Thursday, November 12, 2009

Yes Of COURSE I'll Forgive That JackAss...Just Not Yet

Okay, folks. What do you do when you're smack up against a wall of anger and hurt and self-righteous justifications that you want to fling at someone because they have hurt someone you love (or you) really badly? I think this is a timely topic as we head into the holidays, but I'm having trouble writing a coherent post (probably because I am ROYALLY PISSED at someone right now. It's not you. The person doesn't even know this blog exists.). Please leave me your tips in the comments section (anonymous comments welcomed, as always). It can be anything from how to be pleasant in social situations to deep soul work on releasing anger. Thanks in advance for sharing.


  1. This traditional breathing meditation often does the trick for me. And it works for anger, pain, sickness, fear,...any negative state of mind getting in your way and cluttering your body and mind.

    Imagine your anger in the form of thick black smoke. With your imagination collect all the thick black smoke in your lungs (its funny but you will sometimes visualize it coming from your head or a place of tension or injury in you body) and on your next exhale imagine it leaving your body, out through your nose and picture it going far out in space where it cant bother anyone else. Continue this until all the smoke has left your body. Somedays it takes longer than others. heehee

    If you like you can add a second step, on the inhalation imagine that you are breathing in pure, white light, the nature of peace, inspiration and healing.

  2. First of all you must admit the problem. acknowledge that you are angry and hurt. Once that's accomplished you need to do something to release the anger, hurt, frustration, and resentment. Ex: Write the person a letter and really let them have it, tell them everything you want to say, call them names, rip as hard as you want. Then throw the letter away or better yet, burn it. There's something about watching it go up in smoke that truly feels like you're getting rid of it. Flushing it down the toilet works too. Another way to get it out is to do something physical. Maybe run til you're exhausted, hit something(preferably something that won't hurt you when you hit it, break, or hit you back.) Once I took a full dozen eggs and one by one, threw them in the bathtub--HARD, watching each one smash to pieces. Of course, once that was over I had to clean it up, but even that was sort of healing, like cleaning up the mess was part of the process. Finally, and this is the most important part, you need to let it go. Really. LET IT GO. Holding on to the anger is not hurting the person that you are upset with, it's only hurting you. Once you truly make up your mind to just let it go, it can no longer have a hold on you. Best of Luck!

  3. I've always thought that forgiveness really is the same thing as repentance. If you don't want to hold on to all your old mistakes, why would you want to hold onto someone else's? It's all just baggage that weighs you down.

    Maybe not exactly what you were asking for.

  4. I am (perhaps unfortunately) a firm believer in avoidance. If the dastardly individual with whom I'm (obviously righteously) pissed is not someone I have to interact with, I simply avoid them...forever. Anger has a way of fading over time, whether we want it to or not. If I absolutely cannot avoid the cretin, then I use the "step through the curtain" image. Imagine a curtain in front of you (made of glass beads, silk damask or whatever works for you). Step through the curtain and leave the anger on the other side. It's now hidden behind the curtain and firmly in your past - you can ignore it because it's no longer in your face. Denial. It's a wonderful thing.

  5. Mrs. D,

    Your question gave me pause yesterday, and I had to think about it for a bit before responding. And let me apologize right now for such a lengthy response. In fact, its so long that it would not fit in one comment box, so I have multiple entries. Hang in there; there is a point hidden in here somewhere (hopefully).

    To start, we are all guilty of saying or doing things without thinking, and we have all hurt those around us at some point or another. And we have all been forgiven by a loved one at one time or another for our bad behavior. As I re-read your dilemma, I found it helpful to state it a bit differently. I hope you agree with this interpretation. I came up with: “How do we 'forgive and forget' a loved one when they behave so badly that it rocks our world?” That is the goal, right? Otherwise we wouldn't be upset. We would just shrug it off and go on with our day if we didn't love this person.

    What are we feeling right at that moment? Anger? Betrayal? Disappointment? Hate? Revenge? Probably all of the above in some combination. That's a long list of emotions to work through in the heat of the battle. Its hard to think straight when our body is reacting emotionally. Adrenaline is a powerful drug that keeps us safe in dangerous situations (fight or flight). But it really mucks up the works in a relationship when we don't have an immediate physical outlet for this very physical reaction to stress. I believe the underlying question is based in how we handle our own personal / emotional reaction to a given situation? This isn't new to us...we have all experienced all of these base emotions before. But we still hurt when a loved one acts badly and we are caught in the cross hairs.

    Here is what I came up with: I CHOOSE HOW I REACT EMOTIONALLY in any situation. I am in charge of my emotions, not the other person. Yes, I can be manipulated or fooled by someone's behavior. But I still make choices on how to behave (or react) along the way. For me, road rage was my nemesis and thankfully my car became my classroom.


  6. Here is my testimony:

    “Hi, my name is Jeff and I am an emotional being.”

    “Hi Jeff.”

    “Thank you for that warm greeting. I have to confess: I have reacted badly to others' behavior. I have cussed and stewed and gestured and engaged in totally inappropriate behavior while driving. I was an angry driver, and when I arrived at my destination, I was angry and annoyed by everyone around me. While driving, I was making myself more and more angry each time the car next to me changed lanes without signaling or someone ahead of me slowed way down because they were confused by the construction signs. I was reacting. I was a 'reactive' being.

    “Then the day came when I realized this behavior was making me toxic and sick. So I changed MY behavior. I chose to smile instead of frown. I chose to wave my hand instead of just one finger. I chose a different emotion...I chose to be calm. By practicing this in traffic, I became less angry and less annoyed by other things in life that irritated me. I stopped mumbling sarcastic remarks under my breath in traffic and in the office. Co-workers were still behaving badly. Again, I chose to smile. 'Hey' I thought, 'I am onto something here!' Its just like anything else in life that I wanted to be good at, I realized that it takes practice, it takes rehearsal and it takes planning.

    “The second key to my 'recovery' was the discovery that if I visualized myself as an 'observer' instead of a 'participant' in a heated exchange, it was easier for me to choose how I reacted. Again, this takes practice and anticipation, or planning. I practiced at work with co-workers and with customers. I didn't get sucked into the negative void they were creating in their world. I chose to stay 'neutral', which is quite different from disengaging or 'unplugging'. We all know people like this, and I didn't want to become a cold fish or an uncaring person. So again I chose to stay engaged and I chose not to react emotionally. I was thoughtful. I was in the moment. And I was able to keep my end goal (whatever it may be) in my mind's eye. And people responded to me differently.”

    “And I want to say that this program works if you will just give it a chance. Please help yourself to coffee and cookies in the back of the room.”

    So the 'end goal' in your dilemma Mrs. D is to forgive a loved one & forget his/her bad behavior. Now its up to you. Do you scream and throw things or make a scene? Or do you go dead cold and ignore the person until “they figure it out”. I hope you choose to calmly explain the bad behavior and your emotional response to the situation at the time. Bad behavior happens. We need the tools to work through the situation. And when you remain calm and neutral, hopefully your loved one will remain calm and open to the discussion. When done right, this opens the door to clear communication focused on the issue, not the person. Hopefully both of you will learn this experience and grow closer together instead of letting bad behavior drive you further apart.

  7. Let me start off by saying the WORST kind of hurt, hardest to forgive, is when someone hurts someone I love.
    This is what I do and it works every time. It's just harder than hell. I do it because I don't want those hooks in my brain.

    I make a list of everything I want, at real depth. Like, "Respect from the people I work with, a sense of competence, deep and abiding love from my family, financial security, joy and flow in my daily life, etc."
    Then I pray for them to have ALL OF IT.
    I don't have to mean this. I just have to do it. And if I do it every day for two weeks, something in me shifts and I begin to see their wounds and griefs, and compassion overwhelms my anger. And then, if and when I have to see them again, I'm WAY different. So they can't help but be different too, or at least be uncomfortable.
    (The latter fulfills the biblical observation that if I treat my enemies with love it's like heaping burning coals on them! But the trick is, the burning coal bit can't be my PRIMARY goal--just forgiveness.)

  8. I try (but don't always succeed) to think along the lines of Therese (not surprisingly - she's a lovely lady with a warm and generous soul). I often think about what hurts that person must have sustained to make them act in that way - what insecurities, uncertainties, sadness, etc., he/she must be holding (probably mostly subconsciously) in his/her heart and soul. And I feel really sorry for them, so I can step into a different space with them. when pressed, I fall back on the adages from my childhood, such as "you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar", or "it's much easier to be civil than rude." And then that gets me to the same place Therese is at - I'm acting differently, so at the very least, they're just a tad uncomfortable.

    All that being said, there are times when the right course of action is gentle, constructive confrontation. When that's necessary, I go for the Columbo approach; "I'm a little puzzled by your behavior/choice of words/etc" or "help me understand why you..."

    Thanks for asking the question. It's good to step back and reflect on this question.

  9. Well, I don't know that I have much to offer in the Forgiveness Department, since I never thought about it much. I suppose I do forgive people, or I don't, but it never seemed to matter to me. What Is The Matter With Me? I can't even relate. Oh, dear.

    But I do want to say this much, and it came tpo mind when I read your bit about the holidays coming up, and family, and whatnot. Some people have really awful -- awful! -- families, and if they insist on visiting them, I say they should remember that it is all right at the zoo to Visit the Animals, but they should not get into the cages with them.

  10. I've found that only two things really work for me in the anger-releasing-let-it-go-and-move-on-department; (1)a very, very long walk with the dogs, preferably somewhere remote where I can rant unobserved - it helps if the weather is truly appalling for a bit of added drama. Sometimes the physical exertion seems to replace the mental anguish, and (2)a very, very long grumble with select group of long-suffering friends over several glasses of wine; usually by the end of the evening the bad stuff has become really quite funny, sometimes hilarious, at least for a while...I know these are old cliches and you probably did all this already. They don't really help with the forgiveness part, but they can take the pain out of it a little