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Stop the Madness: Four Keys to help you Forgive

Stop the Madness: Four Keys to help you Forgive

Anger. Fear. Hostility. Bitterness. Rage. Resentment. Have you ever felt any of these emotions toward someone; maybe even someone you love? These angry feelings are called “hot” emotions, and they fuel an unforgiving spirit.

When we’re hurt, our angry our feelings don’t go away overnight. In fact, we can spend days, weeks, months, even years turning them over and over in our minds, feeling just as angry as the moment the offense that caused them occurred.

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Who the heck wants to live like this? It only causes stress, high blood pressure and a whole host of other problems. If you’ve ever been boiling mad at someone and still feel the fire at the mention of his or her name, you may want to consider the “F” word—forgiveness.

Sounds great, but how do we go about forgiving someone who has mortally wounded us? Well, for starters we don’t bury it, we don’t ignore it, thinking in time that it will go away, and we certainly shouldn’t minimize our pain or pretend it didn’t hurt us.

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Before we look at how to forgive, let’s talk about what forgiveness is and isn’t. Forgiveness is a means of release for the person holding the debt; that would be you. Forgiveness is for your benefit, but it isn’t saying that what the other person did was ok.

What can we do to stop the madness of ruminating angry thoughts and walk the healing path? Here are some tips to help move you along on the forgiveness journey:

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Make a list

The first step in forgiveness is to take an account of the offense. Take a piece of paper and make three columns. Write the offenders name at the top of the page. In the first column, write down the event that happened that made you angry. In the second, write down how you felt about it and what you came to believe about yourself as a result of the other person’s offense. In the last column, write down what you had hoped for or expected from that person. This will translate into your loss. Here’s an example: Event: your husband was unfaithful. Feelings: anger, hurt, rejection. Beliefs: I’m not good enough. I’m unlovable. Loss: betrayal, identity, self-esteem, hope. Then decide if you can allow God to meet the needs you lost through this transgression. Can you trust him as your security, adequacy and value? Pray a prayer of forgiveness releasing the person from the debt owed you.

Stop ruminating

Pay attention to what you’re telling yourself. Rumination creates more anxiety and depression and there is no life there. Turning things over and over in your mind only keeps you stuck. Choose to intentionally focus on the Scriptural truths about forgiveness.

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Take a risk

Just because you don’t feel like forgiving doesn’t mean you can’t do it. The truth is you will never feel like it. The question is what is the best response you can make to address the hurts and losses you will incur in life? The answer is to give the altruistic gift of forgiveness. Risking forgiving someone who has hurt you can remove a huge weight off your shoulders and probably add a few years to your life too.Medical studies have found that people who have forgiven others for a major transgression have lower blood pressure and heart rates when compared to those who have not.

Restoration is different than reconciliation

Reconciliation takes two people, you and the person who offended you. When the offender comes to you, the offended, you have to decide if you will grant forgiveness. That doesn’t necessarily mean you want to be restored in relationship with this person. Restoration means you and the other person mutually decide what the nature of the relationship will be as you move forward. Boundaries may need to be drawn or the relationship may need to be terminated.

Angry feelings won’t go away overnight. Forgiveness starts with a decision of the will but is born out in the emotions. Once you’ve decided to forgive the offender, focus on the virtues of love, empathy and compassion as a means to develop emotional forgiveness. Allow yourself time and space, but remember forgiveness is for your benefit. Start today and give the altruistic gift of forgiveness.
Back at you: Have you ever forgiven someone? If so, what were the long-term benefits? If not, what’s hindering you?

More by this author

Rita Schulte LPC

Licensed Professional Counselor

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The Gentle Art of Saying No

The Gentle Art of Saying No

No!

It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

  1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
  2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
  3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
  4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
  5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
  6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
  7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
  8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
  9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
  10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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