Episode 70 - Eileen Barker: Finding Forgiveness
My marriage was over and I wanted a divorce. I’d had a “starter marriage” in my mid-twenties and when that ended we went to the lawyers and the lawyers won. Now my second marriage was done and I knew I didn’t want to do that again. Enter Eileen Barker, a family law attorney with a more loving approach to divorce. Eileen offered to mediate our divorce and I am forever grateful. In an environment of respect, where compassion and kindness could find their way into the proceedings, we actually managed to avoid the ugliness and cruelty of a typical divorce. Drawing on her background in law and psychology, Eileen is highly skilled in ensuring that each person in a dispute is fully heard, helping couples and families find workable solutions that respect each person's needs and sense of fairness. Join Eileen and me as we talk about the role of forgiveness in helping couples let go and move on. Eileen describes her philosophy and practice of dispute resolution and talks about the need for heart, especially when our hearts are hurting. And don’t miss Eileen’s gentle forgiveness exercise that you can try at home.
Chip August: Welcome to “Sex, Love & Intimacy.” I’m your host, Chip August, and on today’s show, I’m going to be talking to a friend of mine that I’ve known for close to 20 years now, her name is Eileen Barker. Eileen is a lawyer, but we’re not really going to be talking about her law practice, we’re going to be talking about mediation, conflict resolution and, most especially, we’re going to be talking about forgiveness.
Eileen is a – Eileen Barker is a mediator and a conflict resolution specialist with over 25 years’ experience in law and dispute resolution. She draws on her background in law and psychology and she’s highly skilled in ensuring that each person in a dispute is fully heard. She helps couples and families find workable solutions that respect each person’s needs and sense of fairness.
Eileen teaches classes at UC Berkeley Law School and elsewhere on conflict resolution and forgiveness and she has provided consulting facilitation and trainings on mediation, communications and conflict resolution for a variety of schools, bar associations, government agencies, professional things, private things, people, lawyers, everybody.
Ms. Barker, Eileen, has successfully mediated hundreds of cases in a wide range of areas including commercial and business stuff and family and divorce, and it’s the family and divorce and that related stuff, we’re going to be talking about today.
And, just in the interest of total honesty, I had a divorce – a couple of divorces and one of my divorces, Eileen mediated and it was quite an extraordinary experience and it’s a big reason why I’m inviting her onto the show.
Eileen Barker: You know, that sort of got me going in a certain way and then, eventually, I did start hearing about mediation as a way to resolve not only neighborhood and community disputes, but people were starting to talk about it for legal disputes. And that was when I started taking some trainings and realized that’s what I wanted to do and just started making that transition from traditional law to working with people in a way that wasn’t adversarial, where they could come in and just talk about the problem and find solutions in a more creative way.
I think that, that when you start talking about forgiveness, you’re sort of now into a whole other area where, again, it’s just going to be something very personal that each person, in terms of when they’re ready and whether they want to forgive, and sometimes people do address it in mediation. So it’s not, you know, foreclosed at all, but I really do see it as almost a separate process, at least, for a lot of people it is. But now they’re done, they’re divorced, they’ve moved on but they realize there’s still carrying something. They’re still - and then, for other people, come to it because they’re done with their legal divorce, but they’re not done emotionally or psychologically. They still feel betrayed because the other one cheated, they still are carrying anger about something that happened with the children and so just – they’re just not really able to move on.
So, ultimately, that’s the most important thing, but when people come to it and they really feel ready to be done with it, there is an opening there to see something different, to let go of those feelings and to just say, okay, I’m done.
Chip August: Welcome to the show Eileen Barker.
Eileen Barker: Thank you, Chip, I’m delighted to be here. Thank you for asking me to come.
Chip August: So, let’s just sort of dive into this whole thing about mediation. I’m kind of curious. I know you’re a lawyer; how did you get interested in mediation and dispute resolution and conflict resolution? How did you wind up in there?
Eileen Barker: Well, that does go back really to the time that I met you back in late 80s, when I first did workshops with the Human Awareness Institute, and learned some much in that context about relationships and just the potential for people to really heal conflict through communication and opening their heart and really was an eye opener for me to just see what was possible when people could be real with each other and just interact on a human level which, certainly, was not – had no part of my training as a lawyer up until that time. But, I was just so moved by that and inspired and really wanted to find a way to bring that into my work which seemed, really, I’d have to say, impossible, but somehow I knew that that’s what I had to do or also just would be miserable as a lawyer the rest of my life.
And, so, I remember early on, talking to you actually about conflict resolution and that there’s just this whole pathway, I don’t event think we were calling it mediation then. But we were talking about conflict resolution and you gave me some books to read and, you know, that sort of got me going in a certain way. And then, eventually, I did start hearing about mediation as a way to resolve not only neighborhood and community disputes, but people who were starting to talk about it for legal disputes. And that was when I started taking some trainings and realized that’s what I wanted to do and just started making that transition from traditional law to working with people in a way that wasn’t adversarial, where they could come in and just talk about the problem and find solutions in a more creative way.
Chip August: So, now, you said that really simply and that was my experience of what the process was, but I want to, I really want to make sure that the listeners hear this.
So, instead of basically having two lawyers sitting across from each other, each of them trying to win something from the other side, you really just get people to sit together and talk about their needs, wants and desires and find a path where they both get heard. Is that accurate?
Eileen Barker: Well, that is the essence of it, that’s certainly the goal, is to shift it from having, first of all, there’s a few things just to unpack it, instead of having lawyers be the ones who are having the conversation. My goal is to have the parties be the ones who are having the conversation. It’s their dispute; it’s their life.
You know, in the divorce mediation work that I do, lawyers aren’t in the room. The parties may have lawyers that they’re consulting with in between sessions or before they come, but they’re not usually bringing the lawyers with them. So that’s one piece of it.
And, in case, in other cases, where people are being represented and the lawyers are there, the lawyers really have a different role. They’re not – they’re in the background, not the foreground. And, again, it’s the parties coming forward.
And then, and then, in addition to that, the second piece is what is the goal of the conversation? And, it’s not to win, one side to win at the other one’s expense. It’s really to find something that’s going to work for everybody.
So, you know, of course, you know, the win-win is the essence of it, but really to find, to find that solution that’s going to address both side’s needs.
Chip August: Now, I’m – I’ve been reading lately something people have been talking about, collaborative divorce. Is this – are you talking about the same thing?
Eileen Barker: No, that’s totally different thing. Although the confusion comes because mediation is a collaborative process and, in mediation, we’re asking parties and teaching them how to work collaboratively by looking at solutions that – looking at really, first of all, working to understand each other’s needs, not just their own, and then exploring different kinds of options that would address all of those needs and that’s collaborative.
But there’s a whole other animal which is called collaborative divorce, which is a different model. It has, I would say, sort of a kindred cousin to mediation in a lot of ways, but in collaborative divorce, the parties do come in with lawyers and so it’s a four-way meeting and the lawyers have received special training in how to collaborate because that’s not generally taught in law school. And so, they become, in a sense, certified collaborative, you know, professionals. And then, they actually sign an agreement saying they will only work together to settle the case and, if they can’t, they will not go to court on behalf of those clients. So the clients would actually have to find other attorneys and that creates an incentive then for everybody to really find a solution. So, it’s a really, it’s a good model but it’s a different one than mediation.
And, one of the drawbacks is that it is more expensive because you’re paying two lawyers. And also, you’d no longer have the, just the necessarily the, parties front and center, you now have it four ways. But, there are cases where people really do feel like they want to have their lawyers there and to, you know, help them with the negotiations. So, it definitely has a good place in the, you know, in the divorce field.
Chip August: My personal experience, and I know that anecdote isn’t data [laughs], but, my personal experience was, and I’m embarrassed to say this, but I’ve been divorced twice. I don’t know why I’m embarrassed about it, but I am embarrassed about it. My first divorce was a traditional divorce with lawyers and all that stuff. And then, my second was this mediation that Eileen did.
My experience of the mediation was that you cared that our feelings got spoken about. And that my experience with my lawyers when my first divorce was that feelings really had no place; feelings were going to get in the way. Feelings were going to be a problem. Let’s not go to feelings; let’s just negotiate dollars, you know. And it’s that feeling thing that I’m so impressed by.
Eileen Barker: Right. Well that is, thank you for that feedback. Again, one of the things, the many things that is not taught in law school is how to honor and be with feelings. Something that I did learn from the Human Awareness Institute and realized the importance of that, when people are in conflict. I mean, really what could be more emotional than a dispute or conflict, a divorce, so it’s – there are a lot of emotions flying. So, to not talk about them, just doesn’t make any sense and, in my experience, you can’t get very far without talking about them.
And it is different, it’s not counseling, it’s not therapy, but you have to include the emotions in the room. It has to be – there has to be a, you know, there has to be okay for people to talk about, “I’m angry. I’m really upset about this.” Or, you know, “This really hurt.” And, you know, there are a lot of tears are shed. And I think that that’s always a good sign when people are willing to just, you know, acknowledge the feelings and let that be part of the conversation. So, that is – that does play a big role and, I think, without that, you can sometimes find, you know, some kind of a truce between the parties but they’ll never really feel like they’re – what’s really going on inside of them got addressed.
So, that is something that’s important to me, that people really, really feel like the things that they – that matter the most to them, that they really care about are being taken into consideration, that they’re being heard, not just by me but by the other person too. And, in that way even, you know, at the end of the day, a lot of times it’s not like there’s – I don’t have a magic wand, unfortunately, where I could just say here’s, you know, perfect solution to everything. So there’s, oftentimes, going to be compromise and even hard compromises. But, at least, people feel like everything’s been considered and will feel better about whatever the end result is as a result of that.
Chip August: Well, this is fascinating and it lays sort of the groundwork for what I want to talk to you about next, which is about forgiveness because you’ve been with these in so many situations where that’s the thing that’s most missing. And that’s – and, so, I want to come back and talk about that, but I want to pause for a moment and take a break.
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Chip August: Welcome back to “Sex, Love and Intimacy.” I’m your host, Chip August. We’re talking to Eileen Barker. We’ve been talking about mediation and dispute resolution between couples and I want to actually move this conversation into forgiveness because Eileen is, over the last several years, has developed some theories, some ideas about forgiveness and some trainings and some materials and so I want to talk about forgiveness a little bit.
But, first, I just – I guess a great place to start, I think different people have different meanings for that word. And so, I would love to know, when you talk about forgiveness in the context of what you teach, what are you talking about?
Eileen Barker: What I’m talking about when I say forgiveness is really simple. It means letting go of the past; that’s what it means to me. Letting go, releasing it, being done with it. And, I want to say that the reason and how I got into this was very much out of the work I was doing as a mediator. And, what I was seeing is that even when people would come to agreement, I mean, it’s closely connected with what I was saying about emotions, that if the emotions weren’t addressed, you could only get so far.
But then, I was also observing that, even then, it seemed like people – they could settle their dispute, but they’d still leave, you know, hating the other person, feeling some hostility, not wanting to see them again, not wanting to have much to do with them. And that was not only painful for me to observe, but very disappointing [laughs].
When I thought about my sort of vision of what was possible, going back, again, to what I experienced at HAI, the Human Awareness Institute, and what I knew was possible, which is for people to come back into love no matter who far out of love they’ve gone, that was really the impetus. Thank you Stan Dale, so that just knowing that the – and Chip August – knowing that that was possible, that’s what I want for every client and that’s what I want in every mediation. And I have to humbly acknowledge that that’s one out of a hundred, you know. And 80% of the time, you’re just happy people can just agree on something just so that they can get past that phase of it.
But, again, it was disheartening to me to realize that the people were still carrying a lot of pain in their heart and that’s what interested me in forgiveness. It’s a possible vehicle for people to really let go. And, I’ll say, that this is not something that necessarily happens during a mediation. It might happen a year later or five years later. I think that, when you start talking about forgiveness, you’re sort of now into a whole other area where, again, it’s just going to be something very personal that each person, in terms of when they’re ready and whether they want to forgive. And sometimes, people do address it in mediation, sometimes it’s not, you know, foreclosed at all, but I really do see it as almost a separate process, at least, for a lot of people it is.
But now, they’re done, they’re divorced, they’ve moved on, but they realize there’s still carrying something, they’re still – and, then, for other people come to it because they’re done with their legal divorce, but they’re not done emotionally or psychologically. They still feel betrayed because the other one cheated. They still are carrying anger about something that happened with the children and so just – they’re not really able to move on in their life.
I have a friend who says it this way, Darlene Deall [sp], she says, it’s like if you haven’t forgiven, it’s like you’re trying to move forward in your life, but you’re painting with a dirty brush. So, your brush still has the old color on and so everything you’re doing is being influenced by that, including your relationships. And so you can’t really – you’ve got to clean your brush every once in a while so you can really start something new, start a new painting.
Chip August: So, this idea of forgiveness is just letting go. I want to say, I think that’s one of those things where it’s simple but it’s not so easy, you know, that we – and there are a lot of things in life like that. That it’s not easy doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it, but, there’s a place in me often that goes right to somehow, I’m letting you off the hook if I forgive you. I’m condoning your behavior or I’m not acknowledging really my own pain by forgiving you. So can you speak to that a little bit?
Eileen Barker: Yeah, actually, when I teach, I have a list of what forgiveness is and what forgiveness is not. And what it is not are all the things you just said. But those are the myths, those are the misunderstandings that people have about forgiveness, which are often the – really become the reason people don’t even want to talk about forgiveness or consider it because they don’t want to condone, forget, to minimize their own pain. And what’s important for people to understand is that’s not what forgiveness is.
So, it definitely does not mean condoning. It doesn’t – you’re in no way making a statement that it was okay with you that that other person did what they did. You’re not denying your feelings about it. You’re not in any way forgetting. I think it’s important to not leave those two, those two. And what it is, is something that you’re doing for yourself, really, not for the other person, has nothing really to do with them deserving it or were they sufficiently remorseful. It’s really not about that. It’s really about do you want to continue carrying around this pain? And pain, with the price you pay with your own life, obviously, when you do, do you want to continue or do you want to let it go.
And, it’s a gift you give yourself. And a lot of people talk about it in terms of empowering themselves, that you empower yourself by being – saying, “I’m not willing to carry this any more. I’m not willing to continue giving you my thoughts, my energy, my focus. I’m letting it go. I’m putting it down and going forward.”
Chip August: In my personal life and in my private practice, it’s often, it takes a while for people to see that the person that I’m hurting by not forgiving is me. That the person I don’t forgive, they may be aware of it, they may not be aware of it, but their life just kind of goes on regardless of my emotional state. But, inside me, the price I pay to hold that person out of my heart and to hold onto that anger and to keep, in the end, really, not forgiving is hurting me. It doesn’t really affect them at all. So the act of forgiveness is a personal choice about lightening up for my heart, it has nothing to do with them.
Eileen Barker: Exactly. There’s a great – there’s a great quote and, I don’t – I think it might be Oscar Wilde, but I’m not sure who’s it was originally, it says – that says, not forgiving is like – or holding onto a grudge is like drinking poison, expecting the other person to die. And that’s exactly what it does. And we now have a lot of science on this that shows that if you carry a grudge, if you’re angry with another person, that even just thinking about that raises your heart rate and your blood pressure, and that people who do carry grudges have much higher risks for strokes, heart attacks, it’s been linked to cancer. It’s detrimental to us, it really is. We release stress hormones every time we thing about our – that person that we’re angry with. You think about the grudge. And so, it’s really doing us no good. It’s toxic, it really is.
And, I think that, you know, most people know that somewhere inside of them, that it’s not, you know, if you compare how you feel when you are sort of – how stressful it is when you’re angry with somebody versus when, you know, you’re in a peaceful place and things are harmonious and how good that feels and love is flowing. And, which are all very counteracting to all the ill effects of anger, that’s the positive effects of love and forgiveness. So, that is really important is to understand the real impact that it’s having even if you think the other person doesn’t deserve it.
Chip August: Okay, so I’m going to get a lower blood pressure. I’m going to get the right sort of brain chemicals running through my brain so I’m not stressed all the time. I’m going to reduce my risk of illness. I’m going to reduce my risk of heart attack. I’m going to let go of this burden I’m carrying, maybe, I’m also going to be able to move forward with my life. There’s a lot of good reasons to do it, I want to do it, I’m there with you. And, I’m really pissed off with this person because they had an affair or I’m really pissed off with this person because they said they would love me forever and now they want a divorce, you know? And how do I – how do you teach forgiveness?
Eileen Barker: How? So that’s the question of how is, I think, really once you get past all the other obstacles, it really comes back to how to do it. And that’s what so many people come to me and say, “I’ve known all my life about forgiveness, but I’ve never known how. I want to do it, but how?”
So, the first thing that’s important, I think, is to understand that it is learnable, it is a skill and so that’s one thing. And the second thing is that it’s something that, I think, is best learned as it’s sort of a daily practice. It’s not just something to pull out every five years when you have that big trauma in your life, although you can. And that often is when people turn to forgiveness. But, even better, is if you – it’s something that you develop so that you’re practicing on the small insults of life and the person who cuts you off in traffic or somebody who is rude to you, you know, at the grocery store. And you’re kind of practicing on those things so that you’re developing those muscles and those tools. And then when the big bang comes along, you have a neuronal pathway, you have some, you know, familiarity with it and it’s not completely foreign. So that’s a couple of things about – so.
So, the other, another thing though is that people often say that, “You know, I understand about forgiveness and I really believe in it but this, this thing that happened to me, this is not forgivable.” So that’s a question that comes up a lot. And, one of my people that I learned the most from about forgiveness, his name is Dr. Fred Luskin from Stanford, and he’s done a lot of research, has a very good book about forgiveness called, “Forgive for Good.”
And what he points out in there, is that he believes there’s nothing that isn’t forgivable. So I’ve adopted that also. I’ve comet to believe that too. No thing that can’t be forgiven because any thing that you think of that you think is unforgivable, there is somebody else who’s forgiven it, including, you know, betrayals, including even murder, including, you know, there are Holocaust victims who have forgiven. There are people who’ve been – whose children have been, you know, killed, who have forgiven. There are people who, you know, war – victims of war crimes who’ve forgiven. So there really is nothing that’s unforgivable and it comes back to the choice and the fact that it is a choice as to whether or not you are, again, going to give yourself this gift, whether you’re going to free yourself from the burden of whatever has happened. And so, I think that’s an important part of just – as people are learning about this, is to not kind of get stuck there, because I think a lot of people do.
Chip August: So, we need to know it’s possible. We need to know that other people have done it before us and we need to embrace this idea that nothing, nothing is unforgivable. We need to get that it’s for ourselves, not for the other person. We need to get that our forgiveness doesn’t encourage or discourage their behavior, it’s for us. And I know there’s more.
And I want to take a short break and then come back and talk a little bit more about this.
You’re listening to “Sex, Love and Intimacy.” My host is Eileen Barker, she’s an expert on forgiveness and also on conflict resolution and mediating disputes.
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Chip August: Welcome back to “Sex, Love and Intimacy.” I’m your host, Chip August, and we’re talking to Eileen Barker. We’ve been talking about mediation but, mostly, we’ve been talking about forgiveness. And, when we left, we were talking a little about – I just asked, so, how do you forgive and Eileen was kind of starting to talk about the preconditions for forgiveness and I want to ask some more. Tell me more about how does one forgive.
Eileen Barker: Okay, so, what I do, is I lead a two-day class on forgiveness and I can just tell you sort of how I teach people to forgive in that class.
First of all, I’ve broken it down into ten steps and sometimes it’s eight, sometimes it’s nine, but currently, it’s ten [laughs]. And what people, the essence of it is this, that what you’re doing, what a person – I’m asking a person to do or guiding them to do, is essentially to retell the story that they tell about what happened. And that involves having them find a different way of looking at the situation which, again, sounds simple and isn’t always easy, but that’s the process of it. Is looking at it and what is the – how, looking at what happened, looking at how they’re interpreting it, how they feel about, what meaning they give it and then looking at some other possibilities.
And that’s really the essence of it. And that’s – it can be a very – and, often is, a very life changing process to see it from a different perspective to look at it from a different side, to look at, you know, what was actually good about that situation. What were some of the gifts of that situation? Which is a difficult thing to ask people when they first start and they’re not seeing that at all.
And so, it is a process that people are guided through. But coming to that point where they really can see that, okay, you know, maybe it wasn’t so simple and there is more to it and, but, also, really getting in touch with their own reasons for wanting to let it go and how that’s going to benefit them, because their own motivation for wanting to release it is what’s going to carry them through. So, ultimately, that’s the most important thing.
But when people come to – to it and they really feel ready to be done with it, there is an opening there to see something different, to let go of those feelings and to just say, okay, I’m done.
I do see it – I see it as a process when people come in, say, to the workshop sometimes, you know, I say it’s ten steps, they will take the next step for them. Not everyone is going to be through with it at the end of the two days, but they’re going to move from where they were. And some people are, are done with it at that point in time and they’ve come to the class because they’re just at that point in their life where they’re ready to really have closure on it.
So, I think from – in that way, the process meets people where they are and for what they’re ready and what I always come back to though, it’s a choice and so I think most fundamentally, there’ll be a moment where there’s a decision you make as to whether or not you want to forgive, whether or not you’re ready, whether or not you’re willing to, and it doesn’t come from, I don’t think, from the brain, I think it really comes [laughs] from the heart more, you know, a deeper place inside of us. It just says, okay, enough, I’m ready.
And from there, it’s, you know, I talk about this in really practical ways, for the most part, but there is also, I think, maybe more esoteric part which is just also just releasing it from the body that I’ve just come to see that we carrying conflict really on an energetic level in our body. And that, as much as we need to, you know, release the feelings and release the thoughts that don’t serve us, we also just need to let go of the energy we’ve been carrying around. So, part of it, that I do is guide people through a meditation where they have a chance to really do that. And, so that’s a piece of it as well.
So all of those are parts of the how.
Chip August: Now, I know you have a CD on this and I know that people can get the CD from your site, so what could they expect to, if they got the CD, what’s the CD going to do for you? Like, how much of this is on the CD?
Eileen Barker: The CD is that release, that energetic release process, that’s what’s on the CD. It’s a meditation that I started leading in my class and people started asking me, is there some way I could listen to that again. So, I recorded it and now it’s available. So, it’s that one part.
I’m currently working on putting together a workbook that will lead people through the whole ten-step process. So, you can watch for that early 2009 but, currently, the CD addresses that one piece and the workbook will address the other ones.
Chip August: And if somebody wanted to get the CD and they wanted to keep track of you and maybe even wanted to contact you either for mediation or forgiveness work, how would they find you?
Eileen Barker: The best way would be through my website which is Barker-Mediation.com or they can also call my office which is (415) 925-0900.
Chip August: And, of course, we will have a link on the episode page at PersonalLifeMedia.com. So those of you who want to just grab a link there, you can just kind of go to the episode of “Sex, Love and Intimacy,” that says “Eileen Barker, Forgiveness” and you’ll see a link there, click to that link and it’ll get you to all the information that you need.
While you’re there, please feel free to look around, look at some of the other Personal Life Media shows. We have a lot of pride. We have just, as a network, we have just been named by iTunes as one of the, sort of the featured most interesting networks of programs. So you might want to look at the full list of programs that we have.
Also, if you have comments or criticism about this show or about any of my shows, I’m always wanting feedback and I always want ideas for new guests. So, if you have ideas for guests or you want to give me feedback, why, please feel free to send me email at [email protected], [email protected]. And I do read everything that comes my way and I have had several guests on the show as an idea that was suggested by a listener. So, if you have an idea, I’d love to hear it.
We’re starting to wind down here a little bit. Just a couple of things; one is that I definitely want to end with an exercise and Eileen and I were talking and we will be doing an exercise. But, before we run to the exercise, there’s two thoughts that didn’t get said and I want to say at least – I want to at least say something about it.
One, is that we speak about forgiveness like it’s an event. And it’s been my own experience in life that I got to a really wonderful forgiving place with my dad. And then, periodically, I’m back there being angry at him, you know, I’m back there carrying – and that what I really had to surrender to is, it’s a process. It’s an ongoing process and I go different places at different times in my life around that.
Eileen Barker: I totally agree. It’s a process, not an event. When you said that, wait a minute, that’s my line, [laughs], I always say that. But, yeah, I couldn’t agree more. Sometimes you think you’re done and there’s more and then you just do more. Yeah.
Chip August: And then, I also just want to say to my listeners, Stan Dale, my mentor, my friend, my teacher, Stan used to ask me sometimes, when is the debt that I owe my parents paid? You know, when is it, like, what do I owe exactly? How much, how long, should I be in punishment? What is the, you know, how long should I suffer before I and – Stan had a great metaphor, he just said, “You know, okay, so you have these people who maybe you gave – they took a job on and for the last 35 years, they haven’t really done the job the way you’d like them to do the job. How long must you continue them in employment?” You know.
Now, if it was a job, you wouldn’t have to kill them, you wouldn’t’ have to, you know, you wouldn’t have to never speak to them again. You would just have to fire them, you know? And it was such a freeing idea, the idea that I could love my dad, but fire him from the job of being my dad because he really wasn’t any good at it [laughs]. You know, so…
Eileen Barker: Well, that also reminds me of another important point which is that I also, all I can say is, just really, ultimately, the most important forgiveness is the forgiveness of ourselves. So that increasingly is something that seems like it’s in these classes, the focal point, is the self forgiveness piece. Maybe this is self forgiveness for ever thinking it was about your dad, you know, or just having carried all that for as long or, you know, in any given case, there’s always – any given situation, there’s always the piece of how we viewed it and the mistakes we made and our own needless, you know, ways we suffer for unnecessarily – all of – there’s so many, you know, ways we can just look at our – ways we want to forgive ourselves. So that’s really probably the most important.
Chip August: And that seems like the perfect lead in to the exercise you have for people to try at home. You know, listeners, we always ask our guests if they have an exercise that might enhance the love or the intimacy or the sexuality in your life. And Eileen and I were talking and she has an exercise for you.
Eileen Barker: Right. Well this definitely would – is a good exercise about forgiveness which can open up towards all of those things, which I call taking a forgiveness inventory. And I always ask people to do this either as part of a training or sometimes before they come. And it’s taking a look at who in your life you would want to forgive or might be willing to or might not be willing to, but who might, you know, who are your potential people and situations and what areas of your life is there forgiveness to do if you wanted to do it.
And so, it’s very simple, but just requires sitting down for a few minutes and thinking through different relationships and areas of your life. So the ones that I would suggest would be parents, always a good place to start, siblings, other family members, your spouse or significant other, lovers, friends, business partners, co-workers, bosses, employees, neighbors, teachers, and then, always, yourself.
And what is actually great to do is to just take a piece of paper and just write, you know, freely and without any censoring and more in brainstorm kind of way. I did this a couple of years ago and I just, you know, it started off thinking I didn’t have that much but maybe a few things and I’d be good to write them down. And, before I knew it, I had like two pieces of paper filled with, with – at the – the test that I used, I used two things, it was there anything? I really was making a scan. Was there anything, even if it wasn’t a big thing?
And then the second question I asked is, if I had six months to live and this was my last chance to forgive, who would I want to forgive and what would be there for me?
So, with those two questions, it elicited quite a lot and find that it usually does for other people too. So, I think that’s really the place to start, is to just doing that, taking that inventory.
Chip August: What a great idea and what a great guest you’ve been. I want to thank you for coming on the show and giving us all these great ideas. Thank you so much for being here.
Eileen Barker: Thank you, Chip, it’s been really good.
Chip August: And I want to thank you, listeners, for listening in. You’ve just listened to another episode of love, intimacy – of “Sex, Love and Intimacy” and I’m your host, Chip August and I hope you will join us again for our next episode.
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