Forgiveness

In the course of our work we regularly meet people who have encountered difficult situations and find it hard to move on.

I’m currently reading Ken Cloke’s most recent book ‘Conflict Resolution – Mediating Evil, War and Terrorism’. If you have an interest in conflict resolution at an advanced level, it is a fascinating read. In it, he makes the following observation:

“Three of the most difficult things for any of us to do are:

  • Return love for hate
  • Include the excluded
  • Admit when we are wrong”

In our mediation work we can find that the point at which the conflict originally started can span back many years.

When someone offends us, we often find it more comfortable to send them to Coventry, or search for lots of people to share our story with.

Our belief can be that if we take this approach we will, in return, hurt our opponent.

This is true – partly. The aspect that we might not fully realise though is that in doing so we are also hurting ourselves. To continually hold someone in contempt, ignore them, or speak harshly to them, takes energy. The energy is negative, tiring and debilitating.

This can affect us. It can make us ill as the toxins produced by such negativity can seep into our body. By the way, it’s also a ghastly waste of our lives.

A better way to handle such difficulties is to try and get to a place where we can move on, or grant forgiveness. But, it isn’t easy. In fact, it’s very hard to do – almost unnatural. As we do so though, the feeling that we are likely to encounter is of relief and liberation. This is because chemicals in our body (mainly oxytocin) are released. Our opponent is also likely to be surprised and feel and embarassed as they didn’t expect such a reaction in return for their conduct. So, in releasing ourself through granting forgiveness, the responsibility for our oppenents behaviour is passed back to them, rather than being carried by us.

So, if you are up for the challenge of attempting to do one or more of the hardest things for human beings, I’d love to know how you get on.

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