Friday, August 24, 2007

Imagine that your life is a busy airport, with you as the air traffic controller

Now let's look at your control screen. On the best day, it's chaotic with departures and arrivals. But there are some planes that never seem to land. They circle and circle endlessly, taking up space and multiplying stress.

These planes are your unresolved grievances. They hover, but they refuse to land. With them buzzing in your personal space, you're forced to work harder. They distract you, exhaust your resources, and cause accidents. Unable to forgive or let go, you try to keep your grievances aloft, creating stress and risking burnout.

This is a scenario that Dr. Fred Luskin, director and cofounder of the Stanford University Forgiveness Project, uses in his latest book, Forgive for Good, to describe the toll that unresolved grievances take on our lives. As the analogy shows, harboring our injuries robs us of precious time, energy, and the ability to move forward in our lives.

And here's some interesting news: Research has shown that forgiveness is good for our mental and physical health. Having the ability to forgive seems to reduce depression, defuse anger, improve spirituality, enhance emotional self-confidence, and help people live with greater peace.

Forgiving does not mean being a doormat, simply condoning or forgetting injury. Nor does forgiving mean that it's wrong for you to feel hurt and angry. As Dr. Luskin says in his book Forgive for Good, "Forgiveness is the feeling of peace that emerges as you take your hurt less personally, take responsibility for how you feel, and become a hero instead of a victim in the story you tell."

This last point is the most important: When we forgive, we stop being a victim of our past. That includes forgiving ourselves. It means giving ourselves a break when we fail to meet a goal or come up short in being perfect. We choose to move forward with purpose, instead of looking back with resentment."

Dr. Bettye (Bettye H. Albritton, Ph.D.)
Life is Fragile - Handle With Prayer!