Monday, April 05, 2010

A Checklist for Forgiveness

There is a specific technology for getting over being mad. Getting over being mad is called forgiveness.

Our minds, as well as a lot of experts, tell us to avoid this at all costs. Most of us, most of the time, would rather just stay mad and think about it and invent categories full of negative judgement for the rotten jerks who made us mad and look for further proof that we are right and they are wrong. It's more fun and it's easier to do.

Unfortunately, the 'easy' way is the one most damaging to ourselves and others and it doesn't work.

If you want to get over being mad, you have to come back down from the principle, to the experience of being mad -- away from the general principle and in the direction of the specific events that preceded the abstraction. You have to say to the person's face, what the person did or said that made you mad. Forget about explaining why. You don't know why, anyway. Drop the explanation. Just resent them for what they did and don't justify anything. You are petty. We all are. You are crazy. We all are. Go ahead and be petty and cray and do it out loud and magnify the experience.

Love is when you let someone be the way she is. When you let up on your judgements of someone, there is a free space in which forgiveness and love occur. Here is the checklist:

1. Talk face-to-face. You need to look each other in the eye and react to each other moment-to-moment.

2. Start your sentences as often as possible with the words, "I resent you for..." or "I appreciate you for..."

3. Speak in the present tense.

4. Eventually, get specific.

5. Focus as much as you can on what did happen instead of what didn't happen.

6. Stay in touch with your experience as you talk.

7. Stay there with the person beyond the time it takes to exchange resentments.

8. After you have both fully expressed your specific resentments, express your appreciations in the same way.

If you refuse to quit, and keep talking to the person you're interacting with until you feel complete, you will eventually be complete with him. You'll have no more withheld resentments or appreciations, and you'll be able to experience him newly, as he is, in that moment.

--Brad Blanton


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