We all experience times of hurt or threat to our security. A natural reaction to hurt or threat of hurt, derived from the time of humanity's early existence in the jungles of pre-history, is the flow of adrenaline to mobilise strength, either to fight or flee. In the jungle, and for our ancestors, this was a healthy and useful response. Indeed we are descended from those who developed the best stress responses along these lines. The whole self was undivided in these circumstances - you either fought the attacking animal whole-heartedly or you froze in your tracks whole-heartedly, or you ran away whole heartedly. Fear and anger responses were whole-person survival reactions. In such circumstances this is healthy anger and fear. If they serve their purpose and are discharged in ways that could be called healthy and functional, there is likely to be little "residue" left in the body. The dramas of the hunt or battle could be talked about over the camp fires, and the remaining emotion charge released.
Life became more complex with the passage of time. Mind evolved and memory became longer. The ability to predict, to think into the future developed. Short term pleasure/pain survival reactions began to come into conflict with long term pleasure/pain goals, and even deeper ethical values. Human beings were beginning to learn to suppress feelings.
In the circumstances of our modern society, we can no longer simply act out all our angers and frustrations or we may end up in court. Nor can we always safely discharge our fears - indeed we may be laughed at or prematurely consoled, or told to snap out of it, by our peers if we share our feelings, and thus not even talk about them.
There develops therefore a division in the psyche. One part of me may want to take violent retributive action, another part wants to suppress that feeling. One part of me wants to run away, another part wants to be brave. This inner conflict leads to a loss of energy, of self-esteem, of ability to love, and of creativity. Not only may I feel bad, I may even come to feel bad for feeling bad! Thus guilt and shame are added to compound the difficulty.
Thus are the so called "negative emotions" born. Why did they come to be called "negative"? Negative means minus, subtraction. What is being subtracted? Energy. The common feature of all the negative emotions like resentment, envy, jealousy, anxiety, obsessional rumination, remorse, regret, excessive grief, depression, guilt, false guilt or shame, is a drop in the energy available for creative living.
The unpleasantness of this can for some people at certain times in their lives reach the level where life may begin to seem to no longer be worth living, and a death or illness wish may begin to form in them. They may be conscious of this, leading to suicidal ideation. Awareness of it may come and go. Or they may not be conscious of it at all, and various forms of self-destructive or self-diminishing behaviours begin to emerge, leading to various forms of unwellness. This can be in the physical, emotional, mental realms, on in relationship, at work, in the courts, in the accident statistics, in society, etc. The scene is set, the ground is prepared, for a "symptom" to emerge, a "wake-up call". If no action is taken, this may go on to present itself as dis-ease in any of those areas and/or premature death of the individual.
Not since sending people to beautiful sanitaria in the mountains with quiet, with fine clear air and good nutrition to assist the cure of tuberculosis has modern western medicine tried to come to grips with the idea that people may need to be "recharged" with energy as an essential part of their healing process. A modern western hospital or doctor's waiting room does little to raise your energy levels. Traditional Chinese medicine, and certain other healing traditions do address this. It is my belief that a lift in life energy is needed, even vital, to make the difference, and turn the corner from the self-destructive to the healing path. This may come from an experience of beauty or goodness, from nature or from an unconditionally loving person. Or it may come in the form of a last wave of desperation from within. Once the decision to get well, to do whatever it takes, has been taken, the person has taken a big step forward in their healing journey. The inner conflict (one part of me wants to get well, but another part wants to be sick or even die) is ended, the self is no longer divided.
In the context of using the forgiveness process, the person has now become willing to learn it and practise it. (There may well be other things they need to include in their healing programme, forgiveness is not an alternative to medical treatments of various kinds, it is to be used in parallel with them). They feel an immediate lift in their life energy. They are now willing to take more responsibility for their own healing processes, to participate in them. They become willing to do the forgiveness processes for all the people they have been offended by in their lives, all the people who have hurt, misused or betrayed them. They thus come to do all they can to heal the harmful effects of the physiological patterns of resentment, grudge, envy, hate, fear, grief, guilt, shame, etc. By linking their lower consciousness with their higher consciousness, they become more whole. This is an aspect of psychosynthesis - the soul, or higher Self, uniting all the parts. This is integrative medicine.
We all go through this healing cycle many times in our lives. It is inevitable that we may be disappointed by others' or by our own behaviour at times. The forgiveness process offers a method of doing "emotional and mental housecleaning", of cleaning up the residues left by this. At first this may mean cleaning our emotional and mental household of the residue of many years of neglected accumulations of distress. It may seem like a big task to some, at the outset. However it can usually be done within a few months. Looking back once it has been done, it does not seem to large as it did at the outset. The amount of time required is probably less than one thirty thousandth part of your life time. Most of us will spend more time drinking tea or coffee than that, certainly more time sleeping! Just for a while, you will need to give it some priority. Most of us will spend more money on maintaining our motor vehicles that on maintaining our most precious possession - our sacred consciousness, our "hearts". It is always important to review how we have rank-ordered our values, and pain, tension, and disease are alerting signals when it is time to do that.
Later, it is just maintenance on a regular basis, becoming almost second nature. The skills, once learned, become as habitual as was the previous habit of storing resentments in the body or having them explode into your life as illness or as disharmony in relationships.
The skill of forgiveness needs to become as ORDINARY as brushing teeth or washing up dishes. NOT any kind of big deal. For everybody, not just in therapy situations. In schools. In families. In Parliaments. Between races and nations.
Link here to go to Demythologising forgiveness - truths and untruths
Link here to return to Forgiveness Programme - Contents
The Need for forgiveness and the Purpose of using a Forgiveness Process
The Healing Journey
Demythologising forgiveness - truths and untruths
Getting your Forgiveness Agenda
Emotional Health - Feelings & befriending the so-called negative emotions
Levels of the Self
The Will & the Mind
Higher Self and some thoughts on Meditation
Patterns of Unconditional Love in Action - The Goodwill Patterns