Readers Guide 2016
Forgiving Others, Forgiving Ourselves: Understanding & Healing Our Emotional Wounds
by Myra Warren Isenhart, PhD & Michael Spangle, PhD
Each year Conflict Resolution Month in Colorado selects a book as recommended reading for the community at large, with the goal to spread information and encourage conversation on ways to resolve conflicts at all levels of society. This year’s selection deals with forgiveness, an aspect of conflict resolution that is frequently ignored because it takes place not in the public eye, but privately through processes that vary in method and timeframe by each individual, community, and culture. After a conflict without mutual resolution occurs, we can choose to carry our anger at another person around with us or we can engage in the process of forgiveness.
What is (and isn’t) forgiveness? Does forgiveness mean condoning actions that brought harm, or grudging acceptance of harmful actions in an effort to ‘forgive and forget’? No, these perspectives represent just two ways the sometimes complex process of forgiveness may be misunderstood. “Forgiveness involves three dimensions: forgiving others, being forgiven by others, and forgiving yourself. While these may seem like three different actions, we see no distinction with regard to the definition of forgiveness,” write Isenhart and Spangle in Forgiving Others, Forgiving Ourselves.
The Guiding Question: How does a better understanding of forgiveness play a role in allowing individuals, families, workplaces, and communities to move past conflict to a place of stronger relationships and better understanding of one another?
Individuals: Forgiveness, of others or of yourself, represents one of the few truly effective ways to release long-carried painful emotions that may otherwise drag you down and steal joy from your life – when you bury feelings, you bury them alive. What does forgiving others look like to you? What does forgiving yourself look like, and is forgiving yourself more or less difficult than forgiving others? What barriers to forgiveness have you experienced? What are ways that you can incorporate forgiveness into your daily life?
Families: Family relationships are simultaneously some of the most important and the most complicated relationships of all. Offenses hurt more when they come from family, and those wounds can take longer to heal. Growing up in a family that models forgiveness is the most important predictor of adult forgiveness. What are your family’s practices on forgiveness? Is forgiveness modeled within your family, and if not, how could you begin this practice?
Workplaces: Workplace conflicts take a large toll on productivity; in fact, experts report that more than 40% of management time is spent on addressing unresolved conflicts. While no one expects all coworkers to be best friends, there is a reasonable expectation that all workers possess the skills to move past conflicts and maintain productive working relationships. Forgiveness plays a large part in this ability, allowing organizational members to move on. How is forgiveness practiced in your workplace? To what extent is forgiveness valued? Does your workplace have an established conflict resolution procedure, and is it utilized?
Communities: The value placed on forgiveness varies by community and culture. The authors write “… just as social norms can encourage us to seek revenge, community values that support conciliatory behaviors promote forgiveness.” (41) What are your community’s beliefs on revenge and forgiveness? How does your community encourage forgiveness, or if not, what could you as a community member do to change this?Read More
Please join us in congratulating Ronnie Weiss, TCC’s Director of Development, for being named Field Supervisor of the Year by the University of Denver’s Graduate School of Social Work! Over 25 field supervisors were nominated by the students they supervised this academic year. Ronnie was nominated by Marc Garstka, who will graduate from the University of Denver next month with his Master of Social Work degree. Here are some excerpts from Marc’s nomination, and the full text of his nomination is provided at the bottom of this post.
- Ronnie excels at this because she is so kind, upbeat, and supportive. Any time that I have needed something she is always there, willing to stop what she is doing to talk. She challenges us with critical questions, and pushes us to really connect our learning in the classroom to what we do in the field.
- She embodies all of the social work values that the school instills in us. She makes sure we are following them, and provides us with examples and resources if we are unfamiliar or need helping reaching a competency.
- Working at The Conflict Center has been great, and I know Ronnie has a lot to do with it. It is like a second family here, starting with Ronnie. She invites us to eat lunch with her, to her holiday parties, and is always checking in to see if things are going well. Her dedication and hard work is easily seen, and her knowledge about social work is immense. She has been a successful supervisor for years, and knows what it takes to be a great social worker.
Full text of Marc’s nomination:
Dedicated, by definition means devoted to a task or purpose; having single-minded loyalty or integrity. The only thing missing from this definition is the name Ronnie Weiss. Ronnie embodies this word to the fullest. Ronnie has been an excellent supervisor this year, and has been since she started taking in students. Ronnie has been with The Conflict Center for 22 years, and has over 30 years of experience working in the nonprofit arena. She primarily works in resource development, and has guided us through the process of grant writing. She has even let us be part of the grant writing and take ownership of the work. Her experience in working with domestic violence perpetrators, and violence prevention has allowed her to bring a lot of insight to our supervision. Ronnie excels at this because she is so kind, upbeat, and supportive. Any time that I have needed something she is always there, willing to stop what she is doing to talk. She challenges us with critical questions, and pushes us to really connect our learning in the classroom to what we do in the field. We do a group supervision that allows us to all come together and bounce ideas off each other, and learn from each other. She encourages us to collaborate, and makes sure that we feel supported. During our individual supervision she takes notes diligently, and genuinely cares about what we are doing. She is always complementing us, and thanking us for our hard work and dedication. She embodies all of the social work values that the school instills in us. She makes sure we are following them, and provides us with examples and resources if we are unfamiliar or need helping reaching a competency. I have talked with her a lot about my assignments and capstones, and she has given me great resources and ideas to help me. She also told me to see this as an opportunity of growth and development, instead of looking at it like just another paper. She is a role model to me because of the great work she has done, and the way she supervises us. I want to be like her, and be able to motivate interns like she does. I am never nervous talking to her, and she is one of the most approachable people I know. Working at The Conflict Center has been great, and I know Ronnie has a lot to do with it. It is like a second family here, starting with Ronnie. She invites us to eat lunch with her, to her holiday parties, and is always checking in to see if things are going well. Her dedication and hard work is easily seen, and her knowledge about social work is immense. She has been a successful supervisor for years, and knows what it takes to be a great social worker. I believe she deserves this award because she is one of a kind, and has the best intentions with all her work. Thank you for your time and consideration.
On Thursday, May 5th, The Conflict Center will host a very special Family Reading Night from 6:00 to 8:00 pm at 4140 Tejon Street in The Conflict Center’s library. The event is designed to encourage parents and kids to practice reading over the summer, with books that focus on friendship, feelings, problem solving, respect, differences, relationship building, bullying and peacemaking. Our Reading for Peace volunteers will be assisting with tips on how to ask questions that help with reading comprehension and open up discussions on these important topics.
This event will be a fun and interactive time for children to have positive adult attention, practice reading and learn how to apply conflict and anger management skills in their daily lives. A picnic style dinner will be provided and pajamas and slippers are welcome to facilitate bedtime following the event.
Family Reading Night will be held in partnership with The Bookies. Specially selected books from The Bookies will be available for sale at the event and for a week after at The Bookies bookstore at 4315 E. Mississippi Avenue. A portion of sales from any books purchased at the Family Reading Night or at The Bookies from May 6th through 13th will benefit The Conflict Center’s School Programs. When you go shopping at The Bookies and are ready to check out, let the cashier know that you are shopping to benefit The Conflict Center. If you are paying with cash or check, The Conflict Center will get 20% of the transaction. If you pay with a credit card, The Conflict Center will get 15% (these percentages include a 5% donation from The Bookies). Free gift wrapping is also offered at The Bookies.
For more information or to RSVP contact The Conflict Center at 303-433-4983.