Befriending Compassion Fatigue Series
Professional Group Track Learning Guide
Lesson Five: Exquisite Empathy
-The first step is ACT ONE. This interactive form section will give you an opportunity to delve deeply into the concepts behind our lesson and reflect on how they connect to your life and your role as caregiver. A critical element for the success of an ACT Learning Group is to provide some time and space for personal reflection and journaling.
-After completing this step, ACT TWO is a period of group discussion and reflection. All participants must be given a safe space to express themselves during this time. This portion of the interactive form is filled out with insights gained from your community exploration.
-Next, your group will move on to ACT THREE, the Best Practices, real-world habits, ways of thinking, or behaving that can increase personal well-being. Goals to incorporate best practice suggestions can be made on the group or individual level and support systems can be developed during this time.
ACT Step One: Individual Reflection
ACT Step Two: Group Discussion
ACT Step Three: Best Practices – (Choose at Least One)
1. “Conflicts and transgressions seem inevitable as humans rub against each other. The sharp corners of our personalities irritate and scuff against those with whom we interact on a daily basis. But if the new science of forgiveness has proved anything, it’s that these offenses don’t need to condemn us to a life of hurt and aggravation…Through a harmony of research and practice, I trust that we can continue to foster forgiveness—and continue to study the effects scientifically—to bring health to individuals, relationships, and societies as a whole.”- Everett L. Worthington, Jr
Assess your own relationship with forgiveness by taking the Heartland Forgiveness Scale. This is available as a downloadable PDF and as an online quiz . Another option is the Transgression-Related Interpersonal Motivations Scale created by forgiveness research pioneer Michael McCullough and his colleagues. Are the results what you expected or do they surprise you? Write about your results and reflect on how they can help you set goals for self-forgiveness or the forgiveness of others.
2. “Some practices that would help include daily spiritual practice, meditation, journaling, psychotherapy, nature (ecotherapy), gratitude, dream tending, and forgiveness work.” –Soul & Science Lesson
Which of the above practices are you already incorporating into your life? Write about how they are helping you with respect to exquisite empathy or forgiveness. If you aren’t currently using any of these, what could you add as a daily or weekly practice? Record specific goals that will help you utilize these tools in your self-awareness practice.
3. “Through my research and teaching, I have found that forgiveness isn’t just wishful thinking. It’s a trainable skill.” –Fred Luskin
Become familiar with Fred Luskin’s Nine Steps to Forgiveness. Try using them the next time you have been hurt or offended by another.
1. Know exactly how you feel about what happened and be able to articulate what about the situation is not OK. Then, tell a couple of trusted people about your experience.
2. Make a commitment to yourself to feel better. Forgiveness is for you and no one else.
3. Forgiveness does not necessarily mean reconciling with the person who upset you or condoning the action. In forgiveness you seek the peace and understanding that come from blaming people less after they offend you and taking those offenses less personally.
4. Get the right perspective on what is happening. Recognize that your primary distress is coming from the hurt feelings, thoughts, and physical upset you are suffering now, not from what offended you or hurt you two minutes—or 10 years— ago.
5. At the moment you feel upset, practice stress management to soothe your body’s fight or flight response.
6. Give up expecting things from your life or from other people that they do not choose to give you. Remind yourself that you can hope for health, love, friendship, and prosperity, and work hard to get them. However, these are “unenforceable rules:” you will suffer when you demand that these things occur, since you do not have the power to make them happen.
7. Put your energy into looking for another way to get your positive goals met than through the experience that has hurt you.
8. Remember that a life well lived is your best revenge. Instead of focusing on your wounded feelings, and thereby giving power over you to the person who caused you pain, learn to look for the love, beauty, and kindness around you. Put more energy into appreciating what you have rather than attending to what you do not have.
9. Amend the way you look at your past so you remind yourself of your heroic choice to forgive.
“Our bodies have five senses: touch, smell, taste, sight, hearing. But not to be overlooked are the senses of our souls: intuition, peace, foresight, trust, empathy. The differences between people lie in their use of these senses; most people don’t know anything about the inner senses while a few people rely on them just as they rely on their physical senses, and in fact probably even more.”
― C. JoyBell C.