Acceptance, Forgiveness and Reconciliation: Part Two
In last week’s blog we looked at forgiveness and the benefits of forgiveness. Today we will further discuss the model of acceptance, which some people prefer over the model of forgiveness. We will also explore reconciliation.
Acceptance is seeing things or a thing as it is. In his book The Power of Now: A guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, Eckhart Tolle tells about living in the now, and speaks about acceptance as, “…the moment that judgment stops through acceptance of what is, you are free of the mind. You have made room for love, for joy, for peace.”
Acceptance is very close to forgiveness. One may arrive at the same place by following a different path. If someone has done you wrong, you have a choice to forgive the person and the wrong. You also have the choice to accept what the situation is, including what was done and the person who did it.
Acceptance is another way of making peace and living without resentment, anger, and the anxiety created by a restless mind thinking of revenge. When we hold negative thoughts, even toward another, we hold them within ourselves. This creates a tension in the body, and the body does not know or understand the source of the tension. As far as the body knows, there could be a lion chasing you through the jungle, explaining why you don’t sleep, why you eat poorly, have a rapid heart rate, and have irregular breathing. The body does not know you are unable to accept things as they are.
The first step is yours. If you wait for “the other person” to reach out to you, you may never find the peace you need and deserve. Time is of the essence when reaching out. True, you can reach out at any time, even decades later, but the longer you wait, the harder it will be to take that first step.
The first step in reaching out is to ensure that the lines of communication are open and that the other person knows this. Communication is the essence of any relationship; without it, the situation becomes nearly hopeless, and the thought of reconciliation and forgiveness is even more dire. Listening is perhaps the most important thing that you can do when reaching out to another person. You will need to understand the other person’s side of the story, and often times the only way to do this is to stop talking and start listening.
Here are some hints for becoming a more active listener:
- Stop talking
- Listen for what is not said
- Listen to how something is said
- Give the other person your undivided attention
- Leave your emotions behind
- Don’t jump to conclusions
- Ask the other person questions
Reconciliation and rapprochement are often used interchangeably. They both refer to a process of restoring harmony. Learning to trust again after being betrayed is one of the most difficult aspects of being human. It is like being a severely wounded soldier and walking haggardly in front of the stern enemy, empty-handed, arms extended toward them, and pleading for a cease-fire. But that trust is essential for forgiveness, acceptance and healing. It is essential to the interpersonal process. It is essential for you to be able to move on. It is essential for healthy self-esteem.
Likewise, it takes integrity and courage to have broken the bond of trust with someone and return to them with the invitation of an apology and a new beginning. Trust involves risk, and trusting after betrayal involves even greater risk. Trusting that you can make and keep a promise also involves considerable risk. It means putting yourself “out there” again, sometimes with the same people who betrayed you in the first place. It means putting yourself “out there” with the same people you betrayed.
Conflict Resolution Centers throughout the United States offer assistance in many areas of addressing conflict between people. The Restorative Justice Movement began in the 1970’s and has become increasingly more popular as a way for victims and their perpetrators to restore harmony outside of purely legal remedies. Legal remedies address the law. This includes: Who did it? What did they do? What type of punishment is deserved?
Within the theoretical framework of Restorative Justice, different questions are posed and different solutions are sought. The following ideas, taken from the Restorative Justice principles, can help you in your reconciliation peace-making attempts with others, even if a crime (in the legal definition) was not committed.
The Restorative Justice Movement consists of groups of individuals who may be attorneys, psychologists, psychiatrists, judges, and others who are interested in finding alternatives to anger and the handling of conflict. Because it is a movement and a series of strategies, there is no one organization behind it. It is an emerging field related to mediation, dispute resolution, and transformative justice.
The goal of restorative justice is to serve both the victim and the offender. Many of the principles come from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa, but many countries in the world have made a contribution to is usefulness.
Here are the basic considerations and principles:
- Who has been hurt?
- What are their needs?
- What can be done to repair the harm?
- Restorative Justice views crime as a violation of people and relationships, rather than solely a violation of the law.
- Restorative Justice believes violations cause harm and create obligations. This is in contrast to the legal justice system that creates guilt.
- Restorative Justice involves victims, offender, and community members in an effort to put things right. The legal justice system requires the State to determine blame (guilt) and impose pain (punishment).
- Restorative Justice focuses on addressing a victim’s needs and offenders taking responsibility for repairing harm. The criminal justice approach has a central focus of giving criminals or offenders what they deserve under the law.
Nanette Burton Mongelluzzo
For more information you can read some of the following books:
Tolle, Eckhart. The Power of Now. Novato, CA.: New World Library, 1999
Burton Mongelluzzo, Nanette. The Everything Guide to Self-Esteem. Avon, Mass.: Adams Media, 2011
Goldstein, Elisha. The Now Effect: How a Mindful Moment Can Change the Rest of Your Life. Atria Books, 2012
Zehr, Howard. The Little Book of Restorative Justice. Anderson Press, 2002.
Burton Mongelluzzo, N. (2012). Acceptance, Forgiveness and Reconciliation: Part Two. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 20, 2018, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/angst-anxiety/2012/03/acceptance-forgiveness-and-reconciliation-part-two/