Psychological Self-Help

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With his/her past in mind, try to see what happened from the other person’s
point of view. What experiences had he/she had that possibly influenced the
behavior that was so hurtful to you? What do you suppose he/she thought
would be the outcome of treating you the way he/she did? What loss might
he/she had been trying to avoid or handle? What emotions might have been
dominating his/her mind? How do you think he/she saw you and your
situation at the time? If you tried to explain his/her behavior in term of past
experiences, powerful emotions, and laws of behavior, what would you say?
Example: you were terribly hurt because your spouse had been unfaithful. Try
to see the past experiences that might have made him/her feel sexually
needy, in need of affection and attention, and desperate to have someone
else love him/her. Can you understand how he/she was feeling about you at
the time and how he/she could overlook your feelings and needs?
Ask yourself and others if the offender regrets what happened. Is he/she
contrite and would like to be forgiven? Has he/she done anything to change
or to make up for the hurts you have suffered? Would he/she be easier to
forgive if they would say “I’m sorry” and indicate they would change? Would
you like to see them seek professional help to change? Or at least read a
book? (Please don’t try to become their therapist yourself.) Do you think
he/she could start to change and grow after hearing about your pain? (Please
keep in mind that if you forgive them it will be for your well being, not to
make their lives much better. Don’t expect miracles to be done by the guilty
Regardless of how the other person feels about his/her hurtful actions, the
question is: have you fully decided that you really want to let the anger and
pain go (put it behind you) for your own good and not to help out the person
who hurt you? Can you keep your anger from spewing out? Can you adopt a
noble model of forgiving, like Gandhi or Jesus? If you had a respected model,
it might help with your self-control. Can you gradually start to wish the other
person well? Does it seem like it would feel good for you to give up your
resentment and seeking revenge?
Weigh the benefits versus the disadvantages of forgiving. How much better
will you feel if you can get rid of the anger? Is there any caring or any
relationship left that is worth trying to save? Sometimes important
relationships are blocked by strong resentments. For example, loving parents
are sometimes estranged from a son or a daughter for years because the son
or daughter married into the wrong race or religion. That is so sad. It takes
courage to attempt forgiving in almost any conflict but the pay offs can be
big, sometimes. There are no guarantees the forgiving will sooth your hurts
and resentment. There are no guarantees that the forgiven person will act
differently in the future. You may be hurt again but it shouldn’t be as much of
a surprise as the first time. It is uncertain if the hurter will offer apologies or
make amends or even be friendly. Nevertheless, just getting rid of a load of
anger by the victim is a great relief.
In fact, there is steadily growing evidence that by reducing your negative emotions,
by forgiving, giving up grudges, and other means, you can improve your health—
physically, psychologically, and interpersonally.
A brief summary of forgiving methods:
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