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Can Forgiveness Heal Your Soul?

Can Forgiveness Heal Your Soul?

Forgiveness can be a confusing concept. Welcome to the club. It is not exclusive. The membership has been prepaid by millions of folks before our current “How do I” submission is ever communicated. Here is what I have learned.

Forgiveness doesn’t change the story of the past, but it will change the perception of that story, further changing how you process it, which leads ultimately in changing how you tell it. Forgiveness becomes the connect-the-dots formula that heals the body, refreshes the mind, and encourages the soul. This loving practice turns our future into one worth looking forward to.

Ever desire to move on but struggle with just how this is accomplished? On one hand, the inclination to justify an uncomfortable emotion and consequently hold on to the behavior that follows is a pretty strong one to resist. It is commonly called “payback,” and it is normal. What on Earth do you do when feelings occur because in some way, you acknowledge that you have been unjustly treated? The reaction to this can lead us into a negative set of patterns if we aren’t mindful of how destructive it can be.

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Now, on the other hand we find ourselves with a desire to remove the very thing that is causing the emotional pain that we have determined is holding us back. No, not the source. That would be scandalous. We could find ourselves in front of a tribunal explaining why the person went missing. What I’m talking about is removing the knot inside us that is giving us an ongoing stomach ache.

Why Not Just Forget It?

Forgiveness is not predicated on forgetting. We cannot delete an experience however painful it may be. If you are like me, the wish is that you could. Forgiveness has everything to do with letting go of any claim that we carry to be compensated for the hurt or loss that we have suffered. Forgiveness is a radical approach to healing.

Robert Enright, a Catholic Psychologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, developed something called “The Enright Forgiveness Inventory” which is fairly detailed. A pdf for your review can be found here. In it, he gives a list of exercises that claim to benefit the psychological component that affects the heart.

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I have a simpler approach. The examination of one word: imperfection.

Consider that we all at one time or another have caused some degree of hurt. Excluding toddlers (because those little beans haven’t developed fully yet) we can summize that this is true. Is it that difficult to provide an opportunity for others to as well?

Once that reality is reached it becomes less about specific and more about degree. What measurement on our scale does the degree of unjust read? The specific action is just a side note. What becomes important is how the level of intensity causes us to feel about it.

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Relational or Situational

Is it relational or situational? Let me explain. While both test our ability to choose an appropriate reaction, only one has a longer shelf life.

Relational deals commonly with individuals and groups. A one-on-one you might say, where things are said or done that solicit a gasp, or in a group when someone is called out — typically in a not-so-nice way. Either way, you’re left down-right astonished.

Situational deals with your surroundings or environment. Say you lose your house in a fire, and arson is the cause. Yes, forgiveness is complicated.

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Relationships are our common thread. We cannot get through our day to day without them — unless of course, you are a recluse. This by choice has an entirely different structure altogether. I am not judging here; it just isn’t, for me, a preferred lifestyle.

Forgiveness in a relationship stems from what we are willing to accept. The wisdom here is that upon forgiving, we no longer put ourselves in that position again to experience what we have come to forgive. Read it again: it makes sense.

Forgiveness is a state of mind. Each one of us has a unique value that if stepped on unconsciously or otherwise will create resentment. Forgiveness must be a focused attention followed by deliberate action. Forgiveness becomes a precious gift you give to yourself. Forgiveness is freedom.

This Is Hard Work but It’s Not Impossible

This takes patience, practice, and persistence, but I assure you that forgiveness can relieve stress, create peace and — oh yeah — keep you out of a really bad revenge trend. As difficult at times as it can be, looking at the larger picture of life through the lens of love and kindness does in fact cleanse and nurture the soul. I encourage you all to give this a try. There is a reason the “Golden Rule” is a great living philosophy. It works.

Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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andre lewis

Former Inside Operations Supervisor UPS

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

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