A Coaching Power Tool Created by Rachna Mimani
(Transformation Coach, INDIA)
Are You Forgiving Or Taking Revenge?
When you begin a journey of revenge, you start by digging two graves: one for your enemy, and one for yourself. ― Jodi Picoult, Nineteen Minutes.
Forgiveness or Revenge both are emotions holding a place in the minds of the human psyche. The meaning of both words has evolved and changed over a period of time. Before we move ahead let me just start by explaining the operational definition of forgiveness and revenge for this to be utilized as a power tool. The below definition is given by Cambridge Dictionary:-
To forgive or to take revenge is one’s personal choice but both come from the inner space of the human mind. It’s about the choice that we make for ourselves. The two feelings are a part of the same human being but it important to understand where these feelings are coming from and how would one feel after they have committed the act of forgiving or taking revenge.
The feelings of revenge come from the place where one is feeling angry, betrayed, resentment or have been at the receiving end of injustice. The act of revenge in this situation acts as an immediate justice to self. The pleasure of seeing the other in the same pain is sometimes satisfying, however, is short-lived and temporary. To feel like taking revenge is a natural feeling. And it’s “okay”, to experience the emotion.
The act of forgiveness comes from a place of compassion towards the other. Forgiving somebody acts as a natural ointment to the wounded. As you forgive you let go of all the hatred, revenge and resentment for the self. The mind, body, and soul are at ease and experiences a sense of freedom. The pain and emotional suffering are released and the forgiver is feeling free.
Which do we take forgive or revenge?
To hold on to the feeling of revenge, anger or resentment is more natural than to forgive someone. I have observed in my practice that when a client comes in they come in really tricky states and are almost acidic in nature and would react to anything in their surroundings. The people in such a state are on the spectrum of being vulnerable to fragile. There is so much they are holding on to that it becomes difficult to let loose. Once on the path to take revenge the person finds it’s okay’ to hurt the other in any sphere of life like career, relationship and business. The person lands here into a dark space and is at low levels of humanity could reach. Everything seems right and “thy vengeance must prevail” is what the person thinks. Interestingly, seeking revenge is not always committing physical harm to others, it’s self-harming and self-bleating also. The person suffers internally and emotionally very much and is in a broken state of self. The act of forgiveness is chosen as the path is empowering and satisfying. There are times when I have people saying that they have forgiven the other but they still have a memory of the hurt feelings and emotionally it’s draining it out. They are unable to take the emotion out of their system. So in order to be able to forgive the other, one has to be an empowered individual and along with forgiveness, one has to also let go of the Baggage of emotions that have been tagging along.
The law of karma in the Hindu dharma also states beautifully, what you give to the other is going to come back to you. So if you give pain, hurt suffering and resentment to others you will also receive the same in your lifetime. Doing the bad Karma and combating it well is not possible. If you commit the wrong you must bear its fruits and if you do the right so shall you reap. The life-changing novel like Secret also says the same thing. The laws of attraction also on the similar hand say that if you think about the good of the others you will also be blessed with the same energy and kindness but if you choose the bad for others it will also happen to you. Forgiving is hard, it comes from being the highest order of humans whereas seeking revenge is easy but can put you in the darkest side of humanity.
Forgiveness is a power tool
In order to have forgiveness as a power tool, the coach has to work with the client and create a space of awareness, acknowledgment, and empowerment of the ability to let go of the emotional feelings attached to the scenario. The model of forgiveness designed by Dr. Robert Enright is a powerful one. The model comprises of four steps.
Steps 1: Uncover:
the feelings of anger, resentment, hurt are explored. This helps to identify how one has avoided or addressed the feelings.
Step 2: decision making:
this all about coming to the conclusion of deciding to forgive the other. The idea of why to forgive is explored, beginning at the acknowledgment that the avoiding, mocking or delaying has not worked so the path ahead is now to forgive.
Step 3: Developing Compassion:
here the client is to develop compassion for the other and try and reflect on the acts which hurt him the most from the point of intent and the situation the other was in and empathize with.
Step 4: Forgive:
The last step is to release all the emotions associated with the incident and reflect on how the act of forgiveness has helped. Look back to see how the experience has changed you on the inside.
Coaching Implication of the tool:
- Raising the Awareness
- Acknowledge the pain. What would you like to do about it now?
- So where do you think the pain is coming from? Can you identify the pain?
- To what extent have you denied - or attempted to forget – that you were offended and the suffering which you have experienced as a result?
- In what ways have you avoided feeling and dealing with anger and suffering?
- In what ways does unresolved anger affect physical and emotional health, relationships, and work productivity?
- To what extent has the offense caused permanent, difficult change(s) in your life?
- How has the offense changed your perception of the worldview?
- How are these negative feelings affecting you? What do they make you feel?
- What would you like to with these feelings?
- How does it affect the offender, if you choose to harbor these feelings?
- If you make a choice today to let go of these feelings today how would your life be?
- Reflections emotions, language, etc back to the client. This helps to check with the client if he /she is ready to make a commitment. How much is the client ready to part with and “letting go”, okay with?
- It’s also important to check with the values and the belief that the client is holding and is ready to overcome any limiting belief h/she has?
- Check to see if the client is ready to make a choice for oneself.
- Do you understand the difference the act of forgiveness will make?
- Do you know the meaning of forgiveness
- If you choose to forgive then how would you like to do it?
- How can you hold yourself accountable for the same?
- Do you have a timeline to reach your outcome?
Conrad W. Baars. Feeling & Healing Your Emotions (Revised edition.) Suzanne Baars& Bonnie Shayne (eds.). Gainesville, FL: Bridge-Logos, 2003.
Robert D. Enright. The Forgiving Life: A Pathway to Overcoming Resentment and Creating a Legacy of Love (APA Lifetools). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2012.
Michael E. McCullough. Beyond Revenge: the instinct of forgiveness, San Francisco, A Wiley Imprint
Dasa, P. ( 2014, Jun 04). Revenge or Forgiveness: Which Road Do You Walk?
M.D., J. O. (08sep2011). The Power of Forgiveness: Why Revenge Doesn’t Work. The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People: psychology today.