
The most precious gift that we have is our breath – without it, we would simply die. We can live for a short time without food, water, love and light but we cannot live for more than a minute or two without air. Breathing in and exhaling signifies the natural inevitability of the cycle of life: We take into our bodies the oxygen we need to live and we release or let go of carbon dioxide and other by-products that no longer serve us.
Our experience of life bears a striking resemblance to this natural process. We are constantly taking in the world around us and our interactions with others produce a myriad of consequences – some are positive while others are not. Unfortunately, negative or hurtful experiences are inevitable. As human beings we all have the same capacity to inflict harm through our words, actions and inactions, whether knowingly or unknowingly. But we all know that we cannot hold our breath forever; the release of by products and things that no longer serve us is an instinctive function. By the same token, sooner or later we all must discover our innate capacity to forgive.
Forgiveness, like exhaling, is an act of faith. It can neither be stopped nor compelled. There is no proof that peace will follow or that the release from anger, vengeance or self-righteousness will be immediate.
On our deathbed, I doubt any of us would say ‘I wish I held onto more anger and resentment or took a bit longer to forgive.’ In fact, if you were to look out into the future and imagine the world and all of your relationships from a position where you knew with absolute certainty that they would be gone tomorrow, would you act differently today?
Would you regret not having closure? Would you mourn the years that you kept yourself enslaved by bitterness, blame and indignation? Would you lament the loss of pleasure, love and peace that could have been yours if only you could have found a way to forgive sooner? Does the thing that you are fighting or obsessing about now really even matter in the grand scheme of things?
We all know our own pain – we are intimately familiar with the injustices that we have suffered, the crosses we have had to bear and the countless nights that we have cried ourselves to sleep. What we don’t fully grasp is the depth of another’s pain – the unspoken abuse, neglect, prejudices, anguish, loss, torment or afflictions. At the time, we think we are the only ones who are hurting and we forget that the scars and burdens of others are not always visible on the outside. We can never truly know another’s plight until we have walked a mile in their shoes. I believe that the first step toward forgiveness is simply the willingness to take one’s own shoes off and put another’s on. The rest can be surprisingly easy.
To learn more about forgiveness I recommend that you read On The Shoulders of Giants. In Chapter 28, I explain in detail exactly how I learned to forgive the four boys who were responsible for the murder of my mother several years ago in Canada. I know first-hand how difficult it can seem to forgive but I also know the awesome release, strength and freedom that can come from the ultimate gift of love – forgiveness of yourself and others.
Haven’t you already waited long enough to be released from those old emotions that no longer serve you? When is now a good time to change and to move forward toward your bright and compelling future?
11 Sep 2011
Many people believe that depression can result from anger turned inwards. Anger and depression are simply states of mind just like sadness, frustration, confusion etc. Yet many people mistakenly ask the question “is anger a symptom of depression”?
Anger does not cause (nor is it a symptom of depression). In my clinical experience, persistent anger does often co-exist with MANY other negative emotions – frustration, despair etc. However, in assisting clients to release these deeply ingrained patterns of negative emotions, it is often necessary to work with and release anger first as it is a strong, dominant, primary emotion. Often, unless anger is released first, it is impossible to face or address the underlying issue(s).
However, I do not believe anger causes or is a symptom of depression per se.
Depression often presents when a person is constantly worried about problems they perceive they have no control over. It results from a tendency to focus exclusively on the negative – thought, spoken word, physiology etc. Like anger, depression is not something that happens to us – it can be created and exacerbated by our thoughts, words and physiology over time. Over long periods of time, it is possible to develop a habit of being angry all the time and/or a habit of being depressed.
Statistics prove that the majority of us focus more of our attention on what we don’t want (or are afraid of) and we tend to do it with passion! Science has already proven that anything we do with strong emotion and passion creates a deeper engram (impression) on our minds.
Changing deeply ingrained habits or repetitive states of mind (whether they be positive or negative) requires repetitive autosuggestion over a period of at least 21 days. This fact was discovered in the 60’s by a plastic surgeon named Maxwell Maltz.
What this means is that we are always in control of our experience of the world – our emotions, our meanings and the habits we develop over time. No one causes us to feel angry or depressed. It is something that we choose to do ourselves, in response to our life experiences. The good news is that we can take responsibility and “unchoose” the unproductive states of mind or habits….thereby changing forever our results and our destiny.
11 Aug 2011
Without a doubt, the number #1 question I get asked by clients is ‘how do I break a bad habit like procrastination, worry, insomnia, negative thinking or smoking’? There are a million examples of ways that each one of us holds our own success back by ‘doing’ unproductive habits.
To make lasting change to deeply ingrained bad habits using willpower and positive affirmations alone is not realistic. Everyone knows that positive thinking is undependable and produces inconsistent results, at best. The self-image on the other hand underpins our level of emotional intelligence (EQ), which is now recognised as being an even more important measurement for success than the IQ.
It has been scientifically proven that our brain circuits take engrams or memory traces and produce neuro connections only if they are bombarded with the information for 21 days in a row. This means that our brain does not accept ‘new’ data or habit changes unless they are repeated each day for at least 21 days, without missing a day.
If you want to change a habit like refusing to let go of the past, spending all your time worrying about what might go wrong, overeating, biting your nails or spending more than you earn,
it can be done but it will require consistent effort on your part, every day for at least 21 days. In order to do it, your success rate will improve significantly if you can replace that old habit you no longer need with a good and productive habit that will support you to achieve your goals and find someone to help keep you accountable.
And remember, no matter where you are in your life right now – the choices you have made or the experiences you have had – “I have a belief that it is never too late to become the person you were meant to be!”