Unity Talk – July 1, 2018
Once upon a time in their marriage, Saul Rosenberg did something really stupid. Ethel Rosenberg chewed him out for it. He apologized, they made up.
However, from time to time, Ethel would mention what he had done.
“Honey,” Saul finally said one day, “why do you keep bringing that up? I thought your policy was ‘forgive and forget.'”
“It is,” Ethel said. “I just don’t want you to forget that I’ve forgiven and forgotten.”
Todays talk has 3 parts
The first is what happens to us when we feel wronged by someone.
The second is how to recognize helpful and hurtful statements by others as well as our own inner dialogue.
Lastly, what is a meaningful apology and do we have to accept it.
I don’t know how it it is for you. When I get angry and feel wronged by someone. It may take me awhile to work up to forgive ness. There is a lot of anxiety involved. I may rehash the event of wronging a gadzillion times. First with friends.. where I just want to be right, the other person is wrong. Most of the time, my friends agree with me, except when they don’t. Then I might move on to telling my therapist, who then says its ok to hold 2 or more feelings at the same time. She aims to lesson my anxiety by supporting my perspective, supporting me by saying why I feel wronged by reminding me what could triggered such strong feelings of feeling wronged.
When I feel wronged, I get defensive. My defensive turns into an offense and then forgiveness and a softening of my heart goes out the window. I am conflicted and have anxiety about resolution and forgiveness possibly for hours, days or sometimes years. I know I need to forgive and yet, I do not.
Kazmimierz Dabrowski, a Polish psychiatrist and psychiatrist, developed the theory of positive disintegration. This explains why anxiety and tension are necessary for self actualization, your higher Self, or god Self or Christ consciousness. To me, this explains my last sentence of ‘ I know I need to forgive, yet I cannot.”
This anxiety and tension, positive disintegration, helps you build a a stronger, bigger version of yourself and life. And, its not a one time process, it is ongoing. A life long, labor of love for yourself and ultimately for the sake of all.
To achieve positive disintegration, Dabrowski explains that you first have to address ( not resolve) conflicts within yourself. Then between your current self and your desired higher self.
He calls conflicts with in yourself horizontal conflicts. As they arise at your current level of self.
Example: This conflict is either or thinking, black or white thinking . its them or us, all or none…
The conflicts between your current level of self and your higher self are vertical, they call for an upward movement into higher or greater version of the current you… or more actualized you.
Resolving horizontal and vertical conflicts can be hard because we fear we might make the wrong choices. If I forgive him now, will I be hurt in the future. If I don’t confront my bosses unwanted sexual advances, will I be able to handle it if he does it again. Even if my boss acknowledges’ I was wrong but I don’t want you to quit. I need you to cover your shift. Or my favorite(said sarcastically,” I am sorry I beat you, but that is what I learned from my parents.” This is my parent, I have to forgive them. Right.
Conflict and anxiety all the way.
When talking to another and working out conflict, aiming for forgiveness aiming for that higher self actualization I need to listen and feel what I am are saying. Especially if I am the one who needs to apologize.
Especially around the words AND and BUT
And, is a connector between 2 sentences. The sentences is balanced and equal between 2 connecting thoughts
‘ I love you AND I feel really hurt by your actions”
My therapist always points me in this direction.
However, when you use the word BUT
You are adding an element of surprise, as if you are aiming to make the 2 parts of the sentence equal, however emphasis is on the second part of the sentence
I love you BUT I feel really hurt by your actions. I care about you, but you were a real jerk to me.
According to Oprah most conflicts come down to 3 things
- Did you hear me?
- Did you see me?
- Did what I say mean anything to you?
Or to put another way conflicts arise when one or more people
Don’t feel heard
Don’t feel seen
And don’t feel like anything they asked for, stated or expressed really meant anything or had no impact on the person or group.
Take our political climate right now. People on both sides and in between, don’t feel heard, seen or nothing they say means anything to the people in charge.
In a meaningful apology you also need these 3 things also.
You need to state what you are apologizing for. You to need acknowledge the other person. And you need to state and commit to how your behavior will change in the future.
And then the other person has an opportunity and choice whether to accept the apology… because you know, many times the person who apologizes and it doesn’t get accepted now feels, not seen, not heard and not validated. And the sentence I heard most often was“ What more do you want? I apologized to you.. cuss cuss cuss.”
At camp last weekend, there were plenty of conflicts between the 4 to 6 year olds.
As the clown, I set an example for the kids as to what is funny, what is not, what is hurtful and what is play.
These 2 kids were arguing over who sits where, and as the conflict was being resolved, one little girl took the little boy’s super hero cape. And no the little boy was not doing anything in my class to provoke stealing his superhero cape.
T to the girl and boy
Josie, you really need to apologize.
Dante please listen to Josie’s apology
Josie said I’m sorry. I said what are you sorry for. “For taking your cape.”
At this point I had to coax them to at least look at each other , rather than just mumble with heads down.
I said Josie, please say ‘ I wont take your superhero cape again.”
Ok. I wont mumble mumble mumble.
Dante do you accept her apology.
Ok you two lets go back to playing with out food.
Was it the best apology I ever heard. Nope. Was it a start on learning. Yep.
You don’t always have to accept an apology. Because when a person apologizes for the same thing for the 99th time, there is a good chance they are going to make the same mistake again. And in that case, you can forgive , but don’t forget.
It would be fool hardy for you, to keep expecting a different behavior. How you decide to change with this info is p to you.
Forgiveness is wise, forgetting is optional.
I end with another joke, a perspective on forgiveness
Rabbi Epstein was giving his Yom Kippur sermon about forgiveness and during his speech he asked his congregation, “how many of you have forgiven your enemies?”
About half held up their hands. He then rephrased his question, “how many of you want to forgive your enemies?” Slowly, every hand in the congregation went up, except for one. Little old Sadie Horowitz.
“Mrs. Horowitz?” inquired the Rabbi, “are you not willing to forgive your enemies, especially on this Day of Atonement when God forgives us all?”
“I don’t have any enemies” Mrs. Horowitz replied, smiling sweetly.
“Mrs. Horowitz, that is more impressive. How old are you?”
“Ninety-eight,” she replied.
“Oh Mrs. Horowitz, what a blessing and a lesson to us all you are. Would you please stand up and in front of this congregation tell us all how a person can live ninety- eight and not have an enemy in the world.”
Little old Mrs. Horowitz got up slowly, smiled, faced the congregation, and said “I outlived all those old yentes.”
May we all give and get a little more forgiveness in our world. Thank You