Sunday, September 4, 2011

Forgiving When You Can't A Book An Idea A Mindset. Dr Jim Dincalci From The Forgiveness Foundation Explains The Concept And The Benefits Of Forgiving.

I'm sorry and I forgive you are two of the phrases people can have trouble uttering, even more difficult may be meaning what is said. Forgiveness is more than just saying “I forgive you!” it is an action that requires some important elements. I contacted Dr. Jim Dincalci of the Forgiveness Foundation. He has written a book and also writes a blog on the subject of forgiveness.

Dr. Dincalci has spent over 40 years using emotional, spiritual and physical methods to help people feel better. As a Child & Family Therapist, university instructor and founder of the Forgiveness Foundation, he has been developing methods to help people forgive and has taught these from coast to coast in the USA in universities, schools, hospitals, conferences, public seminars and churches. He frequently speaks on forgiveness. His book, How to Forgive When You Can't: The Breakthrough Guide to Free Your Heart & Mind, which has received 3 national awards, is also being published in German, French, Korean & Spanish.

The book How to Forgive When You Can't is a guide for the reader who is at a point where the idea of forgiving is not a desire possibility or even a thought much less an action to be considered. Dr. Dincalci, thanks for being a part of Candid Conversations.

Dr. Dincalci: Thank you Cliff. I appreciate being on this conversation. I had my own forgiveness miracle, 18 years ago and since have been helping people forgive. I call it a miracle because I had had post traumatic stress disorder since the late 70s and finally reached the point of not even wanting to live anymore. Through a forgiveness process that came to me, I was relieved of all my upsets within hours. Joy and Love reappeared in my life as a daily experience for years.

Cliff T.: Your book has an interesting title, How to Forgive When You Can't, can you define what that means?

Dr. Dincalci: First of all, let’s look at how we are familiar with forgiving. When you forgive a debt, it is let go of. They no longer owe you the money, for example. What you expected is let go of. It’s the same with an upset with someone. What you expect is let go of. The desire for the apology – let go of; them dying and going to hell – let go of; being able to torture them or for them to go through what you have gone through – let go of. Now that doesn’t mean you let them hurt you again or put yourself in harm’s way. Absolutely not. Forgive and set limits, take care of yourself.

The most important thing to remember about forgiving is that it is for you NOT them. You are the one holding the upset and having the stress reactions. They might not care at all. Forgiving is for you and your health and happiness.

So forgiving when you can’t means you have so much upset and agree with the social taboos and have so many defense mechanisms in place that it seems impossible to forgive even if you want to.

Cliff T.: Would you say that not forgiving is akin to being in a state of hatred for the offender?

Dr. Dincalci: I wouldn’t say it’s always a state of hatred, it could just be continual irritation. But it eats you up inside each time you think of them. Some people won’t even think of the offender after awhile, but it’s still under the surface eating away at their happiness, goals or health. I’ve found that even one held upset can have harmful effects.

Cliff T.: What else can happen to people on both sides the offender and the offended?

Dr. Dincalci: There is a lot of research on forgiveness. Here’s the positive side:

In careful scientific studies, forgiveness training has been shown to: 
· reduce depression, 
· increase hopefulness, 
· decrease anger & anxiety,
· heal relationships
· increase emotional self-confidence,
· improve compassion, 
· increase personal growth, and 
· improve quality of life

Studies reveal:
· People who are more forgiving report fewer health and mental problems.
· Forgiveness leads to fewer physical symptoms of stress. 
· Failure to forgive may be more important than hostility as a risk factor for heart disease.
· People who blame other people for their troubles have higher incidence of illness such as cardiovascular disease and cancer.
That’s just for starters.

For the offender, you just don’t know. They might not be upset at all by your upset. Maybe they even condemn you, or even expect an apology from you. You can really only deal with your reaction, not theirs. That’s why forgiveness is for you, unless they have asked for forgiveness. But then that’s easy forgiving when they apologize or ask for forgiveness.

Cliff T.: Dr. Dincalci, I have heard that there are points in time where we come into a situation where someone has done something so bad that forgiving them may seem like letting the off the hook for the deed done. Can forgiveness coexist with the idea that one can forgive the person but, not the deed?

Dr. Dincalci: That’s a good point. In forgiving we never condone the deed. But, if we can open our heart to the person, in some way, then forgiving is possible. That doesn’t mean we need to reconcile with the person though. Reconciliation is not forgiving. In reconciliation, you are building trust again in a relationship. That takes work on BOTH sides. Forgiveness is a good and essential step. But it’s only a key step. Trust is the product of reconciliation. Trust might never be able to be rebuilt.

I need to say that if the offender is abusive I would not recommend the person going back to the relationship unless she (or he) see significant on-going change on the part of the abuser. Abuse is difficult to deal with. I worked in Domestic Violence for 3 years. A little 6 weeks course is not usually enough for a violent offender.

Cliff T.: What is the goal of the book?

Dr. Dincalci: I see it as a toolbox to help people
1) to forgive others and themselves.
2) to forgive everything. All upsets, including trauma.
3) to help others to forgive.

I spent 10 years working on the book so that all aspects of forgiving were covered.

Cliff T.: Just by the title of he book I assume that what your saying is that forgiveness takes time and effort, there is lots of work involved.

Dr. Dincalci: That’s true, But it can be done quicker that you think if a person is willing to be honest with themselves and what is going on around them. That’s not easy. It does take looking deeply.

Cliff T.: I would think that there are some key things a person must do to reach a level where they can forgive, Dr. Dincalci what kinds of steps do people need to make even before they can forgive someone?

Dr. Dincalci: That’s a good question because most people think you just forgive. But, there are several things that must be addressed before a person is even willing to forgive. One is social agreements and taboos against forgiving. I call them the myths of forgiving. We address a few of them like forgiveness as condoning what happened, which of course it doesn’t. It’s not reconciliation, and it’s not about turning the other cheek to be hurt again. But one of the big one is that forgiveness is weak. Anyone who has forgiven a terrible thing knows that that idea is crazy. It takes someone strong to forgive because the person has to face the upset full on and then let it go. I go into the 12 myths that prevent forgiving quite a lot in the book.

Another thing a person needs to deal with is the Brain mechanisms that prevent forgiving. This is why we can’t forgive and forget. It’s not built into the system. Remembering is. And the third is dealing with the emotional defense mechanisms. Both of these systems of defenses are there to protect us but end up preventing the help we need. And actually cause more stress in the long run.

Cliff T.: Can you describe what the Forgiveness Foundation does and what the objectives are for it?

Dr. Dincalci: Our Vision is to have harmony among people around the world.
Our Mission is to advance the field of forgiveness through events that inspire and impassion individuals, families, and communities to forgive
We see this happening by
  • Building kind and peaceful families, communities, and organizations by helping people let go of their blame, resentments, grudges, and vengeance.
  • Inspiring & educating people on the power of forgiveness,
  • Training them to help others forgive.

Cliff T.: How do you measure success when it comes to forgiving?

Dr. Dincalci: The question to ask if you aren’t sure you’ve forgiven is:
Does the person move through your mind easily, or do they crash and burn? When you think of them do you have any reaction?

Cliff T.: What got you interested in teaching this subject?

Dr. Dincalci: At the beginning of this interview I mentioned that I had a forgiveness miracle. Because of that I wanted to help other have the same. It took years of workshops and teaching to have a process that really worked.

Cliff T.: Well Dr Dincalci you sound like a man on a mission to change attitudes with respect to forgiving is this what your passion is, to see a world where forgiveness becomes something that is easier to do?

Dr. Dincalci: Yes, absolutely, not only easier but without the social taboos around to prevent it, people would be much more forgiving. At present forgiveness seems more like a curse word than a the blessings it really it.

Cliff T.: Where can people get How to Forgive When You Can't?

Dr. Dincalci: TBA

Cliff T.: Well I have to say in a time where so much focus on avenging the deaths of others and making people pay for their errant ways has become such an obsession it seems like you are wanting to inject another solution into the minds of people. I wish you much success as you try to bring the idea of forgiveness back into the conversations we are having these days.

Dr. Dincalci: Thank you very much for this interview. You have provided a nice opening for people to take the first step in being more happy by letting go of their upsets. I believe that is how we have more peace, by each person letting go of their resentments and grudges. Thank you very much.

Cliff T.: Dr. Jim Dincalci and the Forgiveness Foundation he heads up are the creators of the Forgiveness blog and the book How to Forgive When You can't. To visit the site and learn more about this unique organization and it's goals visit them at  I Reached Dr. Dincalci at his office located in Chapel Hill NC.