The Forgiveness Solution: The Whole-Body Rx for Finding True Happiness, Abundant Love, and Inner Peaceby Philip H Friedman
Dr. Friedman believes that at the root of almost all emotional problems is unforgiveness (grievances, judgments and attack thoughts) towards others, ourselves, our circumstances, God, anyone or everyone. The Forgiveness Solution is an easy to learn, practical and integrative process whereby we learn to shift and release our perceptions, attitudes, images,
Dr. Friedman believes that at the root of almost all emotional problems is unforgiveness (grievances, judgments and attack thoughts) towards others, ourselves, our circumstances, God, anyone or everyone. The Forgiveness Solution is an easy to learn, practical and integrative process whereby we learn to shift and release our perceptions, attitudes, images, energy and distressing feelings (anger, guilt, hurt, shame, anxiety, panic, trauma etc) and simultaneously re-empower ourselves by choosing and deciding to forgive. He teaches us many powerful exercises, tools and techniques that show us exactly how to forgive rather than just talking about forgiveness. In The Forgiveness Solution Dr. Friedman introduces us to the new, highly effective healing techniques of Transformational Forgiveness and Energetic Forgiveness. When we forgive we find within ourself the capacity to feel an authentic sense of peace and contentment when thinking about the person or situation we previously perceived as hurting or harming us while giving up the desire for retribution, punishment, or harm. This almost always leads to much greater happiness and joy. The next step in the Forgiveness Solution process is learning to develop positive, compassionate and often loving feelings toward the people and circumstances (including ourselves) that we previously perceived as hurtful. Finally, we learn to interpret and then realize that these upsetting experiences are opportunities for profound personal and spiritual healing and growth.
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The Forgiveness Solution
The Whole-Body Rx for Finding True Happiness, Abundant Love, and Inner Peace
By Philip Friedman
Red Wheel/Weiser, LLCCopyright © 2009 Philip Friedman
All rights reserved.
Where Are You Now? Some Basic Self-Assessments
"What could you want [that] forgiveness cannot give? Do you want peace? Forgiveness offers it. Do you want happiness (consider that forgiveness offers it), a quiet mind (could forgiveness offer that too), a certainty of purpose, and a sense of worth and beauty that transcends the world? Do you want care (being cared after), safety, and the warmth of sure protection always? Do you want a quietness that cannot be disturbed, a gentleness that never can be hurt, a deep abiding comfort, and a rest so perfect it can never be upset? All this forgiveness offers you and more."
—Robert Perry, Return to the Heart of God
"The end result of all 'unfair' pain and suffering is burning hurt and resentments. You have carried these resentments for years.... To heal from them, you must forgive the individuals involved. Until you are willing and able to forgive fully, you weigh down your soul with these prisoners."
—Caroline Myss, Entering the Castle
This and every chapter begins with a story. You will notice that I often provide no commentary for these stories. They are here to set the mood and offer hope. Let them just wash over you.
In his book The Code: Use the Laws of Manifestation to Achieve Your Highest Good, Tony Burroughs has Alan tell his forgiveness story:
When I first decided to serve others, I didn't realize that it also included forgiving them. I thought I would help them out by cleaning or running errands or doing whatever they wanted, but what I came to understand was that I could help them in other ways as well.
The instance that brought all this home to me was when I made an intention to help my aging mother. In 1998, I gave up my own apartment, moved in with my mom, and began to prepare her food, bathe her, and do all of the things necessary to make her last days as comfortable as possible. Up until then, I really hadn't made much of an effort to get close to her. She lived three states away, and we really didn't get along all that well anyway. In truth, there were long periods of time when we never spoke at all because I was still carrying a lot of anger toward her for things she'd done to me as a child. Mainly, I never understood how she could just stand by and let my father abuse me like he did.
But in the last few weeks of her life, as she lay in her deathbed with me sitting in the chair beside her, we began to talk about some of the things that we might not have otherwise spoken about. One particular evening after we finished eating and our barriers were lower than usual, I asked her why she let my dad beat me without ever coming to my rescue. Her answer showed me a side of her I never knew existed.
She explained that she was just as afraid of him as I was, that he beat her and threatened her too, and that he was always very careful not to let anyone else know about it. She was so sorry, she said, but at the time she was totally incapable of giving me the love I needed because she was in fear for her own safety.
She started to cry when she told me the details. I felt such compassion for her, laying there in her bed like that, waiting to die any day. But, most of all, I felt sorry because we'd never talked like this before. When her tears stopped, and as I was wiping them from her cheeks, she touched my arm with her frail hand and asked me to forgive her for not being a good mother. She said she really loved me, both then and now, and that it would mean a lot to her if I could find forgiveness in my heart for her.
I didn't move except to brush away the tears from my own eyes. Suddenly, a very emotional experience when I was a teenager came to mind. My mother was in a bad mood and had punished me for something I was innocent of. It was in that moment that I had decided, resolutely, to put her out of my life. Now, however, as I recalled that highly-charged event, I was able to see the unhappiness in her face that I didn't see before. I never knew she was that unhappy.
As my vision of the past receded, she looked up at me from her bed, our eyes met, and I told her that I forgave her, not just for that instance, but for everything uncaring she'd ever done to me. Then I leaned down to hug her, and as I did, it felt like a great weight was lifted from my chest. We both wept some more that night, and, after that, something shifted in me ... and in her. From then on, until the time she passed away, she was much calmer and at peace. The way I see it, our forgiveness healed us both.
—Alan Matousek, Birmingham, AL
Assessing Where You Are
I thought we would start with some good assessment exercises. These will help you determine where you are in the forgiveness process and where you are with a number of different issues related to forgiveness, such as happiness, wellbeing, and general life satisfaction. I don't advise skipping this chapter. The questionnaires here can offer you much insight into your life and frame of mind and will also help you later to measure your progress.
Please copy the checklists and scales so you can retake them as you wish.
The following two checklists will give you a general sense of how forgiving you are. You may think you already know this, and you may be very surprised.
Next to each item, I would like you to put a number from 0 to 4: 4 indicates very much, 3 indicates a great deal, 2 indicates somewhat, 1 indicates a little bit, and 0 indicates not at all. In the past week, I experienced the following:
_____Overall Psychological Distress
_____Anger and Resentment
_____Vulnerability and Fear
_____Negative Attitudes and Beliefs
_____Anxiety in General
_____Ruminating (dwelling on things) and Obsessing
_____Interpersonal Sensitivity (e.g., your feelings being easily hurt)
_____Physical or Health Problems
_____Tendency toward Revenge
_____Tendency toward Avoidance
Now add up the 20 numbers on this checklist to get your
Total Negative Score_____(the total score ranges from 0 to 80).
Now try this one. Next to each of these items, put a number from 0 to 4: 4 indicates very much, 3 indicates a great deal, 2 indicates somewhat, 1 indicates a little bit, and 0 indicates not at all. In the past week, I experienced the following quality, feeling, or attitude:
_____Gratitude and Appreciation
_____Positive Quality of Life
_____General Sense of Well-Being
_____Satisfaction with Life
_____Positive Beliefs and Attitudes
_____Self-Worth and Self-Esteem
_____Positive Mental Health
_____Sense of Meaning and Purpose in Life
_____Love of Others
_____Love of Self
Now add up the 20 numbers on this checklist to get your
Total Positive Score_____(the total score ranges from 0 to 80).
Now subtract your Total Negative Score from your Total Positive Score to get your
TOTAL SCORE_____(this score will range from -80 to 80).
The higher your score, the more likely you are a very forgiving person. The lower your score, the more likely it is that you are holding on to unforgiveness. As you know by now, being chronically unforgiving has a number of negative effects in our lives. The correlations are summarized in diagram 1.
Forgiving people tend to be much more optimistic, hopeful, and trusting and have high levels of self-worth and positive beliefs. Forgiving people are also much likelier to be warmer, friendlier, loving, peaceful, and joyful. They have a greater self-esteem and self-worth, are more empathetic, and have a greater sense of meaning and purpose in life.
On the other hand, people who are unforgiving are much more likely to experience emotional distress in general and, specifically, higher levels of depression, anxiety, guilt, anger, and resentment. They are also more likely to be hostile, vengeful, and vulnerable and to frequently ruminate and obsess over perceived hurts. Unforgiving people also have more physical symptoms, according to the scientific research, and are more interpersonally and emotionally sensitive than forgiving people.
You may experience all or some of these negative feelings and beliefs and some or all of the positive ones. Wherever you are is okay. We're just trying to identify your starting point. This says nothing about your character or whether you are a good person. It is so important not to judge yourself.
I encourage you to come back to these checklists and fill them out weekly or monthly to see where you are and how much progress you have made as we go through the exercises in the book together.
Subjective Happiness Scale (SHS)
This scale was developed by Sonya Lyubomirsky and is widely used by happiness researchers. For each of the following statements and/or questions, please circle the point on the scale that you feel is most appropriate in describing you.
An average score on the SHS questionnaire is 19 or 20. A low score is in the range of 12 to 15. A very low score is less than 12. A high score is in the range of 24 to 26. A very high score would be 27 or 28. The higher the number, the greater your overall happiness.
Lyubomirsky, S., and H. Lepper, "A Measure of Subjective Happiness: Preliminary Reliability and Construct Validation," Social Indicators Research 46, no. 2 (February, 1999): 137–155. Adapted slightly with kind permission from Springer Science+Business Media.
Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS)
This scale was developed by Ed Diener and his colleagues. It has been very widely used for many years by researchers in the field of subjective well-being. I recommend you take it weekly or at least every four or five weeks. My clients retake it every five weeks.
Please write down the number that most accurately reflects your opinions in the space next to each item.
_____ 1. In most ways my life is close to ideal.
_____ 2. The conditions of my life are excellent.
_____ 3. I am satisfied with my life.
_____ 4. So far I have gotten the important things I want in life.
_____ 5. If I could live my life over, I would change almost nothing.
Add up the numbers from the five items to get your
Satisfaction with Life (SWLS) Total Score _____
Your score will be a gauge of your overall satisfaction: 31 to 35 is Extremely satisfied, 26 to 30 is Satisfied, 21 to 25 is Slightly satisfied, 20 is Neutral, 15 to 19 is Slightly dissatisfied, 10 to 14 is Dissatisfied, and 5 to 9 is Extremely dissatisfied. The higher the number, the greater the life satisfaction.
Diener, E., R. A. Emmons, R. J. Larsen, and S. Griffin, "The Satisfaction with Life Scale," Journal of Personality Assessment 49, no. 1 (1985): 71–75. Reproduced by permission of Taylor and Francis, LLC, www.taylorandfrancis.com.
The Gratitude Questionnaire (GQ6)
This scale was developed by Michael McCullough and Robert Emmons and their colleagues. Again, it is widely used by researchers in the field of subjective well-being, happiness, and positive psychology. I recommend retaking it weekly or at least every four or five weeks. My clients retake it every five weeks.
Using the scale below as a guide for questions 1 through 4, write a number beside each statement to indicate how much you agree with it.
_____ 1. I have so much in life to be thankful for.
_____ 2. If I had to list everything in life I had to be grateful for, it would be a very long list.
_____ 3. I am grateful for a wide variety of people.
_____ 4. As I get older, I find myself more able to appreciate the people, events, and situations that have been part of my life history.
Using the scale below as a guide for questions 5 and 6, write a number beside each statement to indicate how much you agree with it.
_____ 5. When I look at the world, I don't see much to be grateful for.
_____ 6. Long amounts of time go by before I feel grateful to something or someone.
Add up your scores for questions 1 through 6 to get your
Gratitude Questionnaire (GQ6) Total Score_____(this number should be between 6 and 42).
An average score for the GQ6 Scale is 37. A low score is 29 to 30. A very low score is below 29. A high score is 40 to 41. A very high score is 42. The higher the number, the more grateful you are. The lower the number, the less grateful you are.
Copyright 2002 by the American Psychological Association. McCullough, M. E., R. A. Emmons, and J. Tsang. "The Grateful Disposition: A Conceptual and Empirical Topography," Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 82, no. 1 (2002): 112–127. Adapted with permission.
How Forgiving Are You?
The next questionnaire is very important because it measures how forgiving you are in general, not just how well you can forgive a particular person or yourself on one particular occasion. It is called the Heartland Forgiveness Scale and it was developed by Laura Thompson and her colleagues to help people discover how forgiving they are in three important areas: forgiving themselves, forgiving someone else, and forgiving uncontrollable circumstances.
Because I will be asking you to fill it out again later you will want to make a number of copies of it before filling it in.
You can also take the Heartland Forgiveness Scale on the Internet by going to www.forgivenesssolution.com. Click on the link for "questionnaires" and then on the link for the Heartland Forgiveness Scale. You will not only be able to fill out the Heartland Forgiveness Scale online but also have it scored automatically for you.
The Heartland Forgiveness Scale (HFS)
Directions: In the course of our lives, negative things may occur because of our own actions, the actions of others, or circumstances beyond our control. For some time after these events, we may have negative thoughts or feelings about ourselves, others, or the situation. Think about how you typically respond to such negative events.
On the line next to each of the following items, write the number (from the 7-point scale below) that best describes how you typically respond to the type of negative situation described. There are no right or wrong answers. Please be as open as possible in your answers.
_____ 1. Although I feel bad at first when I mess up, over time I can give myself some slack.
_____ 2. I hold grudges against myself for negative things I've done.
_____ 3. Learning from bad things that I've done helps me to get over them.
_____ 4. It is really hard for me to accept myself once I've messed up.
_____ 5. With time, I am understanding of myself for mistakes I've made.
_____ 6. I don't stop criticizing myself for negative things I've felt, thought, said, or done.
_____ 7. I continue to punish a person who has done something that I think is wrong.
_____ 8. With time, I am understanding of others for the mistakes they've made.
_____ 9. I continue to be hard on others who have hurt me.
_____ 10. Although others have hurt me in the past, I have eventually been able to see them as good people.
_____ 11. If others mistreat me, I continue to think badly of them.
_____ 12. When someone disappoints me, I can eventually move past it.
_____ 13. When things go wrong for reasons that can't be controlled, I get stuck in negative thoughts about it.
_____ 14. With time, I can be understanding of bad circumstances in my life.
_____ 15. If I am disappointed by uncontrollable circumstances in my life, I continue to think negatively about them.
_____ 16. I eventually make peace with bad situations in my life.
_____ 17. It's really hard for me to accept negative situations that aren't anybody's fault.
_____ 18. Eventually, I let go of negative thoughts about bad circumstances that are beyond anyone's control.
Excerpted from The Forgiveness Solution by Philip Friedman. Copyright © 2009 Philip Friedman. Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
Philip Friedman, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist and psychotherapist. He has been practicing psychotherapy and healing for 30-plus years in Philadelphia and environs. He is on the Adjunct Faculty of the Institute for Transpersonal Psychology, a Diplomate in Comprehensive Energy Psychology as well as the executive director of the Foundation for Well-Being and the author of the book Creating Well Being: The Healing Path to Love, Peace, Self-Esteem and Happiness (1989). Dr. Friedman has published over 30 articles in professional journals, magazines and books and is one of the founders of Integrative Psychotherapy and Integrative Healing, modalities that he first developed in the late 1970's and early 1980's. He has published original research on forgiveness in a clinical population showing that dramatic changes are possible in a relatively short period of time. Dr. Friedman has been a frequent guest on radio and T.V. In addition to his extensive training as a clinical psychologist and psychotherapist, Dr. Friedman has developed the Friedman Assessment Scales on Well-Being, Beliefs, Quality of Life, Affect and Personal/Spiritual Growth. He is trained in cognitive-behavior therapy, multi-modal therapy, marital and family systems therapy and many alternative energy and spiritual therapeutic or healing techniques, including the Emotional Freedom Techniques, Tapas Acupressure Technique, Advanced Integrative Therapy, Integrative Energy Therapy, Reiki, Neuro-Emotional Technique, Meditation, Yoga and others. Some of the strongest influences on his work have been his early training in the work of Attitudinal Healing developed by Gerald Jampolsky. He is also the founder of thePositive Pressure Point Techniques or PPPT.
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The Forgiveness Solution is a very powerful book that offers practical tools to create well-being. This book shows you how to transform the daily stress and aggravation from encountering rudeness, broken agreements, or from unfulfilled expectations, into peace and love. Or on a deeper level, it can help you forgive those who have deeply hurt, abused, or betrayed you, so that you can heal. You'll also pinpoint areas where you need to forgive yourself for past mistakes. You'll discover how you really are about letting go of past hurts, and uncover areas where you're incomplete. Dr Friedman then provides visualizations, journal exercises, affirmations and positive pressure point techniques to help you resolve past issues so that you can feel peaceful and experience more love. You can use these tools on a daily basis to shift automatic negative reactions into positive ones. They will help you return back to your core Self. Sometimes the most difficult relationships offer the greatest healing opportunities. The stories illustrate how past challenges have made you stronger, wiser, and a better person, so that you can shift your perspective. You can release feeling victimized and feel empowered. The writing is clear, concise and easy to read and each chapter builds upon the next. Although it is very spiritual, it is not religious or dogmatic. What I enjoyed most was the general tone of the book. It is so filled with compassionate wisdom and advice that just by reading it I was able to feel the Divine Order in my life. The Forgiveness Solution rates five stars. Whether you need to learn how to forgive a reckless driver for cutting you off on the highway or your mate for cheating on you, this book will help you feel happier and fulfilled. It will also help you shift to a higher level of awareness. I highly recommend that everyone should read it.
What I love most about this book is that you can quickly put it to pratical use in helping you become more forgiving. The style of engaging story followed by simple yet profound exercises had me feeling better within the first few minutes of reading. This is my new go-to book on feeling better and working through any issues that I have. You will not only enjoy reading it but also the experiences that come from your interaction with the book.
As a musician, performer, writer, coach and creative person, I am on a life long quest for deeper and deeper connection to my inner source of inspiration. Through my ongoing commitment to live a fulfilling life rich with love, peace, joy, health and abundance, I have learned that these are not things to 'get' in life, but rather, a way to 'be' and a place to 'come from.' Being forgiving has sometimes felt like a hard thing to do - with others, but mostly, with myself. Dr. Friedman not only breaks down the process into simple, do-able steps, he practically holds your hand through the entire journey. His treasure trove of forgiveness exercises progresses organically and I found tremendous relief in knowing I was not alone in my life experiences, through reading April's responses to each exercise throughout. This reinforced Dr. Friedman's assurances that there is no right or wrong way to forgive. As he promised in his Introduction, I not only benefitted from each exercise, but I was present to a powerful, uplifting energy which propelled me forward through the work. While I don't necessarily have a favorite exercise, I found the use of Afformations, the Psychological Uplifter and the repeated practice of Positive Pressure Point Techniques throughout the day to be very effective. As I progressed, I became aware of a level of acceptance and compassion for myself that was surprisingly authentic and life-changing. I can see how continued practice of Dr. Friedman's exercises and techniques, and repeated reads of his heart-opening book (which he advises) will continue to provide me, truly, with the 'keys to the kingdom' and enable me to live in a continual and spontaneous state of forgiveness, both for myself and others. I thank Dr. Friedman for this compelling opportunity to heal and expand my inner light and I challenge every human being to take on this gift of The Forgiveness Solution.
This is a wonderful book. It's easy to read, has great stories and examples. But the best parts for me are all the useful tools to help with the process of forgiveness which people often struggle with. There's a view or way to see it for everyone. We're not all alike and a 'one size fits all' doesn't really work for something as complicated and deep as forgiveness. So the book has a lot of different exercises to help with the process. And if one doesn't work for you, then there are others to try, plus in working through the book, you'll find parts that really work well and they will build on each other as you go along. You'll feel a sense of accomplishment at every chapter. Also, the book has ways for you to track your progress through questionnaires and journaling. It's so obvious in reading the book that the author really cares and wants to help. His skill, understanding and expertise is only topped by his compassion and caring. This is a must buy book for anyone struggling with hurts and resentments.
The Forgiveness Solution provides a masterful set of techniques that help people move out of emotional pain and distress -- and all the associated symptoms of depression, anxiety, guilt, shame, anger and addictions. The key concept here is that we can release the grip of burdens from our past by working with tried-and-true stress relieving processes to gradually move out of fear and into a state of love and forgiveness. The Forgiveness Solution works with readers from all walks of life, degrees of pain, and spiritual (and non-spiritual) paths, to provide a veritable smorgasbord of winning techniques to assist people with letting go of fixating on painful aspects of the past. Some of the tools provided include: meditations, practicing forgiveness, working with pressure points, and setting goals. A self-assessment exercise at the beginning of the book assists readers in getting a better grasp of where they are in the process of forgiveness, in order that they can better get a sense of the big picture as well as envision being free from emotional turmoil and stress. One recommended process described in Friedman's book is Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) which is a method of tapping certain points on one's body while stating positive, targeted affirmations. Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) has gained a tremendous following recently, as people experience the powerful positive transformation possible in minutes for relief of long-held patterns of trauma and stress, and The Forgiveness Solution provides readers with everything they need to utilize this powerful tapping tool to clear all manner of emotional triggers and issues on their own. I highly recommend The Forgiveness Solution for anyone who has felt held back by experiences from the past. The Forgiveness Solution stands out as an exceptionally useful book for anyone who wishes to release negative emotional and behavioral patterns, and confidently stride forward into a positive future.