VIEWS: 23 PAGES: 37 POSTED ON: 7/15/2011
FORGIVENESS: An Antidote to the Poison of Prejudice! Professor Joseph D.McNair What is Prejudice? • Prejudice is an attitude of hatred and hostility directed against members of groups other than the ones we to which we belong.. • Prejudice is a fear-based attitude. • Prejudice is rooted in the belief that members of other groups threaten one’s well-being and tax one’s adaptive capacities. The Prejudging Person Believes: • That one’s own group is superior or inferior to another group or groups. • That other groups are strange, alien, foreign and should be hated, “dealt with” because they are different. • That one’s own group is entitled to societal privileges, social status and symbols associated with those privileges because of their superiority or... The Prejudging Person Believes: • That one’s own group is undeserving of certain societal privileges and social status and symbols associated with those privileges because of their inferiority. • That other groups seek to take away power, privilege or status from one’s group; or • That other groups will use or abuse their superior, power, privilege or status against one’s own group. Prejudice is a defense mechanism; Defense Mechanisms • Defense mechanisms are used by most of us to preserve or maintain of self-systems. • Defense mechanisms distort reality and involve a fair degree of self-deception. • Defense mechanisms change so called “facts” to fit our personal needs. Defense Mechanisms • Compensation: an attempt to disguise or overcome the existence of what is perceived to be a weakness by emphasizing a strength. • Denial: avoiding disagreeable realities by ignoring or refusing to acknowledge them. • Displacement: the shift of emotion or fantasy away from the person or object toward which it was originally directed to a safer person or object. Defense Mechanisms • Emotional Insulation: an attempt to reduce our needs and fears by withdrawing into a shell of passivity. • Fantasy: to embellish our perceptions so that the world seems much better than it really is. • Introjection: internalizing the basic qualities or attitudes of a person or persons who threaten us. • Projection: blaming our shortcomings, sins and unacceptable thoughts on others. Defense Mechanisms • Rationalization: a) helps us to invent excuses for doing what we don’t think we should do but want to do anyway; and b) helps us to soften the disappointment for not reaching the goal we set for ourselves. • Reaction Formation: Feeling one way but behaving in another. • Regression: a retreat in the face of stress or fear to the use of behaviors more appropriate at earlier levels of development. Defense Mechanisms • Repression: the process of burying or excluding painful or dangerous thoughts or desires from the consciousness. • Sublimation: acceptance of a socially approved substitute goal for a drive whose normal channel has been blocked. Prejudice is a set of “group” ego defenses Superiority • “Superior” people overvalue their personal worth; exaggerate their achievements; focus on the “special nature” of their own problems • “Superior” people direct their affections towards themselves rather than others; are preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited power, success, brilliance or beauty or ideal love. • “Superior” people require constant attention and admiration. Superiority • “Superior” people can either be coolly indifferent or display feelings of rage, inferiority, shame, humiliation or emptiness in response to defeat or failure, indifference or criticism from others. • “Superior” people may be compensating from deep feelings of shame stemming from their personal perception of not “measuring up” in some way significant to them. Inferiority • “Inferior” people have an exaggerated sense of personal inadequacy. This sense of inadequacy is developmental and learned rather than genetic and innate. Objective facts make seem to make little difference in whether one feels inferior or not. • “Inferior” people are sensitive to criticism (avoidance, compensation). • “Inferior” people are over-responsive to flattery. • “Inferior” people have hypercritical attitudes (reaction formation). Inferiority • “Inferior” people tend to blame (project)others. • “Inferior” people feel persecuted. • “Inferior” people hate to compete. • “Inferior” people are easily persuaded and influenced. • “Inferior” people need to be perfect. • “Inferior” people tend to seclusive, timid and shy. Prejudice Causes Pain Victims of persistent prejudice have been: • Disappointed • Deceived • Rejected • Abused • Abandoned • Ridiculed • Humiliated • Betrayed Prejudice Causes Pain • Prejudice opens emotional wounds that are slow to heal. • Prejudice infects those wounds like a slow acting poison. • Prejudice, like hatred, envy, jealousy, anger, rage, fear, panic , grief, depression festers in those wounds. Forgiveness is an antidote for the poison of prejudice Four Illusions Influencing Why We Don’t Want To Forgive! Why We Don’t Want To Forgive! • Illusion: If this hadn’t happened, my life would have been perfect! • Not forgiving provides a readily available explanation or excuse for anything or everything that is wrong with me and my life. Why We Don’t Want To Forgive! • Illusion: But I am a good person! • Not forgiving helps me define who I am e.g. I am the victim of some injury and injustice, not the bad guy. I don’t have to look at my part in whatever pain or injury that has happened to me. Why We Don’t Want To Forgive! • Illusion: I have power! • Not forgiving helps me compensate for the powerlessness I felt when I was hurt or hurting. Keeping people locked away in the prison of my mind makes me powerful. No one can stop me from holding a grudge. Why We Don’t Want To Forgive! • Illusion: I won’t be hurt again! • Not forgiving protects me from being hurt again by the people who originally hurt me and by the new people in my life. By keeping the pain alive, by continuing to hurt, I am alert for any potential danger and reduce the risk of being deceived, disappointed betrayed abused or otherwise injured. What Forgiveness is Not • Forgiveness is not condoning • Forgiveness is not absolution • Forgiveness is not a form of self- sacrifice • Forgiveness is not a clear cut, one time decision. What Forgiveness is • Forgiveness is a by-product of an ongoing healing process. You cannot forgive anyone if the wounds they inflicted are not healed. Forgiveness is the gift at the end of the healing process. We find it waiting for us when we reach a point where we stop expecting those who hurt us to pay for what they did or to make it up to us in some way. What Forgiveness is • Forgiveness is an internal process. It happens within us. It is a feeling of wellness and freedom and acceptance. • Forgiveness is a sign of positive self- esteem. It is no longer building our identity around something that happened to us in the past. When we can say “I am tired of the pain, forgiveness becomes possible! What Forgiveness is • Forgiveness is letting go of the intense emotions attached to incidents from the past. We still remember what happened, but we no longer feel intensely angry, frightened, bitter, resentful or damaged because of it. Forgiveness becomes an option once pain from the past stops dictating how we live our lives today. What Forgiveness is • Forgiveness is no longer needing our grudges, resentments, hatred and self- pity. We do not need them as an excuse for getting less out of life than we want or deserve. We do not need them as a weapon to punish the people who hurt us or to keep others from getting close, We do not need them as an identity We are more than a victim. What Forgiveness is • Forgiveness is no longer wanting to punish the people who hurt us. It is no longer wanting to get even or to have them suffer as much as we did. It is realizing that we can never truly even the score and it is the inner peace we feel when we stop trying. What Forgiveness is • Forgiveness is accepting that nothing we do to punish those who hurt us will heal us. It is becoming aware of what we did because we were hurt and how these attitudes and behaviors have also hurt us. It is deciding that we have done enough hiding and hurting and hating and that we don’t want to do those things anymore. What Forgiveness is • Forgiveness is freeing up and putting to better us those energies once consumed by holding grudges, harboring resentments and nursing unhealed wounds. It is rediscovering the strength we always had and relocating our limitless capacity to understand and accept other people and ourselves. What Forgiveness is • Forgiveness is moving on. It is recognizing that we have better things to do in life and doing them. The Healing Process • Denial. This is the stage in which we attempt to play down the importance of painful past experience and bury our thoughts and feelings about them. • Self-Blame: This is the stage in which we try to explain what happened to us by assuming we were somehow responsible for the injuries and injustices we suffered. The Healing Process • Victim. This is the stage in which we recognize that we did not deserve or ask for the hurt we received. We wallow in self-pity, expect little of ourselves, indulge ourselves at the expense of those around us, or lash out at anyone and everyone who crosses us. The Healing Process • Indignation. This is the stage in which we are angry at the people who hurt us and the world. We want the people who hurt us to pay and suffer as we have. We have no tolerance and our self- righteousness is high. • Survivor: Finally, at this stage, we realize that while we were indeed hurt, we did survive. We lost things but gain things as well. The Healing Process • Integration. This is the stage in which we acknowledge that the people who hurt us may be ill,may have done the best they could. If we are more than our wounds, they must be more than the pain they inflicted. We can release them from the prisons in our minds and reclaim the energy we used to keep them their. We can put the past into perspective- without forgetting it- and get on with our lives. The Healing Process • True healing is facilitated by our willingness to revisit our injuries again and again; to look at them, face them and learn what they have to tell us about ourselves. • True healing happens in time… and sometimes we have to give time time! • When we can think about (revisit in our minds) our emotional wound and the circumstances that caused it with interest but without intense emotion, we have healed.
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