Examining how our attitudes determine our experiences
ATTITUDE IS EVERYTHING
Forgiveness and the power of choosing to forgive have
been at the core of our work and our lives for more
than four decades. We have often asked ourselves, Can
forgiveness heal the world? especially in the face of horrific
events like the Newtown and Las Vegas massacres or the
deliberate and systematic extermination of a national race,
religious, or cultural population through genocide.
Our egos want us to believe that a positive answer
to this question is simplistic and naïve. Many people
brush it aside as uninformed or just plain ridiculous. Yet
who of us who have personally attested to the power of
forgiveness, either given or received, would dispute that
it can be life-changing?
One of the actions we’ve taken is to initiate and
support the creation of community forgiveness gardens.
Together with inner city children, intergenerational
adults, and local schools, Attitudinal Healing
Connection executive director Amana Harris supervised
just one example. In the process, AHC-Oakland created
seven stages of forgiveness that represent steps taken by
individuals to maintain peace, love, and forgiveness in
their lives: unearthing, perspective, planting, nurturing,
harvesting, sharing, and recycling.
A poignant example of forgiveness comes from a video
that shares the story of Eva Mozes Kor, who suffered the
horrific Josef Mengele twin experiments at Auschwitz
after losing her mother, father, and two sisters in one day.
She and her twin sister survived, but at great physical,
psychological, and emotional costs. Her journey of trying
to heal herself throughout the decades brings her to the
only place where any hope of experiencing inner peace
abides—in her letting go of the horrific past and releasing
herself through forgiveness. She in no way condones or
supports what happened. In fact, she acknowledges it all in
great detail before freeing herself through forgiveness. She
knows that many others may criticize her, but Kor chooses
to be free for herself.
A close friend who sent us the link to Kor’s video spoke
of the one person he has not yet forgiven and said that if
Kor could forgive her horrific past, that he should also be
able to forgive his. He told us a close business associate
had betrayed him two decades ago, threatening him and
his family’s entire way of life. Our friend spoke of how he
struggles with the dilemma of someday meeting his old
associate face to face.
“I really do not know what I will do,” he told us, “because
part of me wants to murder him and the other part wants
to hug him. I am really confused.” We mentioned that
perhaps both reactions were based in two separate parts of
himself. His ego self still wants to murder, while his truer,
spiritual self wants to forgive and embrace this man he
trusted and deeply loved. Both parts of him feel very real.
What he will experience in the future depends on which
side of himself he will choose to feed and identify with.
Likewise, each of us has the choice every time we are
presented with the ego/Spirit dilemma. It’s helpful to
remember that ego decisions are usually based in fear,
while Spirit decisions are based in love. When we choose to
change our minds, we can change our lives. When we offer
unconditional forgiveness to another, we heal—and the
world heals with us.
GERALD JAMPOLSKY, M.D., AND
DIANE CIRINCIONE-JAMPOLSKY, PH.D.,
ARE THE FOUNDERS OF ATTITUDINAL
HEALING INTERNATIONAL. TOGETHER AND
SEPARATELY, THEY’VE AUTHORED 16 BOOKS.
Can Forgiveness Heal the World?
WHEN WE CHOOSE TO
CHANGE OUR MINDS, WE
CAN CHANGE OUR LIVES.