Forgiveness

GROUP EXPECTATIONS: 

  • You are expected to attend consistently and to participate in a constructive manner.
  • Group runs 9:00 AM through 12:00PM, there are two 10 minute breaks.
  • Maintain Confidentiality. It is essential that everything said in group therapy is kept private by all group members and leaders. 
  • Be Respectful to the other Group Members.  Listen attentively, refrain from disruptive behavior, and tolerate differences in personal opinion and opposing value systems. 
  • No Cellphone Use.

Personal Affirmation. I AM…
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What goal are you focused on?
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How can you make this a SMART Goal?
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M - ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
A - _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
R - _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
T - _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

What has played out to date?
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Forgiveness Meditation

This Week's Character Strength Spotlight is on FOREGIVENESS

WHAT DOES FORGIVENESS MEAN TO YOU?
You forgive those who have done wrong. You accept that people make mistakes. Forgiveness is the ability to move past being injured, and allow yourself to reconcile with the person who hurt you. Forgiveness can often be seen as a selfless act, but it also carries many benefits for those who practice it. Those who demonstrate forgiveness have the ability to move forward after someone has hurt them. Forgiveness is often rooted in the idea that all people are valuable and worthy of a second chance. Many who forgive have the ability to consider things from another’s perspective. Forgiveness does not mean rolling over and allowing yourself to be harmed. It does not mean that you forget the transgression. By forgiving someone, you don’t have to say that what he/she did was okay. And, forgiveness is not contingent on the other person apologizing.

WHY SHOULD IT MATTER TO YOUR RECOVERY?
For individuals, forgiveness has benefits that range from increased health to developing positive relationships to coming to an understanding that no one is without fault. Remaining bitter and angry increases your stress levels, and forgiveness helps an individual release that resentment, and repair or strengthen his/her relationships. The ability to reconcile differences and move forward positively is a trait of any effective group. When people work together, conflict is inevitable. However, when people value each other’s contribution and believe in the group’s goal, they become more capable of moving past conflict toward genuinely positive behavior. A group member’s willingness to forgive imperfections of both other members and the group as a whole contribute to overall success. 


Nicole Tierney on Forgiveness…
I received so much advice from so many well-meaning people early in my journey. One of the most consistent and popular messages was to forgive myself. Let the past go. Focus on the future. All I wanted to do was change and find peace and so I set out to follow this advice of self-forgiveness. Moreover, honestly it made sense. It would also be a relief. I hated myself. I had done horrible, unspeakable, things which hurt the people I loved so very much. While I fully understand that substance use disorder is a disease, which has drastic effects on one’s brain and judgment, I could not reconcile the things I had done to hurt others.

So, I set out to master the task of self-forgiveness, acceptance, and love. But like chasing a butterfly the more diligently I pursued self-forgiveness, the more elusive it seemed. Because my default cognitive response is rumination, I became obsessed with self-forgiveness. I attended meetings, read dozens of books, completed steps, made apologies, changed, followed any and all advice about forgiving myself and letting go. None of it worked. Not even remotely. In fact, in some ways, the inability to forgive myself increased my self-hatred.

Here I was being told they key to recovery is forgiving oneself and I cannot even do that. I felt doomed to fail and was losing hope. I read books about forgiveness and acceptance and even decided to read the Bible cover to cover because I thought where better to lean about forgiveness. None of this searching shed light on how I could let go of my past. How could I forgive myself for hurting and disappointment so many people I loved and who loved me?

It was a dark night, I still was not allowed to see or speak to my children and my parents, who did their best not to show their disappointment and pain, but I could sense it. I felt so lonely. So afraid. I felt as though I would never again feel the love and respect of my family again, and frankly, I did not feel like I “deserved” it. I remember hating myself and realizing that if something did not change, I would likely repeat behaviors of my past. I did not think I could take another day trying to achieve the unachievable. I wept. I wept for the pain I had caused my children. I cried for the hurt my family endured. And for the first time, I cried tears for myself too. While the pain I caused others was atrocious, I destroyed myself during those years too. The proverbial scars from some things that happened to me during that period, some of the things I did, are still evident today. I could not stop crying. That night, ever so slightly I realized that my past was a part of me and always would be. There would be no magic wand of forgiveness and healing. There would be no successful blocking it out and focusing on the bright horizon. I had to learn to let the present, my past, and my hopes for the future occupy my brain and my heart compatibly. I still hated every single thing I did but I learned to appreciate all the results of my actions and not only focus on the bad that came from my past. Likely you just had to reread that’s sentence. I know it sounds counterintuitive, but in fact, out of the most horrible actions, came the most necessary, painful, yet beautiful growth.

There was no way to not acknowledge that who I was today was based on who I was yesterday. Balancing has never been (and likely will never be) a strong suit of mine. But I had to learn how to have who I was, who I am, and who I want to be peacefully coexists with all parts be accepted. There were days when too much of my brain and heart were filled with the negative parts of the past, and that was where the work needed to be completed. I needed to not to forgive myself for my past, but learn lessons, and use my past as motivation and a reality check at times. I needed to thank my past too. This realization about not having to forgive myself provided me so much peace, so much contentment. It has taken years, but I realized so slowly that self-love has to be unconditional and genuine. So, while I do not love what I did (in fact I still hate it) I love myself. All of myself and that includes the past.

What can you identify with from the Nicole Tierney passage?
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If you are willing to share, what are some things you are working on when it comes to
forgiving yourself? 

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What can you personally do today to work on self-forgiveness, letting go and increasing your ability to forgive and love yourself?‚Äč__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 

Answering the following statements: True or False.  Then explain why.

  • Forgiveness comes easy to me most of the time…
  • I can think of someone or something that I resent in my life right now…
  • Overall, for the most part I am a pretty loving person…
  • There are some good people in my life who have forgiven me…
  • I can be vengeful or vindictive…
  • I want people to suffer for what they’ve done to me…
  • I would rather just let it go when I feel myself holding on to anger for too long…
  • I am proud to say that I do have any enemies…
  • I sometimes obsess over my feelings when someone disappoints me…
  • I am willing to make personal sacrifices to keep peace with others…
  • I often cannot let it slide when someone insults me even if it was an accident…
  • I find it hard to resist arguing with others who say things I find offensive or ignorant…
  • I find that overall I am pretty tolerant and accepting of others…
  • I can readily accept it and move on when someone apologizes…
  • It is easy for me to apologize when I am wrong…
  • I need to work on resentment…
  • I need to work on forgiveness…

Forgiveness Exercise

Holding on to grudges and complaints sucks out our inner peace and prosperity. A beautiful positive psychology intervention that we can follow as a daily practice and imbibe into our personality is the art of forgiving. This exercise helps us to free ourselves from past resentments and focus on life in a brand new way. And the practice is uber simple.

  • Take a piece of paper and name a person and incident of the past that hurt you.
  • Beside that name, describe how the negative encounter shattered you. Try to name all the feelings you experienced in that phase (for example – sad, angry, insulted, hopeless, heartbroken, betrayed, hateful, and the like).
  • While you are scribbling about all the hurtful encounters, notice how those depressing feelings start coming back to you.
  • Now, close your eyes, take two deep breaths and relax for a few seconds.

Next, imagine the name on the list and in your heart, say ‘I forgive you’. Alternatively, if you were at fault, admit it and ask for their forgiveness. Notice how this exchange of forgiveness liberates you from the pent up grudges and make you feel empowered from the core. Open your eyes and on the paper where you had listed the grievances, write in bolds, FORGIVEN and FREE.

 

This Week's Prompt

Can you think of a time when you truly forgave someone and did not forget their transgressions? How did it feel?
Bonus prompt:
   1. Why is FORGIVENESS an important strength for you to engage?
   2. Create a AFFIRMATION that draws from the strength of FORGIVENESS.