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The Art of Forgiveness

By April 20, 2009 Uncategorized


It’s hard to believe that the Columbine High School shootings took place ten years ago. At times it seems like it occured yesterday. That catastrophic event was the epitome of stress for scores of people across the state. During this past week, various NPR (local and national) programs have focused on the anniversary of this horrid event by talking to survivors (students, teachers, the principle) and family members of those who were killed. One recurring theme that came up in each interview was whether each person has come to a place of forgiveness with the killers. Forgiveness, under any circumstance, is a tremendous challenge to the heart (and ego), particularly when a loved one is killed. I have met many people in my life who have had a loved one taken from them, and in the course of these conversations forgiveness often comes up. Just as with these most recent interviews with Columbine High School survivors, many said that they had to learn to forgive the killers so they could move on with their lives. Forgiveness is not letting somebody off the hook, or condoning reckless behavior. Forgiveness is coming to terms with the situation, as horrible as it may be, and moving on with your life gracefully. While it may seem important (even necessary) to hang on to resentment (and many people do… as a form of control), when we hang on to anger (a form of unresolved stress), we give our power away. Forgiveness is one of many ways of reclaiming your power.

• Stress Tip for the Day:
Extending forgiveness to someone doesn’t have to include a face to face contact. Forgiveness begins with an attitude of letting go of anger feelings and feelings of victimization and moving on. In essence, forgiveness is the act of opening a closed heart. Forgiveness is not the same thing as restitution. If you are waiting for an apology with your act of forgiveness, you may be waiting for a very long time. Is there someone whom you are carrying some ill-feelings toward (e.g., a grudge)? Now is the time to let go of this emotional baggage and lighten the load of your life journey. Now is the time to move on with your life.

• Books Worth Noting:
I am often asked, when giving talks on forgiveness, to recommend a few resources. Although there are many good books on the topic of forgiveness, my favorite book is by Fred Luskin, Forgive For Good. I highly recommend it!

• Photo of the Day:
This photo is an illustration that one of my college students drew in an art therapy session. She drew a picture of herself grieving. I learned later that day that she (along with 6 others in the class) was a survivor of the Columbine Shootings and this, she said, was a very cathartic way to relieve her stress.

• Quote for the Day:
“ He who angers you, conquers you.”
—Elizabeth Kenny

Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D. is an internationally renowned expert in the fields of stress management, mind-body-spirit healing and stress and human spirituality. He is the author of over 10 books including the bestsellers, Stand Like Mountain, Flow Like Water, Stressed Is Desserts Spelled Backward, The Art of Calm, Quiet Mind, Fearless Heart and Managing Stress (6E). He can be reached through his website:www.brianlukeseaward.net

© Brian Luke Seaward, Ph.D.

Brian Luke Seaward

Author Brian Luke Seaward

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