The F-Word You Need to Use

By Chloe JonPaul, M.Ed.

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Anger may be affecting your life so the next logical step is to check out where you stand on forgiveness.  Yes, that’s the F-word you must learn to put into practice. We forgive – not necessarily because that person deserves to be forgiven – but because it frees us up. In essence, you are taking back your power.

When we hold on to some resentment, grudge, or hatred toward someone, we are actually empowering them. It certainly isn’t bothering that person. As Dale Carnegie once said: “Our enemies would dance with joy if they knew how they were worrying us…” (taken from QuoteDB.com.)

Experts tell us that the inability to forgive is a serious self-transgression because it exists solely in the self and doesn’t impact at all on the other person for whom it is intended. Dwelling on past hurts simply does not benefit you in the present.

Learning to forgive isn’t easy but seeking revenge still identifies you as the victim. Process your anger or your grief so that you can be more receptive to the act of forgiving. Being able to forgive requires courage and compassion. It may help to read inspirational stories of forgiveness or log on to a web site that focuses on forgiveness. You may need the help of a therapist but just remember this: forgiveness is for you. As long as you hold on to the pain, you remain bitter. Letting go will make you better.

Now you might say: “Well, I can forgive but I can’t forget.” It is true that forgiveness doesn’t obliterate what happened. Remembering the hurt has us believe that we can build a protective wall around ourselves to make sure that we don’t get hurt again. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work out that way. All we wind up doing is adding a thick, crusty layer of bitterness over a heart that longs to be free.

In the Lord’s Prayer, which is recited by Christians world-wide, we hear these words: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Those words offer food for thought – and action.

The Jewish tradition of atonement, Yom Kippur — the holiest day of the Jewish calendar — is a day of reflection to seek the forgiveness of God and others as well as coming to terms with the decision to forgive those who have caused harm or pain in one’s  life.

Forgiving Yourself

As you enter the Age of Elegance, there are probably moments when you look back on your life and wince with pain over some of the mistakes you’ve made – mistakes for which you haven’t forgiven yourself.

As a former lead facilitator for the Alternatives to Violence Project, an international conflict resolution program, I conducted prison and community workshops. One of the exercises in the AVP manual focuses on forgiveness of oneself.

There are four questions posed in this exercise:
  1. What would you have to give up in order to forgive yourself?
  2. What would you lose if you did?
  3. What blocks forgiveness for you?
  4. What could a friend say or do to help you find forgiveness?

You might try answering these questions in written form.

Another tool you might want to try is the 4R’s guideline that some relationship experts recommend:
  • Regret: Do you genuinely regret the action or hurt you’ve caused?
  • Repentance: Have you offered an apology?
  • Restitution: Did you try to find a way of making it up to that person?
  • Rehabilitation: Have you made an honest effort not to repeat the mistake again?

Consider this quote by Paul Boese, a well-known TV producer: “Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.”(taken from www.Quoteland.com).

Emotions Anonymous – It Really Does Exist!

Emotions Anonymous was founded in 1971 in St. Paul, MN. At present, there are over 1200 chapters in 38 countries. EA is not a medical or psychiatric service, nor does it provide counseling. Group meetings, which are online as well as at different locations, are held with a rotating leadership which facilitates the meetings.

EA is similar to Alcoholics Anonymous with a 12-step program. It also includes the 12 Traditions which are guidelines for members, concepts, the Serenity prayer, and EA literature. Weekly meetings, telephone and personal contacts are available.

This group emphasizes that it is not a sounding board for continually reviewing one’s miseries but a way to learn how to detach oneself from them. While it considers itself to be a spiritual program, it doesn’t advocate any particular belief system.

The 12 Steps do, however, suggest a belief in one’s higher Power. Religion, politics, national and international issues are not discussed. EA respects anonymity, aiming for an atmosphere of love and understanding.

The only requirement for membership is for one to commit to become emotionally healthy. For more information, visit their web site.

In addition to being a longtime member of the NABBW, a hospice and homeless shelter volunteer, world traveler and an advisory board member for the Maryland Dept. of Aging\’s Healthcare Commission and their Interagency Commission for Aging Services, Chloe Jon Paul, M.Ed., is a retired educator -turned-writer with four published books to her credit. Her first book, What Happens Next? A Family Guide to Nursing Home Visits… and More, was originally published in paperback, and is now available on Kindle. Subsequent books  include Entering the Age of Elegance,  a travel guide for Baby Boomer women, complete with curiosity-evoking subtitles as Change Your Oil Filter, The FGA Quotient, The F-Word You Need to Use, The 10 Commandments of Aging Motherhood, and Just Heard It through the Grapevine. Recently she\’s turned out  a novel, This Business of Children, and a children\’s book, The Girl Who did Not Like Her Name. Chloe is also a co-author with David Mezzapelle in his latest book, Contagious Optimism, and featured in Don McAuley’s book, 50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading.