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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Forgiveness-Part 5- The Other perspective

(In the Name of Allah, Most Beneficient, Most Merciful)

The topic for today is a very important one. It's very difficult to forgive people when they have done things to hurt us and sometimes even if we try our hardest to forgive, we may find that this is difficult because of all the hurt and pain that the person/people may have caused us. So this post tries to deal with that in a more open and positive manner...

How do we forgive when we can’t forget the things that people have done to us?

The key to forgiveness and letting go is not to forget the hurtful things, but to try and REMEMBER IT DIFFERENTLY!

 How do we do this?...

…By looking at the same situation from different perspectives. 

This is also called “Re-framing”, in psychological terms.

 Usually we don’t have all the information about things that happen. We hardly ever know both sides of a story and we don’t know people’s motivations and intentions for doing things. We also don’t understand where other people are coming from, we are not empathetic. This means that all we have is our own perspective, the way we perceive something. This is very limited and one-sided. If we try to ‘walk in other peoples shoes’ and if we try and understand their reasons behind doing things and if we see things from their point of view, then we might begin to change the way we see things and then it will become easier for us to forgive others!

Some Essential Steps in Re-framing

1.   Empathy

      Empathy is “walking in the other person’s shoes”.  When you put yourself in someone else’s place and try to see things from their point of view then it becomes easier for you to identify with the person as you can understand them better. This makes it easier for you to forgive them.

2.   Accepting motivations and remaining open-minded

     Empathising with someone is not enough. You have to actively make up your mind that you will remain open-minded and willing to understand their motivations and intentions.  Sometimes we cannot understand why people are doing a certain thing, even if we place ourselves in their shoes. This is because our minds are closed and we can’t see the future consequences. Thus, part of remaining open minded and accepting their motivations means that we have to trust people and truly believe that they want what is best for us.

     (For example; Imagine if there was a deadly spider on your shoulder. Someone then comes and smacks you really hard. You immediately get angry with that person and you’re not willing to listen to their motivation for smacking you. Without knowing about the spider, you intend not to forgive them because the smack they gave you caused you pain. Then afterwards you find out about the spider that may have killed you. Will it be easy for you to forgive the person when you understand that their action was for your own good, even though it caused you pain at the moment. Now imagine if you never got a chance to forgive that person and only afterwards you come to find out about the spider? Thus we have to make an effort to trust that most people are inherently good and they may be acting according to what they think is best for us).

3.   Active listening

     This is about listening on all levels. Listening to what the person is saying to us, with their words, facial expression, and body language. This does not mean that we hear only what we want to hear.

4.   Focus on the positive

      This involves a shift in the way we think and making choices to see thing through a positive lens instead of through a negative lens.

Inshaa-Allah (If Allah wills) in the next post we will focus on the effects that our actions have on people and situations.

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