Why do you put so much emphasis in your book on the importance of emotions and changing one's attitude as a central part of healing?
In order to assist the healing process, patients need to deal with unresolved emotions. We cannot afford the luxury of chronic anxiety, fear, guilt, depression, or anger. They block the flow of life energy in the body and disconnect us from our sacred essence. Even modern medicine acknowledges that negative emotions clobber the immune system with stress hormones and other chemicals that are disruptive to the body. Stored negative emotions are one of the most basic causes of illness. The British psychologist researcher Hans Eysenck tracked followed more than 13,000 people for over 20 years and found that the vast majority of people who died of cancer or heart disease had unresolved emotions, in the form of anger, depression, or hopelessness.
How do you help people deal with unresolved emotions?
There are two ways: a left-brain and a right-brain approach. The left-brain approach involves dealing with emotions on a rational, logical level. If you have a major conflict withthat involves another person, there are three possible ways to deal with it.solutions. The first option is to fight back, by initiating a confrontation, having a discussion, writing a letter, bringing a lawsuit, or even getting intohaving an actual physical fightbattle! The second option is to divorce the intolerable--with joy. If you divorce it with anger, you haven't gotten rid of the problem. The third option is to go for sainthood: Accept and forgive that which cannot be changed. Those three are the only rational, left-brain solutions. People get angry with me sometimes when I tell them those are the only solutions, but they are.
The right-brain approach is to do experiential, guided-imagery exercises, preferably under the guidance of a professional. One of my favorite exercises is to have people go through the following sequence: They are sitting in a private room, there's a knock on the door, and the very person they hate, fear, or despise enters the room. They carry on a conversation with that person in their imagination and try to resolve the conflict. Another way of doing it is to have people look into a mirror and imagine themselves turning into the person they most hate, fear, or despise. Then I tell them to ask the question, "What did I contribute to this relationship that made it come out this way?"
The main idea is to get both mind and heart involved.
In your book, you are quite emphatic that forgiveness is the single most important attitude for healing.
Absolutely. As one of my students once said, holding a grudge is like taking poison and expecting it to kill the other person. In reality, those negative feelings kill you. Q.
But how do people forgive if they have truly been wronged, and that person e person involved continues to wrong them?
In my opinion, there is no reason to accept abuse. If there is physical abuse in a relationship, leave immediately because there is a very high repeat rate with these things. If it's psychological abuse, which is more common, then each person has to decide for himself or herself what is acceptable. In such situations, I tell people to make out a list of all the good things in the relationship and all the bad things, and grade each of them on a scale of zero to 10. If the bad outweighs the good, leave. If the good outweighs the bad, then here's your chance for sainthood: Accept and forgive.