This week’s blog follows on from my thoughts about forgiveness last week.
In NLP we use a term “positive intention”. This is the understanding that for every behaviour there is a positive intention that drives it. Sometimes this positive intention is unclear at least at the conscious level. It can even seem quite negative.
So an important clarification here, the positive intention is for the person doing the behaviour not anyone who might be on the receiving end. In other words even potentially harmful behaviours will be about perhaps protecting, putting in boundaries, feeling significant, making connection or anyone of a dozen other motivations.
It can also be the best choice we can make with the knowledge and information available to us. Sometimes it is the least worst choice.
In the case of forgiveness it is likely to be about protection. We are wanting to make sure that we don’t re-experience something. If we hang onto our fear, hurt or anger we can stay vigilant and not let our guard down again.
One of my recent clients reminded me that for some people there is a resistance to forgiveness for religious reasons. For me this one is not an issue however sometimes people who grew up in a strongly religious environment may have negative associations to the word “forgiveness”. For them the meaning is different and might need a reframe.
A third issue can be an anxiety that forgiveness might be about saying what another person did was okay. I’d like to address this one first and I am speaking to my own smaller self as I write this.
“What was done to you was wrong. I’m sorry you had to go through that.”
“When people do things that in your value system are morally wrong it is okay for you to “disagree with their behaviour and their choices. When people break the law forgiveness is separate to accountability. People are accountable for their actions whether we forgive them or not.”
What does it cost us if we hang onto our fear, hurt and anger?
Often when we are avoiding forgiveness we are living with the three burdens of fear, hurt and anger and it costs us dear.
We hold the fear that we will experience the same thing again so we build barriers around ourselves blocking people from getting too close.
We examine our hurt regularly and so strengthen the feelings by anchoring them by re-stimulating the pain. Rather than diminishing with time our pain gets more intense.
We use our anger to build an arsenal of weapons to fend off more hurt. We lash out, get in first or become unapproachable.
There are many people who believe that when we hold onto emotions like anger, fear and hurt that there is a negative impact on our health. Although the scientific research is still patchy where this is concerned it makes sense to me.
It takes a lot of energy to keep recycling our old hurts. I wonder how much more energy we would have if we just let go!
And the paradox in all this?
The more we resist it the more we seem to experience it. We become magnets to experiences that seem to re-confirm our feelings over and over again. It all becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The world we expect is the world we experience.
Let me know what you think about this topic. More next week.