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Finding Forgiveness?

4 Feb

All that talk about Lance Armstrong’s confession got me thinking about forgiveness … how do you find forgiveness??

When we’re in the middle of a conflict, it’s hard to imagine that there is an opportunity for healing and growth, don’t you think? Forgiving is the farthest thing from our minds and yet … not being able to do so sure can stand in the way of moving on. We’ve all been there.

Forgiveness is defined as the release of a feeling of negative emotion (such as anger or hatred) felt as a result of a real or perceived wrongdoing of another.  OK – so that’s a bunch of words. The bottom line is how do we figure out how to ‘release’ those feelings – that’s the real challenge.

As a mediator, I try to understand the interests behind the positions taken by parties in a dispute. But what if you can only go so far, because the lack of forgiveness stands in the way of coming to an agreement?

Here are some examples of questions that could allow for some internal reflection of what a world beyond the current impasse could be like:

  • “What would it take to resolve this issue from your perspective?”
  • “What would the impact be on your life of continuing things the way they are between you now?”
  • “What would it be like not to feel the way you do today?” “What would it take to get there?”

These questions don’t mean that the behavior that hurt so badly should be forgotten or condoned. They try to explore the opportunity for things to be different than they are right now — that may allow for a greater understanding of the benefits of moving on and therefore starting on the path to forgiveness.

Does forgiveness automatically mean that an apology is involved? It may or may not. Sometimes, a commitment to not repeat the offending behavior in the future may be enough. So … focusing on the future and not the past.

When I work with parties as a mediator, I am continuously looking for ways to work through the barriers to agreement and forgiveness may be one of the doors to open … and explore the world on the other side.

Jeanette

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