We are coming up on the end of our course with last night’s session being the seventh of eight. All the past weeks’ material on correct thinking and breaking the tyranny of negative core beliefs came together for us in a discussion of compassion — compassion towards others and to ourselves.
The facilitators instructed us that letting anger, resentment, and guilt have hold over us results in real and dangerous effects on the body: muscle tension, headaches, high blood pressure and heart problems, to name a few. The way to overcome these feelings is to apply compassion to others and to ourselves. The facilitators defined compassion as “a way of thinking that allows for understanding, acceptance, and forgiveness in response to disappointing or upsetting situations.”
I would never have thought of compassion as a skill to be learned.
Understanding, one component in compassionate thinking, is merely for one to be aware of why something may have happened the way it did. For example, that person who snapped at you this morning may have done so because of something that has happened to him or her. Having this insight may help take some of the sting out how that person’s behavior affected you.
The next component is acceptance. This is the acknowledgement “of the facts of a situation without judgement.” After becoming aware of the reasons why that person snapped at you this morning, you can reach a point of acceptance which results in your being able to move beyond the hurt that person caused you.
The final and most important component of compassionate thinking is forgiveness. Forgiveness is the continual release of all anger and resentment towards a person who has injured us in some way. I use the word “continual” because forgiveness is a process that may need to be repeated.
Forgiveness is also releasing any guilt or regret that you may have towards something you have done to yourself or others. If you have hurt another, you may need to make amends to that person before you can release that guilt.
One thing to remember about the act of forgiveness is in forgiving someone, you are not condoning, nor forgetting, what that person has done. When you forgive, you are doing it for yourself. You are releasing the negative emotions so that those emotions have no more control over you. You gain peace of mind and empowerment.
This last part resonated with me. When someone hurts me, I feel like a victim and that I have lost some control over my life. I have the perception that if I hold on to my anger and resentment, I have somehow maintained a bit of control over my life. This is a misperception. I am actually exercising real power and autonomy when I choose to let go. This is true freedom.
Someone made a statement last night that sums up the concept of forgiveness: “Forgiveness is freeing ourselves from the past we should have had.”
Until next week…..