The Importance of Sleep

In recent times quite a few group members expressed issues they were having with sleep. In light of this we wanted to give people the opportunity to explore this. There were a mixture of issues with some wondering if they were sleeping too much and others questioning whether they were getting enough sleep.

People felt that being in lockdown has massively contributed to the change in their sleeping patterns. People are having to radically change their daily routines from which they were used to Pre-COVID 19. A big thing we all agreed on was the importance of sleep and how it plays an important part in our mental health and well-being.

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*Below are some helpful tips on getting good sleep from the mental health foundation website at http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk*

1. Tech-free bedtime

The bedroom should be somewhere that we associate with sleep. Where possible, you should try to remove distractions from you bedroom. It is better to watch TV, check social media and eat in another room. This will allow you to relax with no distractions in your bedroom. Be mindful of the presence of gadgets and electronics, such as computers, phones, tablets and TVs. The backlit ‘blue light’ displays suppress melatonin production – the hormone that helps you sleep; the suppression of melatonin causes sleep disruption. You should stop using these devices two hours before you go to sleep to reduce their impact on your sleeping.

2. Prioritise managing physical symptoms

As anyone who has tried to get to sleep with a blocked nose or headache knows, physical health problems can stop you from getting a good night’s sleep. It can be easy to forget with minor symptoms, but you will thank yourself when night falls if you prioritise speaking to a pharmacist about appropriate medication for symptom management.

3. Light, sound and temperature

It may sound common sense but too much light and background noise can prevent you from falling asleep or staying asleep. For light and noise sources that you can’t control, eye masks or ear plugs are wonderful investments. Temperature is also important, and if you share a bed with a partner with different temperature preferences, consider separate blankets or other solutions that make less of a sleep-compromise.

4. Dealing with worry

Thinking about sleep too much or trying to force yourself to sleep will only keep you awake. Learning how to relax both your body and mind instead will help you to get to sleep much more easily. Progressive relaxation techniques can help you to relax and unwind at these times.

5. Foods that help and hinder

Eating rice, oats and dairy products can produce chemicals that increase our desire to sleep. As well as the obvious caffeine, in terms of food and drink to avoid, things high in sugar can keep you awake if consumed late in the day. A big meal after mid-evening can also stop you from sleeping.

6. Alcohol alert

Although it can make you feel tired and can help you get to sleep, alcohol often impairs the quality of your sleep and makes you more likely to wake up during the night as the effects wear off, and you may need to go to the toilet frequently or wake up dehydrated to drink water.

7. Time your exercise

Exercising on a regular basis can help us sleep, helping to reduce anxiety and relieve stress. Exercising earlier in the day is better, as exercise increases the body’s adrenaline production, making it more difficult to sleep if done just before bedtime.

8. No napping!

If you have trouble sleeping, you may feel tempted to catch up on sleep by taking naps. However, unless you’re feeling dangerously sleepy (while driving or operating machinery, for instance), this usually does more harm than good as it makes it more difficult to sleep at night. If you feel tired during the day, get up and take a walk around, get some fresh air, or do something challenging for a short while, like a crossword or a sudoku.

9. If you’re not tired, get up

If you’re finding it difficult to get to sleep, don’t just lie there worrying. Get up for a while and get a drink (no sugar or caffeine, remember!) try reading for a little while and go back to bed when you’re feeling a bit sleepier.

10. Keep a sleep diary

Keeping a sleep diary to make a note of what the conditions were when you went to bed the night before can be useful for letting you look back and see what has and what hasn’t worked for you. It also helps you to see how your sleep varies from night to night, and might help you note patterns in your sleeping.

For further support please click on the below links;

https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/sleep/

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/sleep-problems/about-sleep-and-mental-health/

Creating an online profile

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At the end of 2020 the group had some fun and creativity designing an online profile. Like the art of constructing a CV, it can be useful to have some ideas of how to present your best aspects online whether this is for work or business purposes such as linkedin, campaigning for a cause on social media or, of course, online dating.

We decided to make a group profile for the latter….it is a culmination of everyone’s responses, it gave us joy to create and much laughter to read, we hope you enjoy it too, but remember…we come as a package! Please note that the comments are an amalgamation of possible responses and not to be taken too seriously! These are not the direct opinion of the cartoon profiles pictures. We hope you enjoy!

The all important first line to make an impact and introduce yourself:

Hello, my starsign is cancer, I’m vegan, I am 26 and like playstation

Next up, you may or may not wish to outlay political views, this may be important for you in a potential partner if it is something you are passionate about:

I like Biden, am christian conservative, support independence for Scotland #freedom

Pets can be an important consideration, if you have allergies or are scared of snakes some pet lovers may not be the right match for you:

Don’t love dogs? Don’t bother. Do you love snakes? See, when we get our first house, what pet would you like?

It can be important to state how you feel about Children, potential daters can be in a myriad of family situations so it can be useful for harmony to discuss at the outset:

I have no comment-not for me at the minute. I am child free, I would really like to have children, I come as a package with two children, I’d like to see how it goes.

Smoking can be a very controversial lifestyle choice on which potential partners may have very strong feelings, so once again, it may be wise to put it out there:

I am a social smoker, a holiday smoker, I smoke when stressed, I don’t like smoke, I really enjoy smoking, I’m trying to quit, our children will be called Benson & Hedges…I’m just smokin’

Similarly people may have a very different attitude to alcohol and whether or not it is a part of their social or dating life:

I’m a social drinker, I am tee total, I prefer coffee…and cake

Like political views, many dating websites may ask about faith or spirituality as these may be an important aspect of how people frame their worldview:

I enjoy wearing my star of David and a St Christopher-I might be ecumenical. It doesn’t matter what religion you are…be kind. I don’t appreciate others telling me what to think. I am open to all faiths and none. I’m not religious but it doesn’t bother me. Be what you want to be.

It can be helpful to have some shared Interests with a potential date, this can help with conversation topics and what to do if you choose to meet up. What are you passionate about?:

I am a passionate Heart of Midlothian supporter, I like knitting, reading and literature, Radio 4, listening, swimming, BOXING-our children will be called Rocky, coffee and cake, saving the planet and maintaining Scotland’s place as part of the United Kingdom.

So as we start to get more specific-What’s your ideal date?

One with a book! A sense of humour, a classical concert, coffee and cake, cinema trip, watching boxing in the pub, and going for a dog walk.

Allowing your personality to come out now, what verb or phrase would you use to describe yourself?

I’m raj, awkward, unpredictable, studious, crazy in a good way, I’m emotional, sensitive and take things to heart.

The 5 Languages of Love

Do you feel love or express love and appreciation primarily through words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, spending quality time or physical touch? The group session looked at each of these in more detail, from Gary Chapman’s book ‘The 5 Love Languages’ to start understanding how we and others close to us, give and receive expressions of love.

Affirming words are those which are positive, encouraging, appreciative, complimentary, have a sense of togetherness, ie ‘We’, words of praise and kindness.
If you grew up with cold critical condemning words you can start learning this love language from where you are-being active to phone or text, or create an opportunity to talk, make strategies of when to do this, and to plan words and phrases to use.

It became apparent that receiving words of affirmation was more difficult to receive for the majority in this group. This has been a previous group topic; exploring why it can be difficult to receive compliments. Some people felt comfortable speaking words of affirmation, but overall this was not the primary love language of this group.

Gifts say, ‘I was thinking of you, I want you to have this’ they communicate emotional love. They are not given conditionally nor to make up for a lack or to say sorry. They are just given. A person whose primary love language is gifts can tell you the story of a relationship and love behind each gift, and they will be thoughtfully on the lookout for things that their person might need or enjoy. This idea started to resonate with some group members who recognised that this is a way they like to express their thought and love to others, especially where verbally expressing love feels difficult.
Gifts can be simple and home made or lavish-sometimes we have to pitch it right-the 6 foot teddy bear, red roses and heart shaped chocolates on a 2nd date may feel quite hard to receive, especially by someone whose love language is not gifts.
If receiving or trying to think of a gift feels stressful this is probably not your primary love language.

Acts of Service is a love language demonstrated by being available to help out or fix practical things such as hospitality, technical support, advice, DIY and chores.  These are served in freedom not in fear, not as a response to ‘if you loved me you would e.g….fix those shelves’. Again this idea resonated among the group who identified different ways that they like to help out where they can such as doing the ironing, helping to decorate, child care and baking.

Quality time; this love language is about being together, focused and undivided attention whilst not looking at a phone! This may be uninterrupted conversation focused on communicating and listening, or a shared activity; enjoying something together and being willing to enter another’s interests and trying these with them.

The group strongly identified with this love language and suggested that it is the primary love language of the collected group. Individually, group members were aware that time spent with family in really listening and enjoying being together was important to them. If this is your love language you may notice how time spent with others like this energises you. We thought about our current context and how this quality time transfers online. We agreed that our weekly online group was such a slice of quality time.

Physical Touch can communicate love, warmth, care and presence. It can also communicate the opposite.  This love language can be complicated, misinterpreted and may invoke bad previous experiences.  To learn it, we may need to read or check with others how they want to receive it. Some people shared how receiving a hug from someone they knew well was comfortable but uncomfortable with a stranger. We discussed how we might ask first ‘Can I give you a hug?’ or ‘Would you like a hug’. Some communities or cultures are naturally more tactile which is not necessarily always the case in Scottish culture, although the group wondered if the younger generation were more comfortable with touch in general.
It may be useful to ask yourself what kind of touch feels affirming and what feels uncomfortable?
We thought about how we are finding lack of proximity and touch at this time. It was acknowledged how good it is to be able to meet up online, but we are missing being able physically sit together in a room.

When thinking about what your love language might be, we can work this out by looking at our own behaviour towards others, how do we typically express appreciation to someone? What do we request of others, what do we ask them for or like to plan for? It can also be helpful to think about what you complain about, for example; not being thanked, or feeling that someone is too busy to make time, or someone forgetting your birthday! Another way to discover it is to think about what it is that you most like about the people you married, or dated or are friends with-what do they do that makes you feel loved; do you feel loved when they spot a task that needs doing and do it or when they ask to put a date in the diary to spend time together, perhaps it is when they turn up with your favourite biscuits, tell you how special you are to them, or give you a hug.

While I was writing this, there was a knock at my door. Although the person had gone by the time I opened it, they had left a bar of chocolate on my doormat. Chocolate does not have a love language of it’s own, however this confirmed my suspicion that gifts are my love language-I realised I feel loved at the idea someone thought of me and had taken note of what I like and given it to me….What’s yours?


A Better And Fairer Society Post-Pandemic

The group had wanted to discuss how society could emerge from this pandemic better and fairer from the lessons learned. So we spent this session imagining suggested changes and improvements.

Our discussion was set within the six topics of the ‘Post-Covid Compassion Wheel’. It was suggested that within an increasingly technological world we maybe need to rethink traditional jobs and economic systems altogether. Potentially there is a lot of scope for ‘Green Jobs’; for research, invention, creation and development of doing everything greener! From travel, to deliveries, food production and fuel. For example the cement making industries who are looking to reabsorb CO2 emissions from the cement making process and use waste products from other industries, such as steel, to reduce waste and further reduce CO2 emissions.

Whilst the economy is struggling it was discussed that capitalism has perhaps transgressed from it’s original ideas, that accumulated wealth is not being redistributed or trickling down anywhere but is just sitting which is not helping the economy if money does not get reinvested. This brought up the topic of taxes as a way to fairly redistribute wealth if large co-operations did not have loopholes around which to avoid fair taxation. If a few people are sitting on most of the money the economy will stagnate, whereas if people had more access to disposable cash they would spend it.

We asked why is it that a careworker is valued so differently than a CEO. The monetary recognition is low for careworkers and keyworkers but dis-proportionally high for large corporations. For example, one co-operative CEO was valued at the equivalent of 3 top lawyers, 7 top accountants and 150 ordinary wage earners (Collier and Kay, 2020). Perhaps the balance could be tilted slightly.

We are aware that different generations are suffering in different ways from the impact of the pandemic. Older generations are more likely to face very worrying health issues from the virus itself whilst younger people are struggling more financially and seeing education and employment prospects severely disrupted. Very young children are affected by not being able to attend school in the traditional way and separation from extended family-which of course is also a loss for grandparents. There is also a greater risk for elderly people to become very isolated and cut off from care and support. The group suggested that it would be helpful to not blame different generations; we have heard of older people blaming young people for spreading the virus, and young people blaming older people for ruining their lives because they have to stay home. Where generations can be understanding of each other’s fears and worries this could lead to great benefits. The group gave examples of how perhaps young people could assist older people with becoming digitally connected so that they did not have to feel so isolated. This led us onto the idea of community; this pandemic has seen some communities really pull together and in other places a more individualist approach -such as buying all the toilet rolls has increased fear and isolation and anger. The group suggested that community spaces are very important and to look to increasing these. They noted that in their neighbourhoods they often saw community buildings become renovated into flats, and green spaces where they used to play football sold to developers. When communities have shared spaces and arts projects and combined purposes in an area this promotes a collective community identity rather than an individualistic outlook.

Poetry Week

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In this group we had invited members to bring poems they liked, or to write a poem they would like to share. We ended up with a very enjoyable mix of poems sharing deeply felt emotion, fun, humour and even song! Some pieces were an observation and narrative of life in lockdown and others beckoned to the interests and comforts of life such as cinema and cups of tea. Some group members expressed feeling nervous about reading their poems and we discussed how poetry can be an intimate expression of our inner selves and therefore requires vulnerability to share. People also spoke about their poetry writing process; some write it raw and then refine it over coming weeks and months whilst others write line by line, fully forming each part as they go, different styles reflecting each person’s individuality and creative flair. We are very thankful for permission to share some of the poems here:

This person said their poem may change with edits over coming weeks, so we look forward to a matured version also in the future.

THE YEAR 2020 (To be continued…)

In the year 2020, week melted into week.
No fun or adventures, no matter how hard you’d seek,
COVID-19 had come out to play,
Worldwide people had to go home and stay.

As the numbers of deaths rose,
Lockdown measures were imposed,
Shops and pubs closed for their last time,
Their ex-staff spending hours on the dole phone-line.

The people who still had work, tried to work from home,
School kids struggled to learn on their computer all alone,
Friends and family only able to video call,
Everyone’s mood began to fall.

When summer arrived, the virus seemed to slow down,
Lockdown restrictions loosened around town,
People could meet outside, at a distance, of course,
Only small groups, that the police would need to enforce.

More weeks like that, the amount of deaths kept on falling,
More restrictions were lifted, normality seemed to be calling,
Non-essential businesses and shops could open once more,
Schools were opened, with safety measures, not quite like before.

Slowly small pockets of cases appeared,
Instantly people thought about, the second wave, we all feared,
Masks on buses, and in shops,
We wonder if this virus will ever stop!!

A RED SKY
Our home above the pub,warm,safe,fun,laughter,singing…Dancing with my mum round the jukebox to the Beatles. Riding round the bar on my wee trike before opening, then the locals giving me coke and crisps. My Beautiful Mum,23, small and pretty, funny and kind.  My Nan, my Grandad and my Uncle.

Then Ambulance men-a stretcher-taking her away, a sheet covering her, screaming, crying.  I wanted the Black and White television on. I was only four, they said no.
Six weeks later taken away from my family-confusion-fear-pain-Grief-Anger-Hatred…… Apart from …the memories, the night my mum died,my Nan and me at the window, in my lovely home above the pub, she showed me a red sky, that red sky has stayed with me, when I look up and see it, I know my mum,my Nan,my Grandad,my Uncle are with me …always.

Finally we discussed the poem ‘Certainty’ by 17th Century Indian poet Tukaram:

Certainty undermines one’s power, and turns happiness
into a long shot. Certainty confines.

Dears, there is nothing in your life that will
not change – especially your ideas of God.

Look what the insanity of righteous knowledge can do:
crusade and maim thousands
in wanting to convert that which
is already gold
into gold.

Certainty can become an illness
that creates hate and
greed.

God once said to Tuka,

“Even I am ever changing –
I am ever beyond
Myself,

what I may have once put my seal upon,
may no longer be
the greatest
Truth.”

Although we often discuss our intolerance uncertainty as creating anxiety and worry, today we considered that absolute certainty isn’t good for us, as the poet says being certain of theories or ideologies can be very harmful. Also if we are inflexible in our views or trust we are likely to be disappointed or hurt.

The poetry in this session was a lovely way for people to share their inner and thoughts, feelings and responses in this difficult time and connecting us in our shared experiences.

Please check our poetry page for more poems by group members.

Media; friend or foe?

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In today’s group we wanted to look at parts of the media which people found helpful along side the parts which people found to be emotionally damaging. Of course there are many forms of media we gain access from; newspapers, news bulletins, TV/radio shows which brings us up to the latest form of media which is widely used ; social media. Below are the examples given for friend or foe;

Friend of media; Facebook allows people to have fun and catch up with old friends or family who may live in different locations around the world. Twitter allows people to follow other people of interest and find out what is going on in their lives. Through online streaming services like Spotify and Apple music we are able to support and share emerging artists. Most websites now provide access to helpful forums which allow people to chat and leave comments on certain topics. Having these forms of media can help people feel less alone with a question or issue. Media can provide a great vehicle to raise awareness for things like mental health and suicide prevention.

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Foe; Targeted advertising after visiting a website can feel intrusive. The dis-inhibition online effect where people can become ‘Keyboard warriors’ and be abusive to others. Conspiracy theories and fake news promoted at large can provoke feelings of fear in people. Using electronic devices all the time can make it hard to maintain contact with people who are physically beside you. People can find that positive affirmations they receive on social media can become addictive and feel disappointed if subsequent posts do not reach the same level of ‘likes’. The way photos are posted using certain art effects or Photoshop tools can give a false presentation of someone who feels that they have to strive for perfectionism. Some media is set up to fit a certain narrative which does not allow people to have any dialogue or discussion. Echo chambers with a hatred for different opinions can grow which can lead to examples of ‘trolling’ and other dehumanising behaviour.

In conclusion It is important to remember as human beings we very much rely on connection with others for a healthy well-being, but as the above examples show we need to do so in a way which feels safe.

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Self-Compassion

Self-compassion is an area we will continue to visit often in this group as it is something helpful for us all to practice and something we generally struggle to do, so encouragement and reminders to be self-compassionate are helpful.

Compassion literally means to ‘suffer with’ and is an active word, implying movement, a rising up to alleviate suffering. The group spent some time reflecting on how they feel towards others when suffering and experiencing that sense of feeling moved to alleviate suffering. When asked about practising self-compassion, group members continued to talk only about others. This was noted! People were able to identify a strong expectation of perfectionism within themselves which could lead to self-criticism in ways they would not expect from or criticise others.

Kristin Neff’s component explanation of self-compassion of self-kindness versus self-criticism was presented. She puts it this way, in her website self-compassion.org:

“Self-compassion entails being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or flagellating ourselves with self-criticism.  Self-compassionate people recognize that being imperfect, failing, and experiencing life difficulties is inevitable, so they tend to be gentle with themselves when confronted with painful experiences rather than getting angry when life falls short of set ideals. People cannot always be or get exactly what they want. When this reality is denied or fought against suffering increases in the form of stress, frustration and self-criticism.  When this reality is accepted with sympathy and kindness, greater emotional equanimity is experienced.”

Research into self-criticism and self-compassion have shown that self-criticism increases anxiety whereas self-compassion can decrease anxiety. We considered the three systems approach used in Compassion Focused Therapy to understand this more, from Getselfhelp

Group members identified a strong identification with an active threat system and less so with the soothing system.

Each time we tried to talk about how to be self-compassionate, people started talking about compassion for others. Indeed it is the full vision of compassion focused therapy that all; ourselves and others, are treated compassionately. However the deflection from self-compassion to compassion for others was explored. What we discovered was a well documented feeling of resistance towards the practice of self-compassion because of deeply ingrained self-criticism, and that the idea of kindness caused an unwelcome emotional response and began to expose painful experiences of being criticised, hurt, let down and having trust betrayed by others.

Kristin Neff compares this reaction to self-compassion as a backdraft:

“Some people find that when they practice self-compassion, their pain actually increases at first. We call this phenomena backdraft, a firefighting term that describes what happens when a door in a burning house is opened – oxygen goes in and flames rush out. A similar process can occur when we open the door of our hearts – love goes in and old pain comes out.”

Group members were keen to learn how to be more self-compassionate, so we introduced the ‘Compassion break exercise’. This is a nice way to start practising self-compassion because it allows us to start thinking about how to be kind and care for ourselves as we start to notice and identify having a moment of suffering. This could be anything such as feeling acute loneliness, words spoken that really stung us, feeling left out of something, or feeling horrible about things said and regretted in an argument.

You can find the exercise here: Self-compassion Break

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Guilt and Forgiveness

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We began the group discussion looking at how sensitive we are to feeling guilt by exploring a couple of scenarios;

If you received too much change in a shop and kept it without saying anything, how uncomfortable would you feel about this?…

This led to a discussion about guilt in relation to values, moral relativism and context. Levels of guilt depended on whether it was a big store or a local shop and whether the individual cashier was considered.

and….

You shared a friend’s secret, and even though they never found out, do you now take extra extra care when keeping secrets? There was a common consensus with this scenario that people would feel terrible guilt about breaching confidence.

Forgiveness is a helpful relative of guilt and so we spent some time looking at ideas shared about this topic from writers including; C.S Lewis, R.T Kendall, Lewis B. Smedes, Pema Chodron, Corrie ten Boom and a podcast from P’s and G’s church Edinburgh.

Sometimes the news takes an interest when we hear of atrocities and where victims or families of victims say things like:

“The aggressor could be my son and I forgive him.  He was not in his senses.  I am a great believer, I forgive what he did.” (Man whose daughter and son-in-law were shot in a supermarket orphaning their children).

The above man chose to forgive. Forgiveness is not an easy choice. It is tough, challenging, demanding, and is not an easy option because we have to face what happened and be in the painful feelings.

We might hope we would be forgiving in the face of a great offence, or even a small one, but we don’t know how we react or what we would feel inside until something actually happens.

C.S Lewis said “Everyone thinks forgiveness is a good idea-until there is someone we need to forgive.”

Revenge can seem like an attractive option for dealing with the pain. Indeed when we watch TV, films and read books we may be routing for people to get their ‘just desserts’. There is a big difference however between revenge and justice. It is cautioned “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves.”

Lewis B. Smedes says: “Vengeance is a passion to get even. It is a hot desire to give back as much pain as someone gives you. The problem with revenge is that it never gets what it wants; it never evens the score. Fairness never comes. The chain reaction set off by every act of vengeance always takes its unhindered course. It ties both the injured and the injurer to an escalator of pain. Both are stuck on the escalator as long as parity is demanded, and the escalator never stops, never lets anyone off”.

Group members talked about their own experiences of forgiving and the weight it took off them. Some had also reconciled stating however that this can only occur when someone has taken responsibility for the wrong they have done; reconciliation must go hand in hand with truth.

We might be familiar with some very powerful stories of forgiveness, the power seems to be in the release experienced when we forgive. Although when we have been deeply hurt we feel angry and bitter, this can eventually become destructive, the person who suffers most from unforgiveness is us.

It is important to understand what forgiveness is and what it isn’t.

R.T Kendall suggests that forgiveness isn’t approving of what the person has done, or just pretending like it didn’t happen.  It does not mean excusing or justifying what they did and it doesn’t mean reconciling. The other person may be dead so we can’t always reconcile, or they may not be a safe person to be in contact with. But we can forgive.

Forgiveness affects us, not the other person.  Forgiveness is not denying what the other did, or denying the hurt and angry emotions we feel or denying the consequences. Forgiveness is not about forgetting-we may need to remember in order to forgive.  It’s not about ignoring the pain, the wrong or the hurt or taking it less seriously.

Forgiveness is being fully aware of what someone has done and yet still choosing to forgive them. Corrie ten Boom said: “Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.”

Forgiveness is a conscious choice to keep no record of wrongs, a desire to keep it quiet. To stop telling the story to everyone. It is often tempting to talk about how outrageous they were and how deeply we feel hurt, forgiveness is a decision to stop doing this.  We recognised that when we hurt it is important to process it and to talk it through. But, resentment, where we literally re sense it, over and over again, feeling the pain with whoever will listen is generally not productive.  Forgiveness desires the idea that the other may forgive themselves. Those being forgiven often struggle to forgive themselves, it can be very difficult to believe someone else can forgive them.

We considered the unforgiveness we hold towards ourselves. When weighed with self-compassion and an understanding that all humans are flawed and have shortcomings this can start to make forgiveness easier than holding standards of perfection with expectations that no one should ever get it wrong. Recognising the common humanity that every one of us messes up sometimes can help us to be more compassionate and forgiving to self and others.

Group members talked about Brene Brown who we have spoken about in the group previously. Guilt, was discussed as a sometimes helpful emotion as it indicates we are doing something wrong, other people may refer to this sense as ‘conviction’ or conscience. Shame takes it all to a personal level, believing that we are wrong in our entirety as a person. Shame is not always helpful.

Forgiveness is a deliberate choice each and every day. It is also a process that can take time to process what happened and how we feel before we are ready and able to forgive.

Pema Chodron said: “My experience with forgiveness is that it sort of comes spontaneously at a certain point and to try to force it it’s not really forgiveness”.

Like boltcutters, forgiveness sets us free from being tied to what someone else did, the first person to feel delight at forgivness is you! You feel release when you choose to release them.