The Book of Joy

A friend gave me this to read. She knows (to some degree) what I’ve been going through and lent this to me to read. The book is by The Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Douglas Abrams.

At first, I wasn’t sure if I could get into the book. I’m not a religious person in any shape or form. The interesting thing for me is that they touch a lot on Buddhism. Again, I’m not a religious person and I don’t practice Buddhism and I realize that it is technically not a religion, I am fascinated by some parts of it. I did not read the book cover to cover. I took a look at the table of contents and fleshed out some parts that looked interesting. This blog post is the part that I focused on.

The Fourfold Path of Forgiveness.  Right not, today, I’m trying to figure out how to let something go that has been hurting me for a long time. I didn’t blog about what I’ve been reading on, I’m saving that for my session tomorrow. But this part, the fourfold path of forgiveness made me look harder at what I’m trying to let go of. What I have to “forgive” if I want to move forward.

You begin by telling your story. All forgiveness begins by facing the truth. I write down what I need to face in my journal. I’m not comfortable anymore telling my stories to people. By telling your story, you let the memories in your mind lose some of the reactions you have to them. They say to look at the situation like you are watching a movie. It’s supposed to help you ease the chances of having a stress response. The book quotes Ethan Kross and his colleagues suggesting that you experience the event by closing your eyes and going back to the time and the place of the emotional experience and see the scene in your mind’s eye. Now move back and watch the situation from a point where you can see yourself in the event and watch it unfold. Watch yourself from a distance as the scene plays out.

I understand how that works I’ve done it many times in the past. In the particular situation that I am dealing with now, I can’t really put myself into a spot and then watch the whole scene play out. The situation is a bit more complicated than that.

Next, you have to “Name the hurt”. The facts are the facts but you are supposed to name the emotions. I do this when I write/type out my log for my AT’s (Automatic thoughts) so I have a list of ones that seem to come up for me again and again. Stepping back into the movie scenario, as you watch the situation unfold, you are supposed to understand “his or her” feelings. I’m taking that to mean the “me” that I am watching. What am I feeling? Why did I have those feelings? What were the causes and reasons for those feelings? Again, this harks back to my AT log (maybe CBT and Buddhism have a bit in common?) If the hurt is fresh, ask yourself, “Will the situation affect me in ten years?” If the hurt is old, ask yourself whether you want to continue to carry this pain or whether you want to free yourself from this pain and suffering. For me, this is a new “pain” and I don’t think it will have a great affect on me in ten years. This much I can say with clarity.

Now we have “granting forgiveness”. This ability to forgive comes from the fact that as humans we eventually hurt each other. We need to forgive and ask for forgiveness and accept our part in the human drama.

The last part is “renewing or releasing the relationship”. This is where you decide that once you have forgiven them, can you continue to have a relationship with this person? If you choose to; you must remember that you will not be going back to the relationship that existed before. That is gone. The dynamics have changed. If you decide to “release” the relationship, you need to move on and wish the best for the person that we feel have hurt us. WE need to accept that they simply want to avoid suffering and be happy in their life.

That last line “We need to accept that they simply want to avoid suffering and be happy with their life”. That line is a whole other post for me to write.

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