Forgiveness is the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions such as revenge, with an increased ability to wish the offender well.
It is not for the Offender that we forgive, it is for ourselves. Forgiveness sets us free, allows us to transform negative energy into a positive experience. The offender does not even need to be aware of the forgiveness as that has nothing to do with the positive energy experienced by forgiving an offense.
The first paragraph in this post is a dictionary definition for the word Forgiveness and I find it meaningful that it includes the word victim in as it does. In order to forgive we must first feel we were wronged, which includes transference of responsibility and means we choose a victim position in order to “feel” wronged. So then forgiveness can be a tool by which we release the position of victim, and choose a more powerful place from which to experience the moment.
That being the case, I think I will embrace the thought “Who can I forgive today?”
The world as we see it, is in my opinion nothing more than a series of stories, and as such, the creators of stories begin with a conclusion and seek proof, because being right strokes the ego. So when we hear a story that can be seen as “more proof” of whatever the original conclusion is, it drives home how “right” we are and has the potential to send us into a tirade of “RIGHTeousness” during which we can become genuinely offended by anyone who would suggest to the ego that the story is not true, or that there is more than one truth, or that the story is just a story…
It does not even matter who tells us the story…
So… when an event takes place, those on one side of a conclusion reach for the data that speaks to the ego, and those on the other side (of what appears to be only a two sided issue) do the same thing and seek the data that speaks to the ego. Neither are seeking intimacy, neither are seeking to learn, both are responding to the demands of the ego and become vehemently willing to defend their own position, as that serves to reinforce the ego.
As a result, neither party ever looks for a third possibility, let alone many more possible stories which in the end may be just as likely.
In the end, when we see something as “proof”, or “Plain as day”, or even as just being “right” we should be wary, for surely this “proof” is just being “right” and so serves nobody but ourselves.
“Human beings are – Pleasure seeking, pain avoiding robots, compulsively driven to prove themselves right” – Carol Reynolds
A little story that describes drama…
Picture the hunter, so proud and tall, stalking the deer with precision and confidence, slowly approaching, stopping near, taking a breath when suddenly there is a bear, who had been nibbling on some berries and was startled by the hunter. Now the hunter backs away, and the bear follows making loud bear noises, leaving the deer safe and secure and then…
Did the bear rescue the deer?
Did the bear persecute the hunter?
Was the bear the victim?
What is so curious to me is that in this little story the victim, is completely determined by who is telling the story (grin)
The bear might tell a story of an evil deer, who craftily lured a hunter in to kill the bear, so that the evil deer could get the berries…
The bear would be convinced of it, sure in his mind that He was the victim here, that there was no other possible answer, that the evil deer was doing this on purpose! That it was to get the berries, and that the deer would stop at nothing to get them. That it was even willing to use a hunter, to cost the poor bear its very LIFE, in order to get what it wanted so evil the deer was. But in the end, the bear was triumphant! (see the bear swelling up with pride) it would not take this from the deer, it would chase down the hunter, and then return…
This is of course only one side of the triangle, the deer would tell a different story, and would be equally convinced of his victim state, and the hunter to be sure would tell a very different story indeed, think about how she feels and how she would tell the story…
oh but then, did you even consider that the hunter might be a woman?
Recently a wonderful opportunity was presented and I was reacquainted with an old friend, a tool that has lead me through countless changes and one that continues to point out the little things that I need to work on . That tool of course is feedback.
Have you ever noticed how easy it is to discount feedback from others when it does not feel great? Sure sometimes the feedback feels wonderful, and we take that information and believe it straight away, reinforcing the oh so wonderful view of ourselves that we have, but that exact same person can share something that is constructive, but perhaps a bit harsh, and we immediately begin to rationalize the information, or completely dismiss it as false, or worst case, decide that the person is not even a friend of ours if they would make up such lies…
Yet negative feedback can be the only way to identify parts of ourselves that we might wish to change, the view from the outside looking in after all, is nearly always very different than the view from the inside looking out. (I assure you it is in my case).
One example of this is found in another useful little tool that has been around for a very long time called a Johari Window This little guy is a diagram of both self, and also groups and it shows the four areas of perception which are listed below.
The diagram looks like this;
In this image, the lines dividing each of the areas is equal, however this is nearly never an accurate representation, we as people who are in relationship with others, typically have a great deal of stuff that is not in the open. The following is an example of a new team member for example.
As you can see, the Open/Free area is very small, while the remaining areas are larger. This group dynamic will never function at high levels, unless something is changed, and that work is all about communication. In order to change both ourselves, and the group dynamic, we need to exchange information.
The only way to decrease the Hidden area, is to reveal information to others.
The only way to decrease the Blind area is to accept feedback from others (a bit tricky as we have already established.)
The only way to decrease the Unknown area is through discovery, a process that becomes easier and easier as the other areas are reduced, and the Open/Free area becomes dominant as shown below.
The primary focus of our topic today, is feedback, and the use of feedback as a tool for change. So lets focus on that for a moment, and here is the key. Harsh feedback can be difficult for us to take, and you have to prepare your mind to receive it.
In order to prepare your mind for negative feedback, the kind that might actually reveal parts of yourself that you are blind to… you have to solicit the information. Yep, you have to ask for it. You see if you ask for the feedback, and you prepare yourself to hear some things you dont like, you have a much higher chance of believing it, and then changing that part of yourself through whatever process works best. Sometimes its just repeatedly receiving the feedback, and other times you have to take on new challenges, or work differently in order to change whatever it is, that we want to change.
Say for example that you believe you are funny when you make sarcastic comments, but when you ask a group of peers, you get feedback that suggests you are offensive. Because you asked for the information, you take it to heart and over time, you begin to notice that the sarcasm is not appreciated by others, and that they perceive you as thinking you are better than them. You decide to take the feedback and change this behavior, and you stop making sarcastic comments. Shortly thereafter, you begin to notice that people seem happier to hang out and speak with you, and that you have better relationships.
This example is very basic and short, and often the things about ourselves that we want to change are not so obvious, but it serves to illustrate the example.
The bottom line, is that feedback is an incredibly powerful tool for showing you things about yourself that you may not even be aware of, and to increase its effectiveness you have to ask for the feedback.
Try it, each time I do, I am in the end happy with the changes that I have made, and I feel like I have grown. My hope is that your experience is the same.
It has been a while since I have written, I apologize for those of you who might have been waiting (grin).
Tonight I got the opportunity to read the words of my dear friend Ava Fails who without trying, reminded me that I can and do, make a difference in the lives of others. Which of course is why I get up every day to begin with, and I never want to forget that my moments of joy are those when I get to recognize that I have made a difference, that I have been in the service of another and that the result was positive.
That thought naturally reminded me also that we are most effective, productive, and profitable, when we are in the service of others. When our efforts are not selfishly intended just to benefit us, but in fact are designed and executed to the benefit of others. Think about the stars of the music world, or of the screen, etc (I am sure I have mentioned this at some point), they are rewarded most, when what they produce is a gift to others in some way. Authors, manufacturers, and physicists alike receive most, when their effort and intent, is targeted at some positive result, for another person or persons.
So, want to succeed, become truly wealthy, and feel great?
Be… In the service of others.
What do you see when you look at the people around you?
What do you look for would be a better question
Do you see greatness? Or is it something less, faults, flaws, failures, weaknesses, etc. What does that say about you?
What does it mean that you see less than greatness around you?
If you look for and see the greatness in others, it can change you. If you share that vision, it can change them.
As an exercise try this – write down the greatness that you see in everyone that you know. Make a list of each and every person that you know and then identify how they are great, identify the quality of greatness that is in them.
Try to spend an entire day, seeing only greatness, try again and again until you make it the whole day. I am willing to bet, that if you make it a whole day, the way you feel at the end, and the results that you get from that day, will get you to try a week, or a month…
I love the following quote, it really sums it up
“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change” – Wayne Dyer
Fairness is one of the most interesting thoughts, and it seems to be one of the primary causes of drama I think. I have in other writings or videos talked about how we create lower standards by seeking fairness, and how the chase to make things fair, sometimes leads us astray.
This time I want to just talk about fairness. Most of the time I think, fairness pops up as a lack of fairness rather than a sense of fairness, and when this happens, the most common reaction to the lack is to fall into victim thinking about how its “not fair” and how it should not be that someone else, has what we so obviously should also have, or have instead of…
This is a particularly dangerous road to go down because once a person decides that they are helpless to obtain what it is that they want, they will instead follow one of two or more darker paths. Obviously the healthy and responsible path to follow once a person has determined that one wants a thing, is to just go about getting it. This however seems to be the rarest of paths that we take. Instead, we follow a darker path, and I list two, because they are at the forefront of my mind, but I say two or more, because there almost certainly other paths that have not thought of and do not include here, but we should not overlook them if they become apparent.
The first of the darker paths is to seek fairness by reducing what we bring to the table. Say for example that we are talking about an employee feeling taken advantage of, because the employee is not paid what he or she believes him or herself to be worth.
This is a very common thought pattern and to list this example I will use information discussed in my video “What needs to be done” For the sake of the example, lets assume that the employee believes that they are worth 10 dollars per hour, but have taken a job for 1 dollar an hour. It may be that they took the job believing this, but just as common is that they took the job feeling fine about it, and then later decided that they were worth more, and slowly they reached the conclusion that they were underpaid by a great deal.
In both cases, the fairness factor kicks in, and the employee, seeking fairness, will intentionally reduce their own effectiveness, in an attempt to create a world where fairness is served. So now, the employee who is being paid 1 dollar an hour begins to perform at a level that is below the expectations of the employer and it is here that the real drama begins.
The employer, noticing that the employee is performing at a lower than expected level, will feel taken advantage of because the implicit contract between parties is that the employee will receive 1 dollar per hour, in return for performing at the expected level and they are not. To correct this, the employer may counsel the employee, reduce his or her wages, or terminate the contract and begin anew. Proving to both parties forever, that each was taken advantage of by the other and fairness was not maintained.
If you look carefully, you will see the lies that each party told themselves. The employee, should seek employment for the amount they feel they are worth, and then perform at the expected level, and the employer, might be better served by seeking to understand the motivations of the employee, and either reassigning them to an area of more value, or creating other forms of motivation that will compensate for the perceived disparity in fairness. In this example however we began with the employee, and so the focus will remain there.
If you are an employee who believes that they are not paid enough for the performance given. Then you should seek employment at those wages or at a package that satisfies the fairness factor – you should never reduce your own effectiveness to create fairness, because following that path creates a world where you become less, and less effective as you go, until you are eventually trapped by your own actions, unable to accomplish much of anything, for anyone, including yourself.
The second of the darker paths, is where we as people will seek to remove the motivating factor from the other person. In this path, we see someone who has what we want, decide that it is not fair for them to have it, and so we go about trying to take it from them, or at the very least make sure that they do not have it.
This is particularly insidious because not only are we still in victim because we believe that we cannot have what we want, but we actively try to undermine, or rob the other of what they legitimately created for themselves (the proof that it is legitimately theirs by the way, is that they have it)
As an example let say that two good friends are working for the same company, and they started at the same time, at the same level of pay etc. Equal in every way, and over time one of the two, is promoted to higher and higher position.
The fairness factor is activated, and the second friend, choosing a dark path, decides that this is not fair, and so goes about destroying the friendship, and undermining the first friend at every turn in an attempt to return him or her to equal status and thereby create fairness.
Can you see how Victim Thinking now costs this friend so much? He or she loses the friendship, loses the promotions that may be possible (because leaders rarely see those that destroy as valuable), and may actually succeed in costing another (probably temporarily), something that they created for themselves by following the right path.
We could go further into this potential for drama if the first friend, having lost the position assumes a position of victim – but that is better covered in another post.
For now, let’s just see these two dark paths, as the wrong choice. We need to know that we can have what we want at any time, just by deciding we want it, and going after it. By keeping an open mind about HOW what we want will come to us, and by diligently chasing after whatever it is, we are sure to succeed.
Fair does not exist – Fair is a construct of the Ego, and it creates victim thinking.
If you want something, go out and get it – it is after all, your responsibility.
A favorite quote of mine is “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear” and while I cannot be sure of its origin, it has occupied my thoughts for many hours over the years, and I have come to believe that the teachers are all around us, all of the time, and that the lessons then, are also around us at all times. It is we as students who are not ready to see, and so, like the early Indian peoples who are said to have not been able to see the ships off the coast, because such a thing was not possible in their minds, the lessons that will inevitably drive us forward into growth remain unseen, until the possibility of such growth is within our grasp.
As we approach a place where we may be able to grow, the resistance to such growth then jumps up to defend our ego, it manifests itself in many ways, but always with the same goal. To prevent us from changing. Change after all, is the enemy of the ego, it challenges what we believe at our core. It challenges how we see ourselves, and how we see the world around us. That very change, is the most threatening thing to the Ego, to have all that it has built up threatened with being wrong is too much for the fragile Ego and so it defends its false beliefs vehemently.
Anger, Grief, Fear, even Joy can be manipulated to distract and withdraw from the truth, to look away from the lesson so that the Ego can remain whole, and in control.
This weekend, like every weekend where real work is being done, I had the opportunity to see many forms of resistance, including one that I had forgotten about – Fatigue. This weekend a participant with great potential, struggled again and again with an overwhelming fatigue, tired and feeling ill, amplifying these feelings and giving them power until even the thought of participating in simple and fun events was distasteful because the ego recognized that by participating, it would come face to face with the obvious truth. The Ego then would have to give way to that higher self and in a moment of clarity, change would come. It was a difficult battle, but I believe that the participant won, in the end there was a different feel, a more powerful and engaged person who had power and could create change. Sure the Ego will jump up again, it may be many battles before the fatigue is finally beat down, and the change becomes the norm, but the glimpse of it was there. The hint that there may be something more.
I am humbled by the lesson. I remain as always a student. Sometimes I study well, and other times the lesson eludes me. Today I am reminded to guard against fatigue, especially when it seems to have no valid source, when I am tired for no reason. Today I remember that such fatigue is surely a sign that I am fighting a lesson which is close at hand. I will try to recognize that and seek the lesson.
Should this entry find its way to the participant who experienced the battle – Thank you, though your work I learned anew.
For the rest of us, lets just remember if we can, that the lessons are all around us – and sometimes it is others who do the fighting for us…
The curious thing about being in a victim state, is that you can see it so clearly in others, but for some reason its the hardest thing in the world to spot in ourselves. Once we start feeling sorry for ourselves and telling stories about how we have been victimized by someone or some-thing, the rest of our tools tend to warp themselves to the vision and in this way, we will see plenty of evidence to prove that we are in fact being victimized, instead of being responsible in any way. We will use logic, facts, story, feelings, and results to prove unquestionably that we were victimized.
The really cool thing to understand here, is that you actually combine two separate destructive patterns because you are (being a victim) , and you are also (being right). Naturally its not cool to be there, but its cool to understand because that can show us how to recognize this in ourselves, and how to get out of it and move into a more productive mindset.
So if you notice that the story you are telling (either to yourself or to another) places you in the role of victim, then you are in a victim state, plain and simple. If you have an anylitical mind, you will very likely be thinking “well sure but what if…(insert example)”. The thing is, no matter what your example here is, there is a difference between the event, and they way you think about it. You can choose to think that you are powerless in the world, and that things happen TO you, or you can choose to be the active player, and be responsible for everything that happens. You see no matter what, to think any other way, does not serve your best interests.
In the same way, you can nearly always identify when you are “being right”, because you can see proof everywhere that you are. If you find yourself thinking or saying “see – that’s proof”, you are being right. Remember that once upon a time, nearly the whole world believed that the earth was flat, that the earth was the center of the universe, and any of a host of other ideas that in time were proven to be false. Yet everywhere we as a people looked, there was proof and since there was proof, there was no need to question it.
When looked at in this way, it may be concluded that questioning what is obvious is both feasible and sound practice. In the case of being right, its frequently more fruitful to look for how you may not be, how there can be more than one truth, and how your insistence that you are correct, may be costing you everything…
What else can we do?
Be WRONG – not all the time, but at least allow for the possibility that you may not be correct, that they may be another perspective to see, that there may be a path outside of what you have seen thus far. Open your mind, and you will see many doors that were previously closed to you, and possibly locked.
Be Responsible for EVERYTHING – this way you are the only one who can take action, you are responsible for your failures, and also your Successes! You get to be the active player in everything. This type of thinking can only serve your highest and best interests.