THE MAGIC OF FORGIVENESS By Lenore Millian, Ph.D.

What does forgiveness have to do with good health and a good marriage?

When we think that an injustice has been done to us and we’ve been vulnerable and hurt…what are we to do?  However, holding onto revenge and anger has a very real effect on our immune system.  We become more vulnerable to many types of diseases because these vengeful thoughts translate into stress responses.  This may result in them becoming the underlying factors in many psychosomatic and bodily illnesses.  Research supports this repeatedly…our general health is affected by holding onto vindictive thoughts…whether you are the revenge taker, or the revenge receiver.  Both ways, you are on the losing end.

Forgiveness is the process of letting go of the past and opening  to the future.  It is a way of releasing ourselves from the pain we have experienced at the hands of others.

Forgiveness is something we do for ourselves…it helps us to become free from the pain and anger we feel.  It is truly a GIFT TO OURSELVES.  Forgiving the person at whom you are angry releases you from the very transgression that was done to you.

Forgiveness can free us from all the entanglements of the past.  It helps us to let go of the negative feelings, and gives us a sense of control over our lives.  This anger that we tend to hold onto can tighten around our necks like a noose and prevent us from moving on with our lives.

Sometimes, we as marriage partners, commit an act against one another which is the discovery that your husband/wife is having an affair.  It is rightfully perceived as the ultimate of betrayals and the harbinger of divorce.  How does one get past this hurt…how is trust ever to be had in such a marriage?  Would you be willing to give up what you HAD because his/her betrayal rendered your marriage into a charade?

In her book on anger, Carol Travis talks about forgiveness in 5 basic steps:

1.  Remembering in detail what happened, how it made us feel, understanding the other person and hearing what they thought happened and how they experienced it.

2. After forgiveness comes reconciliation.  Reconciliation is the HIGHEST POINT OF HEALING.  With reconciliation, one has to eliminate old patterns and create a basis for healthy emotional interaction.

3. Please refer at this time to the “Techniques for Achieving Forgiveness” below.

4. Remember: Divorce is easy…achieving marital reconciliation and the subsequent forgiveness is a struggle…but well worth it.

TECHNIQUES: PROBLEM RESOLUTION

& SUBSEQUENT  FORGIVENESS

1. Ask yourself what forgiveness means to you.

2. Ask yourself what forgiving the other person means to you.

3. Ask yourself what you could have done differently to prevent the conflict from arising in the first place.

4. Ask yourself what your expectations of the other person are.

5. Using role reversal, ask yourself to become the other person, and say what you think the other person feels or thinks.

6. Set an empty chair in front of you and imagine that the other person has died, and that their spirit is in the chair.  What do you want to say to that other person’s spirit?

7. Give yourself permission to speak of your anger, pain, and rage.  Realize that these feelings are normal.

8. Ask yourself to write down the strongest reason why you cannot forgive the other person.  Write down that sentence over and over until you become bored with it or until an idea occurs of how you can overcome this obstacle.

9. Make up a story of how it would feel to you if you were to forgive the other person.  Contrast that to how you presently feel and the cost of non-forgiveness.

10. Ask yourself what it would take to forgive the other person, and why.

11. First, visualize and then create a ceremony or ritual to complete the healing process, eg. shaking hands, kissing, writing a forgiveness poem to the other person.

12. Visualize hateful, unforgiving thoughts in a brick-tied bottle floating out to sea.

13. Write a letter to the person with whom you are angry…don’t mail.

14. Visualize how wonderful it would feel to have peace and love in your heart instead of all-consuming anger and resentment.

15. Make the decision to forgive.  Enjoy the release and the happiness that comes from forgiving.

The Second Wives Club book cover

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