A Message from Rabbi Rami Shapiro About Getting Started

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JeniferW
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A Message from Rabbi Rami Shapiro About Getting Started

While each of us must do the work of the Forgiveness Challenge for ourselves, we don't have to do it by ourselves. We are in this together, and the purpose of this Forum is to remind us of that, and to lean on one another a bit. The more you participate in the Forum the easier this will be for you. Participation doesn't mean you have to write every day or even at all. You may gain a lot of support by simply reading what others are writing. Of course if no one writes . . . But I don't anticipate that. I just know that some of us are not drawn to sharing, and that's fine. Give what you can and take what you need.

To get started you might want to share with us your intention for the Challenge—not simply to complete it, but what you are hoping to get out of completing it. And along the same lines, what obstacles you anticipate running into.

In addition, I’m asking that if you do post to the Forum, you remain respectful of the rest of us. The only guideline I offer is this: Don't fix anyone. You may read something that someone wrote and you are convinced you can fix them if they would just follow your advice. Pass on that. Share your story: what you were like, what you did, and what you are like now, but don't take on the role of pastor or psychotherapist. OK. Let's get started!

Monica Ash
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Intention

I guess I'll be the first to jump into the discussion.  The intention I set for this Forgiveness Challenge is: 

To live life a little more fully by releasing regret, sorrow, and guilt. To cultivate greater compassion towards others and, especially, myself.
 
I think practically, I would like to try to improve my relationships with a couple family members that feel strained, but also to continue to find ways for self-healing, as I find it easier to have compassion for others than for myself.  I think, for me, the biggest obstacle I foresee may be the humbling, asking forgiveness, "body" practice--for people I trust and am close to I don't foresee a problem, but as we go outward to people I don't trust or don't know, I think I will feel more and more vulnerable and uncomfortable.  So that's making me a little nervous at the moment.
 
mov106
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Humbling

I agree with the humbling aspect.  Intellectualizing doing this and PRACTICALLY doing the humbling are two different things.  The degree to which I am feeling resistant is surprising to me.  Kind of makes me want to give up before I start.  Anyone else in this boat?  Any suggestions?

Monica Ash
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Humbling...

I did it for the first time this morning to an intimate family member they said, "No" and laughed and hugged me and told me they loved me.  So it was a little weird.  I think it will maybe get less weird.  But I do feel like you feel--when I saw we actually were requested to do it, it seemed insurmountable and I felt sick to my stomach.  But the Rabbi did say it was a process and maybe we won't be able to do all the work in 21 days--that's this is just getting us in the habit to do it. I'm on a spiritual retreat today and tomorrow with close friends, so I hope to get each alone and try to do it with them.  But the reality is, the people I really need to say it to are the ones I suspect won't have the courage to.  I might be able to do two by email (I know he said not to do impersonal means) but maybe I have to give myself a little grace on this and let the rules slide a little bit.  This is a process of building internal fortitude as well, and I don't feel very courageous!  :D

mpo273
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Hello-I will share my

Hello-

I will share my intention for this challenge which is to try to understand more about forgiveness as a practice and a concept. 

My goal will be to be open to bringing what I learn into my life and working with it.

I hope your retreat is fruitful and that the prctice of asking forgiveness among those you are close to brings you  renewal.

I too am very intimidated to ask forgiveness. Not for those who are nearer to me. Asking forgiveness of those from whom I feel hurt opens me up to the vulnerability that makes

reconciliation possible but also the real risk of being taken advanatge of -

I will begin with easier people in my life,knowing that these others are maybe a better place to go after I have practiced a bit.

How will I approach someone I do not know well???!!!   :)  let the journey begin!

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Resistance

I am definitely in the same boat - resisting this and feeling surprised by it. I find that when I actually look at the information and go over it, I feel better.

But when I focus on those I want to forgive, I feel sadness.

 

t

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Just a quick word

I do my best to avoid Internet during Shabbat, so I will be shutting down in an hour or so. I wanted to jump in if only to say hello to all of you participating in the Challenge. I cannot emphasize how important humbling can be. But we have to make it clear that we are not talking about dis-empowerment, especially in those cases where your lack of power was used against you. Being humble is not the same as being powerless or abandoning self-care. It is giving up attempts to control others. Being humble is being aware of our inability to manipulate things and people to accomplish our desires. The less I try to control the world, the freer I am to navigate the world.

Good Shabbos. I'm check back on Sunday.

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Being Humble

Thank you for that wonderful reminder of what it means to be humble. I especially like your expression on control; how very true. I practiced asking for forgiveness with my 4-year old grand daughter. Earlier she informed me that I had 'hurt her feelings.' I sincerely asked her to forgive me for doing that. It was wonderful to see her softening and letting me know, that yes, she had forgiven me. 

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Monica Ash
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Humbling troubles...

I shared the practice with 5 close friends at a retreat this past weekend.  3 went well.  Another went OK but led to a way too long male /female hug where I felt like that cat in the Pepe Le Pew cartoon.  Another went not well where a good friend refused it entirely on the basis that she doesn't believe in forgiveness nor humbling (she referred to it as "groveling") and she was not going to participate in the practice (by permitting me to say the words to her.)  And yes, that was a very humbling lesson--to accept her resistance and criticism with an open and loving heart and respecting her beliefs and opinions even though it was a complete rejection of mine.  And the issue wasn't that she had any hard feelings against me, she just disagreed with the practice.  Reflecting on the rejection situation, now a day later, it still feels awful, especially since this was my "safe group" of people.  So now I'm a bit "gun shy" so to speak.  :/  I'll try to continue the practice, but not today.

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Getting started

I admire  and am inspired and motivated by your courageous postings!  I found that in the first few days, I was more resistant than ever and more angry at those who have wronged me than I have been in a long time.  It was an interesting observation and it made me think about how I might really be fighting the call to humility and why I find that frightening.  I have decided to write the letters of forgiveness (day 4) in two Valentine's Day cards, and part of that reasoning is to delay the action and I am curious about how I will feel once they have been written and mailed.  Yesterday I called a friend and apologized for the impatience in my voice when we were at an event earlier.  To my surprise and delight she laughed and said she probably deserved it (it was really a very, very minor incident) and then we made plans to do something together.  

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Intention/goals

My intentions: to feel forgiveness in my cells, to practice it, to understand it

My goals: To learn about forgiveness within an intimate relationship, what is forgiveness without forgetting, what is the skilful action to take 'after' forgiveness

joyfulfire
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worries

here are the things I worry about when asking for forgiveness in the way described:

- that the other person will be more hurt because my apology is general and not personal; they will be embarrassed; might feel pressure to give something they are not ready for; 

- might open a dialogue I am not ready for 

- feels like a tic off the list or superficial or light or selfish 

- in the opening interview, you (rabbi) talked about approaching someone at the grocery store and explaining what you were doing so they wouldn't feel embarrassed. Could you talk about that a bit more?

i also wonder how I know if/when I have truly forgiven someone. What does that mean in my body, in like situations, in my heart, for my boundaries, for my connections. 

 

Thanks for listening :)  Already I feel shift as I approach this with intention. 

Monica Ash
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Releasing attachment to the outcome

One thing that helped me last night from the video conference was the statement of releasing the outcome/holding no attachment to the outcome of the humbling exercise.  That was so freeing.  I was so confused with how folks reacted to the humbling "asking forgiveness practice."  I thought, "Am I doing this wrong?" that some folks were not accepting it graciously or were resisting what I was saying to them.  Which, in turn, made me feel bad that I upset them.  But the reminder that I have no control how someone is going to react--and that it doesn't matter--I need to release attachment to the outcome.  That if I do this with an open heart and from the intent of goodness, people aren't puppets, they aren't always going to behave/react how I expect them too.  And that's ok.  So I'm feeling more "ok" with that being ok. 

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I'm interested in participating, if it's not too late to do so.

Wow, only now discovering this, and hopefully this isn't too late; if so, please forgive me, and I'll bow out gracefully. Already, your posts have been enlightening. Historically I've been pretty good about forgiving other people and am able to manage that fairly easily, much as yourselves. What I'd like to work on with this challenge is to be better at forgiving myself. It may require the proverbial baby steps, such as starting with forgiving smaller imperfections and then move on to much larger issues.

Being perfectionist can a bit of a 'handicap'- and please don't take that the wrong way, yet this is not serving me well nowadays. To go out on a limb, here- I became abruptly physically handicapped/challenged a little over four years ago, and retired from practicing medicine, after a satisfying career. The thoughts of 'it's my fault' and 'I'm a failure' are much better than they used to be, mercifully. However it seems as though self-forgiveness may be an integral aspect of this journey.

Not something that I'm good at, either.

The self-acceptance project has started me off on quite the amazing journey. Adopting an 'attitude of gratitude' has additionally been beneficial, but this seems as though it's not 'enough' to allay much of this. Anyway, that's essentially my story, as far as identity, and self-forgiveness issues, and in a nutshell.

The topic of forgiveness has been one of immense interest to me for many years, now it appears that it's allure is more personal.  It's a bit difficult to express how it feels at this moment, when thinking about self-forgiveness. That may be a good initial step as in getting in touch with the feelings- and any help would be appreciated.

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We are in this together, and

We are in this together, and the purpose of this Forum is to remind us of that, and to lean on one another a bit. The more you participate in the Forum the easier this will be for you.

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