“You may not put down your chalk. You may not return to your desk until you have correctly solved the math problem!” bellowed Sister. Once again, I was losing the math relay for my row of students.
This scenario played out again and again throughout my parochial school years. Math, for me, was a language from another planet. No amount of study or tutoring could make me understand. One Sister, in particular, was merciless in her attempts to make me learn, and those feelings of inadequacy followed me through college and into adulthood.
Six Women Share How to Build a Soul-Sized Agenda for Your Life
The world's major spiritual traditions have long taught the value of forgiveness as a tool for freeing ourselves and others from the tyranny of past judgments and perceptions -- or misperceptions. The traditions may offer different rationales for why we should forgive, and different ways to go about it, but the ultimate goal is strikingly similar.
I agree that forgiveness is an integral part of spiritual life and spiritual living, but there is more to forgiveness than bestowing it, and that is asking for it. When we focus on forgiving others we set up a hierarchy of power: I, the giver of forgiveness, am superior to you, the one who needs my forgiveness.
The memory networks that make up our mind-brain contain energetic ‘cost-benefit’ information that informs us about how much behavioral energy we probably will need to expend in order to get a certain amount of gain in return.
Princeton sociologist Robert Wuthnow finds that 37 percent of us have recently had serious conflicts with a spouse or partner, 36 percent are moving past something painful in our upbringing, and 32 percent face serious conflicts at work. Most of us (60 percent) are trying to forgive someone else and nearly half of us are trying to forgive ourselves. In other words, we Americans are carrying a lot. As it turns out, those who seek help in groups do better than those who try it alone.
You don’t have to crack open a novel or sit down to a movie to get an eyeful of revenge. The desire for revenge is the most powerful cause of violence that has been identified by social psychologists.
Evolutionary science suggests that revenge is a universal trait of human nature that was crafted by natural selection because of the critical problems it solved as our species was evolving. Indeed, research from many corners of the scientific world has recently converged upon the three functions that revenge likely served during human evolution.
Forgiveness is not so much an act as an attitude.