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Forgiveness: An Important But Misunderstood Process that Can Heal the Wounded and the World We Live In Neag School of Education, October 7, 2010 Forgiveness:

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Presentation on theme: "Forgiveness: An Important But Misunderstood Process that Can Heal the Wounded and the World We Live In Neag School of Education, October 7, 2010 Forgiveness:"— Presentation transcript:

1 Forgiveness: An Important But Misunderstood Process that Can Heal the Wounded and the World We Live In Neag School of Education, October 7, 2010 Forgiveness: An Important But Misunderstood Process that Can Heal the Wounded and the World We Live In Neag School of Education, October 7, 2010 Jim O’Neil, Ph.D Jim O’Neil, Ph.D Counseling Psychologist Professor Department of Educational Psychology & Family Studies University of Connecticut

2 Forgiveness: A Bold Choice Contexts for forgiveness Contexts for forgiveness Definitions of forgiveness Definitions of forgiveness What forgiveness is and is not What forgiveness is and is not Personality qualities of those who forgive Personality qualities of those who forgive Process of forgiveness Process of forgiveness My own forgiveness process and yours too My own forgiveness process and yours too

3 Forgiveness What is in forgiveness for you? What is in forgiveness for you? I have received the most polarized I have received the most polarized reactions to this presentation of all reactions to this presentation of all of my lectures. of my lectures. Positive Negative

4 What Is Forgiveness? To give up the right to legitimate anger and hurt and to let go of the negative attachment to the hurt and to show compassion, care, love, to the person who has hurt us (Snyder et al., 2000).

5 2. Initial Shock, Anger, Rage, Grief, Loss, Confusion, Emotional Pain Published in O’Neil et al., 2005 ( Copyright, 2005 Haworth Press) The Wounded Person 3. Initial Quest for Understanding Why the Injury Happened 4. Distorted Schemas & Defense Mechanisms (Denial, Projection, etc.) 5. Grievance Story & Grudges: Ongoing Attributions to Explain Injury - Blame Others - Self Blame 6. Rehearsals of the Hurt, Injury, and Negative Thoughts about Offender 7. Bonded in the Negative: Reoccurring Negative Emotional Outcomes: Anger, Rage, Hate, Fear, Depression, Anxiety, Shame, Guilt 1. Injury, Violation & Victimization Break Through to Healing or Forgiveness 1. Recognition that injury has permanently and negatively changed self. 2. Recognition that old strategies are not producing resolution/closure. 3. Consideration of healing approaches The Wounded Person Cycle

6 Quote about Forgiveness "Having forgiven, I am liberated! I need no longer be determined by the past!" Father Martin Jenco, Bound to Forgive, 1995

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8 No Doubt a Spiritually Evolved Human Being

9 Father Martin Jenco was an ordained Roman Catholic priest in the order called "The Servants of Mary" (O.S.M.). He was an American hostage held in Beirut with others, including Terry Anderson, Rev. Ben Weir, and Thomas Sutherland. Father Jenco's 564 days in captivity, which started in 1985, are told in his book "Bound to Forgive" (Ave Maria Press, c1995).

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11 Your Assignment: Forgiveness Reflection Instructions: Reflect on & visualize a person you need to forgive from the past or in the present. Reflect on & visualize a person you need to forgive from the past or in the present. Allow yourself to bring this person into your complete consciousness. Allow yourself to bring this person into your complete consciousness. Address each of the following in your response: Address each of the following in your response:

12 Assignment: Forgiveness Reflection Describe how this person hurt you. Describe how this person hurt you. What feelings or thoughts are unresolved related to your hurt? What feelings or thoughts are unresolved related to your hurt? Is forgiveness a possibility for you now? Is forgiveness a possibility for you now? If yes, explain how. If yes, explain how. If no, explain what is in the way. If no, explain what is in the way. Describe your reaction to this exercise and the lecture on forgiveness. Describe your reaction to this exercise and the lecture on forgiveness.

13 Forgiveness is Everywhere In Our Culture

14 Forgiveness as a Choice

15 Forgiveness as Letting Go

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18 The Movie: Invictus

19 The Movie Invictus The Word Invictus Means: Unconquered Morgan Freeman plays Nelson Mandela Tense moment early in the movie: Where Mandela’s head of security questions the arrival of the previous white president’s bodyquards as back up staff

20 “Not long ago these guys tried to kill us” Mandela’s replies : “Yes, I know, forgiveness starts here. Forgiveness liberates the soul. It removes fear. That is why it is such a powerful weapon”

21 Forgiveness in Music Don Henley’s : Heart of the Matter Rebecca Lynn Howard: Forgive The Dixie Chicks: Not Ready to Make Nice

22 Forgiveness In Politics President Bill Clinton Sought Forgiveness Three Times

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24 Forgiveness In Politics: Connecticut

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26 New Books

27 Forgiveness is Everywhere

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29 Why is Forgiveness Important?

30 Forgiveness as A Universal Human Concept Forgiveness is found in every major religious creed worldwide Even though forgiveness is a universal concept, it remain a very difficult process for human beings Why Have I invested my time in forgiveness? Some people think that some horrific violations are impossible to forgive

31 Nidal Malik Hasan - Fort Hood gunman

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35 Omar Thornton Killed 8 at Hartford Distributors in Manchester CT Hannah

36 U.S. Society & Forgiveness Are We Currently a Forgiving Society in America after 9/11?

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39 How Many of You are prepared to Forgive Osama bin Laden ?

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41 Forgiveness: What it is NOT Pardoning Pardoning Excusing Excusing Forgetting Forgetting Denying Denying Condoning Condoning Reconciling Reconciling Seeking justice or compensation Seeking justice or compensation Having an attitude of superiority / righteousness Having an attitude of superiority / righteousness Denying anger, hurt, rage, and pain Denying anger, hurt, rage, and pain Ceasing to be angry Ceasing to be angry Feeling better Feeling better

42 Forgiveness: What it IS: Choice or a decision Choice or a decision Letting go of anger and pain Letting go of anger and pain Act of courage Act of courage Not being determined by the past Not being determined by the past Working with emotions Working with emotions A new attitude A new attitude Perceptual changes Perceptual changes A process A process Positive power Positive power A gift A gift Spiritual deepening Spiritual deepening A transcendent act A transcendent act A way of life A way of life Redemptive Redemptive

43 Forgiveness Definitions: I found 10 definitions in the literature 1. A willingness to abandon one’s right to resentment, negative judgment, and indifferent behavior toward one who unjustly injured us, while fostering the undeserved quality of compassion, generosity, and even love toward him or her (Enright, Freeman, Rique, 1998).

44 2. The adaptive framing of a seeming mistreatment or transgression such that one is no longer constrained by a negative attachment to it (Thompson & Snyder, 2000). Forgiveness Definitions (cont'd)

45 3. To give up the right to legitimate anger and hurt and to let go of the negative attachment to the hurt and to show compassion, care, love, to the person who has hurt us (Snyder et al., 2000).

46 Forgiveness Definitions (cont'd) 4. The replacement of negative emotions by positive other-oriented emotions (such as empathy, sympathy, compassion, agape love, or even romantic love) (Worthington, 2001).

47 Common Themes With The Definitions 1. Letting go of anger, hurt, loss, & resentment. 2. Redefining the violation through a perceptual shift in understanding the person/event that hurt us. 3. Replacing the negative emotions with positive ones as it relates to the offender (empathy, care, objectivity, compassion, even love).

48 Problems With Forgiving Contradictory, paradoxical, difficult, confusing, emotionally upsetting People’s reaction to what I am presenting here today are usually polarized

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51 Forgive Lyrics Rebecca Lynn Howard A Misunderstanding of What Forgiveness is: “You know what they say [say say] Forgive and forget Relive and regret!”

52 I always said that'd be it That I wouldn't stick around if it ever came to this Here I am, so confused How am I supposed to leave when I can't even move? In the time it would have took to say "honey I'm home, how was your day?" You dropped the bomb right where we live And just expect me to forgive...

53 Chorus: Oh, that's a mighty big word for such a small man And I'm not sure I can Cause I don't even know now who I am It's too soon for me to say...forgive

54 I should ask but I won't Was it love or just her touch? Cause I don't think I wanna know So get you some things And get out (Get out)

55 Don't call me for a day or two So I can sort this out Well you might as well have ripped the life right out of me Right here tonight And through the fallin' tears you said "Can you ever just forgive?"

56 Oh, hey, that's a mighty big word for such a small man And I'm not sure I can Cause I don't even know now who I am It's too soon for me to say...forgive

57 You know what they say [say say] Forgive and forget Relive and regret Hey

58 Forgive... Well, that's a mighty big word for such a small man And I'm not sure I can Cause I don't even know now who I am. It’s too soon for me to say: Forgive Oh...it's too soon for me to say “FORGIVE”

59 Forgiveness Workshop At UCONN in 2003

60 Forgiveness Skills Workshop We did 5 evaluations during after the workshop, including a 1 month follow-up. We did 5 evaluations during after the workshop, including a 1 month follow-up. Results: Results: 25% Didn’t get anything out of workshop 25% Didn’t get anything out of workshop 75% Got much out of workshop. 75% Got much out of workshop. Why do you think that 25% got little out of the workshop?

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63 Holding on to Anger: Why Do People Do It ? To keep themselves in the victim role To keep themselves in the victim role To avoid feelings that are underneath the anger To avoid feelings that are underneath the anger Avoid taking responsibility for their present life Avoid taking responsibility for their present life To feel safe or protect themselves To feel safe or protect themselves To Get things done To Get things done To feel powerful and in control To feel powerful and in control To control others To control others To avoid communication To avoid communication To show they are right To show they are right To make others feel guilty To make others feel guilty To hold on to a relationship To hold on to a relationship

64 Misunderstanding what forgiveness is Misunderstanding what forgiveness is Thinking that forgiving is a sign of weakness Thinking that forgiving is a sign of weakness Mahatma Gandhi: “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is an Mahatma Gandhi: “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong.” attribute of the strong.” Fearing that the offence (and hurt) will be repeated and making oneself vulnerable to being hurt again Fearing that the offence (and hurt) will be repeated and making oneself vulnerable to being hurt again Believing that justice will not be served – Pardoning a debt violates standards of justice and is morally incorrect Believing that justice will not be served – Pardoning a debt violates standards of justice and is morally incorrect Losing rewards of victim status Losing rewards of victim status What Keeps People from Forgiving?

65 Self discipline Self discipline Emotional control Emotional control Emotional awareness and intelligence Emotional awareness and intelligence Instinctual restraint Instinctual restraint Capacity for perceptual shifts Capacity for perceptual shifts Desire to live in the here and now Desire to live in the here and now Telling the truth Telling the truth Awareness of one's personality defenses Awareness of one's personality defenses Quest for positive emotions Quest for positive emotions Heightened sense of morality Heightened sense of morality Contextual sensitivity Contextual sensitivity Compassion Compassion Empathy Empathy Capacity to forgive self Capacity to forgive self Psychological Qualities Needed for Forgiveness (How Many of these Do You Have?) Psychological Qualities Needed for Forgiveness (How Many of these Do You Have?)

66 Research Is Beginning to Document the Positive Effects of Forgiveness

67 Benefits of Forgiveness Decreases anger, depression, and anxiety Decreases anger, depression, and anxiety Increases self-esteem, self-control, and emotional stability Increases self-esteem, self-control, and emotional stability Strengthens relationships Strengthens relationships Reduces fear and guilt in life Reduces fear and guilt in life Improves emotional and physical health Improves emotional and physical health Increases inner peace Increases inner peace

68 Phases of Forgiveness* Phase 1: Uncovering Your Anger and Other Emotions: Internal-Emotional Processes Phase 1: Uncovering Your Anger and Other Emotions: Internal-Emotional Processes Phase 2: Deciding to Forgive: Focus on Self Phase 2: Deciding to Forgive: Focus on Self Phase 3: Working on Forgiveness: Focus on Self and the Offender Phase 3: Working on Forgiveness: Focus on Self and the Offender Phase 4: Deepening – Discovery: Release from Emotional Prison Phase 4: Deepening – Discovery: Release from Emotional Prison * Taken from Enright (2001) & Enright & Fitzgibbons (2000), but revised / expanded using literature by James M. O’Neil, University of Connecticut.

69 Working Through the Phases Is Difficult Contradictory, paradoxical, difficult, confusing, lonely, an experience in loss and vulnerability, emotionally upsetting, feelings of weakness, dealing with anger, and eventually HEALING AND TRANSFORMATION

70 The Heart Of The Matter Lyrics » Don HenleyDon Henley

71 I got the call today, I didn't wanna hear But I knew that it would come An old true friend of ours was talkin' on the phone, She said you found someone And I thought of all the bad luck, And the struggles we went through And how I lost me and you lost you What are these voices outside love's open door Make us throw off our contentment And beg for something more?

72 I'm learning to live without you now But I miss you sometimes The more I know, the less I understand All the things I thought I knew, I'm learning again I've been tryin' to get down to the Heart of the Matter But my will gets weak And my thoughts seem to scatter But I think it's about forgiveness Forgiveness Even if, even if you don't love me anymore

73 T hese times are so uncertain There's a yearning undefined...People filled with rage We all need a little tenderness How can love survive in such a graceless age The trust and self-assurance that can lead to happiness They're the very things we kill, I guess Pride and competition cannot fill these empty arms And the work I put between us, Doesn't keep me warm

74 I'm learning to live without you now But I miss you, Baby The more I know, the less I understand All the things I thought I figured out, I have to learn again I've been tryin' to get down to the Heart of the Matter But everything changes And my friends seem to scatter But I think it's about forgiveness Forgiveness Even if, even if you don't love me anymore

75 There are people in your life who've come and gone They let you down and hurt your pride Better put it all behind you; life goes on You keep carrin' that anger, it'll eat you inside

76 I've been tryin' to get down to the Heart of the Matter But my will gets weak And my thoughts seem to scatter But I think it's about forgiveness Forgiveness Even if, even if you don't love me anymore

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78 I've been tryin' to get down to the Heart of the Matter Because the flesh will get weak And the ashes will scatter So I'm thinkin' about forgiveness Forgiveness Even if, even if you don't love me anymore

79 21-Step Process of Forgiveness 1. Recognize that forgiveness is about a person changing themselves cognitively, emotionally, and behaviorally. 2. Recognize that the forgiveness process is hard, takes time, is ambiguous, and sometimes paradoxical. 3. Have a clear definition of forgiveness. 4. Take responsibility for one’s own emotional feelings. 5. Forgive self, if necessary, before forgiving others.

80 6. Recognize that the old ways of resolving the negative emotions are not working. 7. Know the costs of the pain from keeping the negative emotions. 8. Seek new ways of resolving unfinished emotional business. 9. Commit to the forgiveness process. 10. Evaluate and alter rigid personal rules for how people should behave. 21-Step Process of Forgiveness

81 11. Work toward understanding. a. Reframe the injury. b. Increase contextual understanding of offender and situation. c. Recall hurtful event as objectively as possible. d. Understand the hurtful event from the other’s point of view or at least from a neutral viewpoint. 12. Change the grievance story to reflect the need to heal. 21-Step Process of Forgiveness

82 13. Release the pain, anger, hurt, and need for revenge. (But How? : any way possible) 14. Move away from blame to acceptance of the injustice. 15. Stop rehearsing the hurt and holding the grudge. 16. Empathize with the offender – show compassion. This may be hard and difficult. 17. Create careful strategies for attitudinal or behavioral forgiveness.

83 21-Step Process of Forgiveness 18. Talk through the strategies with a wise friend or therapist. 19. Do it! 20. Commit publicly to the forgiveness process. 21. Discover the meaning of suffering and the positive outcomes for forgiving.

84 An Example of Forgiveness The Movie “About Schmidt”: Warren is definitely on the wounded person cycle Burned out insurance agent in Omaha, Nebraska Retires and his wife suddenly dies Find her love letters to Warren’s best friend Warren has a pen pal relationship with an orphan in Africa.

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87 Summary: Approaches to Forgiveness 1. Uncovering the anger & using it positively. 2. Generating more information about the person that hurt you & the situation. 3. Developing new context & perceptual shifts to understand your pain. 4. Knowing how your thoughts / feelings have been distorted in the areas of trust, self-esteem, power / control, intimacy, & safety.

88 Approaches to Forgiveness 5. Changing the grievance story. 6. Stopping the rehearsal of the injury. 7. Breaking the bond with the anger.

89 How Can You Work on Forgiveness ? Journaling, writing, expressing the pain positively Journaling, writing, expressing the pain positively Investigating your thoughts, feelings, and defenses; Investigating your thoughts, feelings, and defenses; Investigate and revisit the person that hurt you and the situation Investigate and revisit the person that hurt you and the situation Stop the blame and begin to reframe the hurt Stop the blame and begin to reframe the hurt

90 Use external resources (support groups, therapy, self-help books, wise friends and mentors). Use external resources (support groups, therapy, self-help books, wise friends and mentors). Use prayer, meditation, and other spiritual resources Use prayer, meditation, and other spiritual resources Explore strategies to do forgiveness Explore strategies to do forgiveness Create metaphors for healing Create metaphors for healing Implementing Forgiveness

91 Assignment: Forgiveness Reflection Describe how this person hurt you. Describe how this person hurt you. What feelings or thoughts are unresolved related to your hurt? What feelings or thoughts are unresolved related to your hurt? Is forgiveness a possibility for you now? Is forgiveness a possibility for you now? If yes, explain how. If yes, explain how. If no, explain what is in the way. If no, explain what is in the way. Describe your reaction to this exercise and the lecture on forgiveness. Describe your reaction to this exercise and the lecture on forgiveness.

92 I hope this information helps you personally or the people you serve in your life! Thanks, Warmly Jim One of my son’s drawings

93 Forgiveness: A Bold Choice Contexts for forgiveness Contexts for forgiveness Definitions of forgiveness Definitions of forgiveness What forgiveness is and is not What forgiveness is and is not Personality qualities of those who forgive Personality qualities of those who forgive Process of forgiveness Process of forgiveness My own forgiveness process and yours too My own forgiveness process and yours too

94 One of Kirill’s Paintings


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