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What Psychologists Say About Forgiveness

By: Rana Rayhan

The power of forgiveness: Psychologists advice

Imagine you are talking to a psychologist and he asked you how long did it take to close that hole in your chest? How often did you have to mend that broken heart? Earlier this month I posted on my personal account a quote about forgiveness and rendered it a title from my previous article: Forgive them even if they are not sorry. A dear friend of mine then dropped a comment that made my heart sink: “They will break your heart dear.”  To be honest, I took a moment digesting the words and recalling how many times I have been there; experiencing heart breaks from different people surrounding me and many whom I did no harm to but have shown love, care and sometimes a helping hand. I had to brush the thought off and I replied to her comment with the phrase I strongly believed in: “It’s not about them but about you. You forgive so you can be free.” 

 A year ago, I had to face strong heart breaking incidents from many loved ones, and I assure you I was not pro the above words I used for defense. The pain was too much to let go of and it seemed to me that holding grudge is part of my right to protect my broken heart. Unaware of the consequences, I carried it on for a month or two and it started wearing me off; my body got tired, my mind went out playing back the scenarios that led to that heart break and eventually to retaliation, I felt unhappy even with the biggest gifts of my life; my husband, my children, my health and my parents whom all bring joy to my life. Then I realized, this has got to stop and I have to pin down that grudge and call for cure. I had to create the turning point of my life that will make me happy, so I started with this big question:
what psychologists say about forgiveness

“Are they feeling my pain now and sorry for what they have caused me?”
Perhaps Yes, perhaps No but how can I get a definite answer to that? Coming to my senses I gave myself the reply that would help me move on “I may never know.” I took another step forward and remembered Maya Angelou’s quote "If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude."  Going back to my dear friend’s phrase They will break your heart dear.”  I continued interrogating myself “Even if I survived this, what will I do next time I face a heart break?”  Finally, my heart answered that for me “Don’t allow it to happen again.” 
Henceforth, yes I will face other heart breaks and who knows how many of them I will have to encounter? But my attitude towards them is what will count! And the continuity of that attitude will be my survival rope! Now one year had passed and many previous years with their heart aches included in every chapter of my earlier life, what did I decided to do with that book? I closed it, placed it on a shelf for future reference. How did I make it today? Every time, I face a similar situation I would  just have to give myself the pep-talk of “You have survived all of that and it has made you stronger. If you did face that back then, you can do it now with a little help of the experiences you have collected. Just review your book!”

   How can we prevent a heart break, asking a psychologist? I have included below 8 points out of my personal experiences and added 4 more by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer :

1.   Decide who you open to, but keep a safety net.
Social people, like me, enjoy the company of others and like to talk in every possible topic. However, people being judgmental, they can create a false impression about you and might deal with you accordingly. So you become offended and for relations that took a while to build, you might land on a heart break for nothing substantial you have done. A remedy to that is practicing effective listening rather than speaking. Hear from people at the beginning, know when to engage in a conversation, be in tune and wisely select a topic(s) you love to talk about but make sure to be in context and preferably in brief until you are invited for elaboration.

       2. Lower your expectations or expect nothing at all

Expectation is the root of all heartache. – William Shakespeare. The less you expect from others the less disappointment you will have to bear. Train yourself to forgiveness. Therefore, expect nothing from no one and even if you did have preset expectations, make sure they are reasonable and doable ones. Even then, allow yourself to forgive the lack of commitment. Check point #3

       3. Remember that no one is flawless…we all trip sometimes

No one is perfect and we are all allowed to make mistakes from which we all enrich our learning experiences. Before allowing yourself to feel the pain inflected on you by others, try to give people the benefit of the doubt. Our emotional intelligence rates are not equal. Maybe it was not intended to personally hit you. Everyone is allowed to have a second chance yet know when they have consumed more than enough; that will be the time you have to draw the line (point #5) and define how you will take that relation from there.
      4. Those who insist one hurting you are the weak party.
I found this smart answer by Shruti Singh on : There are many reasons for people hurting other. But in my opinion these points are seen in most of the cases- 
1. Sometimes unknowingly.
2. Out of jealousy.
3. To take revenge.
4. Out of anger.”
According to Paul Hudson in his marvelous article 15 things that emotionally strong people don’t do, and 20 things that mentally strong people don’t do strong people don’t hold grudges or get jealous over the success of others. Conclusion, strong people do not hurt others; they lift them up when they are down. Just remember that. 

       5. Draw the line…You deserve respect.

Set up your own standards in life and make it clear for everyone surrounding you. Psychologists say this easily can be done by walking the talk; be a role model for everything you believe in and that way you will attract your own tribe. Only those you want in your life will be in, while those who you just have to deal with will be outside the circle and have limited accessibility to your heart and mind. Read also: Sometimes you need to say “No”! 
       6. Know your resources…How they make you stronger.
A huge strength generator is being aware of what you are and what you are not. When you establish that and embrace it, you will be able to logic if an offense is personal or unintentional and the key to your heart and mind will be in your hand. Given that, the possibility of heartbreak will come down to zero.  
7. Unplug every now and then.

Refrain from negative environments. Some places, people and even conversations are not healthy for you. You end up drained at the high or even feeling unpleasant at the low. And trying to change that may cause consumption of your positive energy. So know when to unplug and divert the energy you have towards someone you love and/or something useful. Yet stay connected with the ones who really matter to you, the ones you wish to continue having in your life, while considering point #5.

8.   Find something you love and do it. 

Replenish your rock. You are a diamond in the rough but only a true treasure hunter will see that; those who don’t, have no experience with diamonds. The more you master a skill the more confidence you will gain in your ability, eventually you will level up your self-esteem and find it hard to accept everything thrown on you out of grudge.

       9. Stop Looking for Occasions to Be Offended
When you live at or below ordinary levels of awareness, you spend a great deal of time and energy finding opportunities to be offended. Let it be a news report, a rude person, someone cursing, a post on Facebook —just about anything will do if you’re looking for an occasion to be offended. Become a person who refuses to be offended by any one, anything, or any set of circumstances. (Dr. Wayne W. Dyer)

10. Don’t Live In the Past – Be Present

Psychologists say when we live with a broken heart we find it difficult to forgive, often it is because we are not living in the present, and instead, we assign more importance to the past. We assign a good portion of our energy and attention lamenting the good old days that are gone forever as the reason why we can’t be happy and fulfilled today. “Everything has changed,” “No one respects anyone else like they used to…” This is assigning responsibility to the past for why you can’t be happy today.
It’s doubtful that other creatures waste the present moment in thoughts of past and future. A beaver only does beaver, and he does it right in the moment. He doesn’t spend his days ruminating over the fact that his beaver siblings/friends/colleagues received more attention. He’s always in the now. We can learn much from God’s creatures about enjoying the present moment rather than using it up consumed with anger over the past or worry about the future. Practice living in the moment by appreciating the beauty around you now. (Dr. Wayne W. Dyer)

11.  Refrain from Judgment 

 When you stop judging and simply become an observer, you will know inner peace and forgiveness becomes easier. With that sense of inner peace, you’ll find yourself happier and free of the negative energy of resentment. A bonus is that you’ll find that others are much more attracted to you. A peaceful person attracts peaceful energy.
If I’m to be a being of love living from my highest self that means that love is all I have inside of me and all that I have to give away. If someone I love chooses to be something other than what my ego would prefer, I must send them the ingredients of my highest self, which is love. (Dr. Wayne W. Dyer)
So, criticism and condemnation of the thoughts, feelings, and behavior of others—regardless of how right and moral our human selves convince us, it is implying perfection. Only God is perfect and He created imperfect humans in many unique ways for us to complete one another. Yet if I want to perfect my own world, then I must substitute love for these judgments.

12. Send Love

I spent years studying the teachings of Patanjali, and he reminded us several thousand years ago that when we are steadfast—which means that we never slip in our abstention of thoughts of harm directed toward others—then all living creatures cease to feel enmity in our presence.
Now I know that we are all human: you, me, all of us. We do occasionally slip and retreat from our highest self into judgment, criticism, and condemnation, but this is not a rationale for choosing to practice that kind of interaction. I can only tell you that when I finally got it, and I sent only love to another person of whom I had been judging and criticizing, I got the immediate result of inner contentment. Read also: How to Love Yourself Again?
I urge you to send love in place of those judgments and criticisms to others when you feel they impede your joy and happiness, and hold them in that place of love. Notice that if you stay steadfast, when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

A Meditation to End on Love

Picture yourself at the termination of a quarrel or major dispute. Rather than reacting with old patterns of residual anger, revenge, and hurt, visualize offering kindness, love, and forgiveness.
Do this right now by sending out these “true virtue” thoughts to any resentment you’re currently carrying. Make this your standard response to any future altercations: I end on love, no matter what! (Dr. Wayne W. Dyer). Finally remember psychologists advice that forgiveness sets you free. Read also: The 40 Rules of Love: A novel of Rumi

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