How we handle pain and hurt caused by others was the topic of a Zoom presentation on Thursday, August 24.
Jacqueline Ingham, a licensed social worker and psychotherapist, spoke about “The Art of Forgiving.” The Central Queens Jewish Community Circle sponsored the meeting.
There are two components to forgiveness. One is compassion. We don’t have to agree with what they did and can hold them accountable. “It means we understand the root of the problems and how they were created, rather than looking at their actions and surface behavior. This helps us find productive, long-term solutions.”
The other is acceptance, which “means to fully accept things as they are instead of ignoring, avoiding, or wishing the situation was different. Rejecting reality doesn’t change reality. Rejecting reality turns pain into suffering.” “Acceptance is a critical step in reducing our own suffering,” said Ingham. “It does not mean that we accept or agree with a damaging behavior.”
If someone cuts himself and does not treat the wound, or picks at the wound, he is “creating suffering.” “Life comes with pain” but “suffering is in our control.”
“Radical Acceptance is the skill of accepting things that we can’t change” or like. Life can be worth living even with painful events in it. “Acceptance can mean to acknowledge, to recognize, to endure, to not give up or give in.
“Resentment is the opposite of letting go.” “It can be detrimental to our mental and emotional well-being,” which can lead to “prolonged negativity, strained relationships, and hinder our personal growth.”
“Holding onto resentment is not forgiving. Resentment only hurts us, and it fills us with anger and hurt.” “In some ways, we are the ones who are hurting ourselves more than anyone else can.”
“Forgiveness does not mean forgetting or excusing the harm done to you. It also doesn’t necessarily mean making up with the person who caused you the harm. Forgiveness brings a kind of peace that allows you to focus on yourself and helps you move forward in life.”
The only control we have is over ourselves. How do we want to interpret and feel about other people’s deeds and words? “We need to take ourselves out of it and not internalize it.” Something might be going on within the person causing harm. Or we might have triggers from the past or the current situation.
People need to decide if they want to keep a relationship if someone is not nice to them. “Do I want to approach the situation and talk with them about whatever is going on? Or do I want to think about things differently and not internalize what they are saying? There are so many different routes in handling the situation, really depending on how you’re internalizing it,” said Ingham.
Ingham asks her clients to practice Mindfulness, which is “observing, worthless watching, or describing, putting words on the experience, staying in the moment. “At the same time, we are not judging, we’re staying focused, and we’re doing what works.”
Five minutes of Mindful Meditation ended the session. Participants were asked to picture someone who hurt them, tune in to the body’s sensations, be aware of emotions and thoughts, feel the burden of holding onto past hurts, and ask oneself: “Who is suffering? Am I willing to forgive?”
The presentation is part of the Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) that Jacqueline Ingham practices. DBT is a type of psychotherapy that helps people learn how to manage their emotions, tolerate distress, and improve their relationships. It is based on the idea that everyone experiences negative emotions.
Rebbetzin Mushky Mendelson said, “With the world going upside down the past few years, it feels so much is out of our control.” “There is also a lot in our control, mostly how we think and feel, and thus how we act.”
The Central Queens Jewish Community Circle was founded in 2019 by Rebbetzin Mushky Mendelson of Congregation Machane Chodosh in Forest Hills. Their mission is to help combat isolation and loneliness by reaching out to vulnerable neighbors with holiday gift packages and wellness webinars. They also connect people to resources and coordinate a weekly distribution of clothing for those in need, according to their website,
For more information, contact Rebbetzin Mendelson at 917-754-3006 or visit www.cqjcc.org.
By David Schneier