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Section 2
Forgiveness and Depression

Question 2 | Test| Table of Contents

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In the last section, we discussed how your thinking coats reality and affects your perception of happiness.

In this section, we will discuss honestly forgiving. One of the most stressful aspects of the holidays is dealing with difficult relatives. Do you agree? Was your house the house to go to?

Forgiveness is an often misused and fearful concept. Here is one way of looking at forgiveness, forgiveness can be a type of arrogance by which you may look with pity on those who "need" forgiving or to forgive. Do you agree? You also may assume that certain behavior must accompany forgiveness. If you forgive someone, you are going to have to spend more time with that person.

Here is an example, if you forgive your mother-in-law for having scolded your one-year old for having thrown up on her new carpet, does this mean you have to spend more time with a woman you don't particularly care for?

This kind of reasoning is of course illogical. To forgive, you may not actually have to do anything. Forgiving can be a shift in your perspective. A way to look at core-level forgiveness is not some futile exercise in rosy holiday self deception. So what is it? On the contrary, core-level forgiveness, I feel, is a calm recognition that, below your personality level, you, I, and even your in-laws or holiday short-tempered significant other are all exactly the same, and somehow connected.

Technique: Visualization
When negative thinking ceases, happiness is already in place. Here's a thought. What if you were to think about happiness as being your normal state of affairs or thought process? Let's do a visualization: Think of happiness like the sun "coming out" from behind clouds. Envision an unhappy incident that happened during the past couple of months?

Take a moment. Can you see yourself or others involved, what they're wearing? What they're saying? What they're doing? How do you feel during this stressed out holiday scene?

Now envision yourself looking up past the ceiling or whatever is overhead and just think, "the sun is shining somewhere." Is there some way you can see this situation, you are terming "unhappy" differently? Is there a way you can view this unhappy situation from a different perspective? It's sort of like letting the sunlight in upon the situation or into your mind. Remember section 1 when we talked about perspective?

The source of any critical thought must be removed before the damage it has caused to our mind can be repaired. What then is the source? Turn the tape player off for a minute and think. How can you let in the sunlight on that event?

Even though the damage may have begun before this holiday season, just remember it is within your ability to alter your thoughts and perceptions and to forgive. When any judgmental train of thought ends, the damage it caused to your mind ends with it. What do you need to do to forgive someone and let go?

Are you unable to forgive because you do not yet want to? You want to hold someone's behavior against him or her, or perhaps against yourself. But is it possible for you to no longer want this?

Yes, it is possible, once you stop and look at what it is doing to your mind, and to your quality of life. Beyond the scope of this holiday focused client training CD, I feel, if you are ever to know a sustained happiness, you must first come to recognize the consequences of the ideas you entertained as welcomed guests. What welcome guest of judgment and lack of forgiveness over the past few months do you wish to have become unwelcome guests?

♦ The Shadow Side
The self-indulgent version of honesty consists of our ego, or shadow side of our personality demanding, loyalty strictly to itself. In the honesty part of forgiveness, the ego's ideal of honesty dictates that encounters and not our thoughts be responded to create our mood. My use of the word ego on this CD set may be confusing to those with a mental health background. By ego, I mean the part of the mind that consists of cognition or thought, perception, defense mechanisms, memory, and motor control.

Think of Christmas morning. Would a simple truth to these everyday kinds of encounters with people be that these people never really seek anything more from us than acceptance and love? Let me repeat that sentence. Would a simple truth to these everyday kinds of encounters with people be that these people never really seek anything more from us than acceptance and love?

You have a choice. You can consult your understanding and good will and respond from love, or you can dredge up your current ego opinion laden defense mechanisms and decide that this filtered version is your "truth." In short, are you responding from love or responding from an accumulation of past perceptions.

♦ Parenting & Forgiveness
Let's take the case of parenting. As I have observed parents interacting with their children in the shopping mall, there is no mistaking which choice some parents make and why many teens walk away from even the most casual of social contacts with their parents feeling more than a little anxious, guilty, and not only slightly misunderstood but majorly misunderstood. You always have the option of not consulting your ego or past perceptions; or seen beyond this and responding from your core. What do I mean by responding from your core?

Think of the last time you interacted with a newborn and saw the light in his or her eyes. The wonder in those eyes, viewing the world for the first time. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the birth of the child, whether they are known to you or not or whether the child is merely in a cart in the checkout line. What is your reaction? What is your feeling? That is your core.

We frequently choose this alternative when dealing with someone very young. We instinctively know to speak to small children out of kindness and happiness. Thus it is always possible to view anything - a new building in town, the lifestyle of certain groups, the climate, the time of day - from our core, instead of from our personal history or current disgruntlements. Of course this viewing from the core implies an attitude towards life and not superficial "nice" words.

It is part of happiness as well as forgiveness to look upon the world the way you allow yourself to look at a small child. Any child can be seen as annoying. Have you been taught to choose this view? Or you can see the blamelessness in the two year old even though this child says "no" to everything.

If you are a parent, your little baby can remain sweet and absolutely pure in your eyes even during a diaper change. If you have experienced this, hold that moment in your awareness as you gazed upon the angelic pure essence of your or another's baby. If you could but take this gaze and turn it upon your world, you probably would have to do little else to be continually and deeply happy and experience true forgiveness of others. It is surprising how bitter many people become. Have you been one of the resentful over the holidays?

Mired in layers of emotion, do you feel quite certain of the carelessness, selfishness, callousness, and even viciousness of another during a time that espouses peace on earth, good will to all? Who knows, you may in fact have guessed correctly about the other's ego or self characteristics. But here's the rub. Where did being right take you except deeper into your holiday doldrums? It's true, we all have an ego, but your petty side, your shadow identity is no better than anyone else's. In this we are all equal.

Have you ever found yourself saying, "I'll forgive you, but I'll never forget"? Is this really forgiving? To truly achieve happiness is to let go. The root meaning of the verb "to forgive" is "to let go, to give up, to cease to harbor." To seek out guilt through grudges is to continue your own misery. Do you agree? Your ego is using these grudges as comparison to build itself up.

What I would like for you to do now is to close your eyes and imagine your grudge personified in your mind. Think about something you feel you could never forgive. Can you see it? Now, visualize pushing that bitter resentment away from, away from your happiness. Whenever you feel a conflict has left a stain on your happiness, just picture yourself letting that stain wash away.

In the next section, we will discuss Christmas Present, to quote an idea from "A Christmas Carol."

Peer-Reviewed Journal Article Reference:
Bailen, N. H., Wu, H., & Thompson, R. J. (2019). Meta-emotions in daily life: Associations with emotional awareness and depression. Emotion, 19(5), 776–787. 

Boden, M. T., & Thompson, R. J. (2015). Facets of emotional awareness and associations with emotion regulation and depression. Emotion, 15(3), 399–410.

Smallen, D. (2019). Practicing forgiveness: A framework for a routine forgiveness practice. Spirituality in Clinical Practice, 6(4), 219–228. 

Tocci, M. C., Converse, P. D., & Moon, N. A. (2020). Core self-evaluations over time: Predicting within-person variability. Journal of Individual Differences, 41(1), 1–

What is true forgiveness? To select and enter your answer go to Test.

Section 3
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