The Forgiveness Process

holding hands forgiveness

“The simple truth is, we all make mistakes, and we all need forgiveness.”

– Desmond Tutu

“I forgive you.”

Those three words may have caused more stress between married couples, family members, co-workers, friends, and especially foes than any others. They are three words that are often very difficult to utter to another human. They are just as difficult to say to ourselves.

Why is it so hard to forgive when forgiveness has so many immediate benefits?

Forgiveness is Healthy!

“Forgive others, not because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace.”

– Mel Robbins

Prominent medical institutions like Johns Hopkins and The Mayo Clinic have examined the positive effects of forgiveness. Medically, practicing the art of forgiveness is a boost to our health. An article from Johns Hopkins states, “Studies have found that the act of forgiveness can reap huge rewards for your health, lowering the risk of heart attack; improving cholesterol levels and sleep; and reducing pain, blood pressure, and levels of anxiety, depression, and stress. And research points to an increase in the forgiveness-health connection as you age.”

It goes on to note that forgiveness is an active process and a conscious decision. We, therefore, can learn to be more forgiving.

The Forgiveness Process Takes Real Effort

“If I make a conscious effort to look at the world through their eyes, I can approach the difficult situation with greater ease. Perhaps I can even forgive those who did not ask for forgiveness.

– Juli Geske-Peer

In chapter two of my book, 5 Senses for Success: Strategies to Thrive in Any Arena, I tell the story of unwanted, aggressive, and frightening encounters I had as a young teen. These experiences haunted me and have stayed with me for a very long time. It took me decades to even begin to try to understand the perspective of my aggressor. I made the effort to think about where he came from and what in his life may have affected his behavior. I also thought about the reactions of those around me at the time.

One important thing to remember about the process of forgiveness is that it does not mean you are weak – nor that you have forgotten. In fact, it takes a great deal of strength and courage to truly forgive. I have not forgotten but I have learned from that traumatic time and I feel I am a better person because of what I CHOSE to take away from it.

How Do Leadership and Forgiveness Connect?

We have all been hurt or disappointed by someone. These experiences happen in every corner of our life. Since we spend a good percentage of our days on-the-job we also experience workplace drama. We encounter employees who hold grudges against management and managers who punish employees for both large and minor infractions.

One of the worst examples of this is the Japanese ‘power harassment’ of workers through shaming. Elaborate methods of shaming have developed including child-like timeouts, wearing ribbons with criticisms on them, or being isolated and ostracized. These activities are meant as methods of behavioral change but do much more harm than good. Some carry with them long-lasting effects like negative self-esteem.

Anyone who may have been placed on a ‘probational’ period at work will understand how demeaning it can feel. You might sense the need to ‘walk on eggshells’ and feel that anything you do is going to be judged more critically than others you work with.

A strong leader offers support and models the behavior they wish to see in their workforce. Collaborative efforts will create better transformation in an employee. Giving people a second chance also affords them the opportunity to perform better.

All that effort put into making someone uncomfortable when energy could be redirected into understanding the issue and finding common ground to build a healthier workplace. It has been shown that positive reinforcement is more powerful than negative consequences.

Healthy Mind, Healthy Workplace

“You cannot serve from an empty vessel.

– Eleanor Brownn

Business leaders carry a lot of responsibilities. They manage their own contributions and the performance of others in the company. Holding onto the burden of resentment and anger will only add to their load and make the atmosphere very heavy for others. It is easy to understand how being in a healthy frame of mind as a leader can also positively affect those around them.

Taking the time to improve our mindset is a crucial first step to forgiving ourselves, and then, others. First, define what you are feeling. Does it stem from disappointment, loss, failure, heartbreak, sadness, grief, anger, pity, or loneliness? Understanding the emotion and what is behind it can be the first step toward achieving forgiveness.

Next, apply this quick list of “6 Ways To Give Your Mind A Break” by Germany Kent. Ms. Kent is an award-winning producer and broadcast and digital Journalist who puts her talents toward unifying diverse voices. You will see how forgiveness makes 2 of her top 6 slots.

1. Stop stressing

2. Stop worrying

3. Give rest to the problems weighing you down

4. Lighten up

5. Forgive yourself

6. Forgive others

Forgiveness and Future Success

“Don’t dwell too much on the past. The lessons are useful for the present and a preparation for the future. Move on!

– Lailah Gifty Akita

According to The Deloitte Millennial Survey, Millennials will comprise 75% of the global workforce by 2025. It is wise, therefore, for leaders to understand what kind of workplace environment is most valued by this demographic. Studies show millennials are looking for work environments where they can be a part of innovation, where they will be listened to, where empathy and flexibility is exhibited, and where they can work collaboratively.

In my April blog, “Feel Your Way to the Top” I discussed the benefits of emotions in the workplace and having a high level of emotional intelligence. Employees cannot check their emotions at the door when they come to work. Being adept at the process of forgiveness is part of emotional intelligence and will be an asset to attracting and keeping a thriving workforce. A highly valued manager will have the ability to see themselves and the people they work with as exactly who they are – humans who are flawed but doing the best they can.

How attractive will it be to recruits when they hear that mistakes and missteps will not live on in blame and shame; that your workplace has understanding leaders who encourage collaboration, give second chances, and welcome risk-taking.

It Begins with You

“Bring it up, make amends, forgive yourself. It sounds simple, but don’t think for a second that it is easy. Getting free from the tyranny of past mistakes can be hard work, but definitely worth the effort. And the payoff is health, wholeness and inner peace. In other words, you get your life back.”

– Steve Goodier

Whether it is for your business or your family at home, practicing forgiveness is an act of self-compassion. It can be developed at any time and its benefits reach out in ripples around us.

Start today by embracing these practices as suggested in the Journey to Leadership Blog:

  • Avoid shifting blame
  • Own and learn from mistakes
  • Be compassionate with yourself and take time to recover
  • See the opportunity to grow
  • Don’t let a negative event or emotion define you
  • As a leader, encourage forgiveness and be a model for forgiveness

And perhaps our own mothers said it best, “You don’t have to be best friends with everyone, but you should always do your best to get along.”

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This Book Could Change Your Perspective on Leadership

How will engaging all of your senses provide support for your journey as a successful leader? Please take a moment to explore my book, 5 Senses for Success: Strategies to Thrive in Any Arena. I am very proud to share these approaches and truly achievable practices that were born out of my own life and career experiences and strategic research. Each of us has it within us to achieve success and create healthier relationships within ourselves and with others

Follow this link for more information.

Juli Geske Peer is a leadership, relationship, and accountability strategist whose professional credentials include two academic degrees, mediator training, train-the-trainer certification, two coaching certifications, numerous other learning and certification accomplishments, and now, author!

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