What is Radical about Radical Forgiveness?
TS: Today on Insights at the Edge I’m speaking with Colin Tipping who is the author of a book, Radical Forgiveness, a book that Colin self published and it sold over 120,000 copies as a self-published book in North America which is quite impressive and Colin mentioned to me that just about as many copes were sold in the German language as well. Sounds True has now picked upRadical Forgiveness for distribution and in addition to the book we have an audio series with Colin Tipping on Radical Forgiveness, and a new on-line event airing on February 2nd on Radical Forgiveness for Healing. Colin, welcome to Insights at the Edge!
Colin Tipping: Well, thank you for having me.
TS: To begin with I think it’s important that you explain Radical Forgiveness as distinct from people’s normal ideas about forgiveness, because really, after spending some time with the book Radical Forgiveness it almost occurs to me that you needed to use a different word for what you’re talking about. It’s so distinct from what people normally assume forgiveness is.
CT: Yah…that’s exactly right. If there was another word that I could use that would describe it I would, but you know forgiveness is about the only word that I could come up with that people would relate and that we could make it work. So I called it Radical Forgiveness which worked well for me really because people knew what forgiveness was but it raises the questions of why is it radical…so that’s really…it’s actually worked quite well for me. The two words too are sort of opposite in their energy in that Radical is a male dominated or oriented word and Forgiveness is female…so you’ve got that nice balance between the two words. But let me explain what Radical Forgiveness is as opposed to what I call traditional forgiveness and that’s what we’re used to, as you say. Basically then, Radical Forgiveness is very much like traditional forgiveness at first. In other words, it asks of us pretty much the same in that it asks us to be understanding, able to bring some sort of compassion to the situation. What’s happened to understand what might have motivated the person to do what they did, and to bring some mercy, if you like, to the situation and to perhaps even put yourself in the persons shoes– Would you have done the same thing had you been in their shoes?–that kind of thing. So that’s what traditional forgiveness asks us to do and so does Radical Forgiveness. In the sense that it’s what we need to do as human beings to try to understand situations and understand the motivations of other people and why they did what they did to us and so on. So to that extent it’s the same. But what marks it out as different is that with tradition forgiveness we’re still holding onto the idea very firmly that something wrong happened. And that “I have been victimized and you are the victimizer and I am damaged and I can’t let it go because you have caused me to be unhappy for the rest of my life because of what you did to me, even though I am trying to forgive you.” So you can hear in those words that there are two contradictory ideas. Number one is that you have damaged me in some way. I am a victim and yet on the other I’m trying to forgive you. And the way human nature is that makes it extremely difficult because in nearly all cases, where something really serious has taken place anyway, the need to condemn is still much stronger than the need to forgive and that’s why it takes forever to forgive people and why most people never achieve it and why most people think it’s the most difficult thing that we’re ever asked to do, which is to forgive somebody using that system. So what Radical Forgiveness does though, it takes the traditional forgiveness and then goes one big step further, a radical step further. It rests on this following principle—that everything that happens to us, actually happens for us—in the sense that there’s a reason for everything that happens. There’s a spiritual purpose in everything…every situation that we experience in our life is divinely guided in one form or another and we don’t understand how or why, but if we just open to the possibility that everything in fact does happen for a reason and that everything that happens in our life is divinely guided then something happens energetically to us that brings us peace. So that’s the big Radical Forgiveness step, that’s what makes it radical. Nothing that ever happens to us is without purpose and without some sort of gift for us in spiritual terms.
TS: Ok, but what about this Colin, and I’m sure you’ve heard it all but I still have to ask these kinds of questions which are things like, “OK. I get that this thing happened to me for my own benefit. I grew so much. I learned so much. I changed so much. But it was still wrong. It was still wrong that that person did X, Y, Z.”?
CT: Yes, in human terms it was wrong so what we have to be able to do when we do Radical Forgiveness is to exist in two different worlds at the same time. On the first hand is the world we’re used to which is our own human world and in those terms and in human terms what happened was quite wrong. But then there’s this other world that we need to exist in at the same time or have a link to through our own consciousness is where in the world of spirit there is no right or wrong. Things happen the way they do because they need to happen the way they do, and that there is a divine hand of providence in action here guiding these situations to make them happen the way they do, and that we have a hand in that, in that it’s our own spiritual intelligence that’s helping to create these situations.
TS: Well of course, and once again I’m sure you’ve heard these kinds of questions, but when we think of terrible abuses that happen to people that seem very young, innocent, infants…how can we say that this ‘needed’ to happen to this person?
CT: Well, see first of all what we have found over the years is that when people open up to this possibility that everything happens for a reason, it seems to change not only them and how they feel but it seems to change the situation as well. So it does seem to indicate that there is some sort of energy moving that is creating the situation in a much better way than if we just hold on to the idea that something wrong happened. So, there are results. It seems to work when we just open to that possibility, and no belief is required. We don’t have to believe in anything, and we don’t have to be able to analyze it or understand it. We never will understand it, or at least given the consciousness that we have now we have no understanding of the mind of God, so to speak. But the kicker with Radical Forgiveness is that there can be no exceptions to the rule. The kind of question that you just asked, “What about the innocent little baby who gets cancer?” or something like that…or what about the child abuse situation, or situations like we had with Hitler in the 30’s and 40’s, we just don’t understand it and we can’t explain it and we don’t know what the spiritual reasons are, why these things happened. We don’t know the reasons for any of these things happening. But once we just open to the idea that there is a spiritual reason behind everything then it seems to work. And so the answer is basically, I don’t know. I don’t have an answer for that except to the extent that Radical Forgiveness doesn’t work unless you apply it to everything, everything! And there can be no exception.
TS: In your own life can you give me some examples of what it perhaps has been hard for you to apply it to and how you make those breakthroughs?
CT: Well the thing about Radical Forgiveness is that it’s something that you use in your life almost every day because we’re always getting things cropping up that annoy us and irritate us and victimize us and so many of the tools that we’re created for Radical Forgiveness are designed just for that for those things that come up that are on a daily basis something that we need to look at and to move the energy through so it doesn’t expand and get us stuck into some situation that really isn’t a victim’s situation at all. But your question is do I have a big story and the answer to that is that I don’t really have anything huge but I have lots of little things that I’ve used Radical Forgiveness on. I mean I have gone through a couple of divorces and I had to some forgiveness and I had to do a lot of self forgiveness in there too. But that was before I developed the concept of Radical Forgiveness. So I’ve had to do it sort of retrospect to work on some of the issues in retrospect the things that happened many, many years ago. So it works just as well for thing that have happened a long time ago that we thought we had put to bed but maybe there were still some things that tend to come up again or get repeated and the clue is always if you have a repeating pattern. If something keeps on occurring in every relationship that you have then you know that there’s something in a previous relationship at some point that was never healed and is coming up again for healing, and so you do the work on the one that is most current and that heals all the rest in that pattern. That’s one the things I like most about Radical Forgiveness is that you don’t have to go digging up the past too much. If something occurs n your life, in your everyday life-now- and you can see that there is sort of a pattern to it that…for instance, let’s say that you keep getting abandoned, or left, or betrayed and you’ve seen this happen again and again and again. Well you know full well that that must’ve happened a long time ago and that you were wounded but you haven’t resolved it and it’s still there as an energy pattern in the physical body and it’s really coming up again for you to heal it. And so the opportunity is presented to heal it by whatever is happening now, the last it’s ever happened to you. And as you heal that particular one using the worksheet then it heals the wound way back when and you don’t even have to go digging it up.
TS: You mentioned, Colin, using the worksheet. What worksheet are you referring to?
CT: Well, what we have found with this work is that it’s necessary to use certain tools to make it work and I believe that the reason we need these tools is that it helps us to bypass the intellectual mind and to access the spiritual intelligence. Which is the part of the mind, I think, or the part of the psyche that actually does the work…it’s the part of us that knows the truth of who we are. It is connected to universal intelligence and is the architect of, or it’s certainly implicated in how our life works out. We’re not normally conscious of our spiritual intelligence unless we really practice it, but the tools that we use…we’ve got worksheets, you know, Radical Forgiveness worksheets, we’ve got audio tools that are on the CD’s that you’ve done for me called The Thirteen Steps to Radical Forgiveness. If we use those tools it bypasses the mental and takes us directly to our spiritual intelligence, and I believe that if we try to do it mentally—that is to say, without one of these tools—it doesn’t work because our own mind wants to analyze it. It wants to say, “Well this can’t be right…that‘s a crazy idea!” It puts up all sorts of road blocks to us really accessing the real truth which is beyond our mind…which is much more of a spiritual nature than it is psychological.
TS: Now you mentioned that if Radical Forgiveness works, it has to work in every single situation, has to be applied in every single situation we can see both in our own life and in the world. So, I just want to see if I understand you correctly…what this would mean is that we would never see anybody in the world in any circumstance as a “victim?”
CT: Correct. Correct. When we’re looking through the spiritual lens, if you like…but of course looking through a human lens then we see things differently. We see, you know that the terrorists are doing things which are victimizing us in some form or another and we’ve got to do something to stop it. So we do whatever it takes in this human world to get in the way of those terrorists and try not to get blown up. But in spiritual terms what we understand is that it’s all beautifully orchestrated to teach us, whatever it is, that we has human beings…spiritual beings having a human experience, need to be learning whilst on this planet, and some of the things that we learn through our own individual experiences and some of the things we learn through group experiences. Terrorism, or whatever it is, is there to teach us something and we don’t know what it is but it’s there for a reason and it’s self created in the sense that we has a group have decided that we want this experience for some reason or another, we don’t know what that is of course, but there is some way in which we are gaining something of a spiritual nature out of this experience and that when we come through it we will have gained something but at this point we don’t know what it is.
TS: OK. So there are these two lenses, the human lens and the spiritual lens…?
CT: And we have to try to be in both places at one time. It’s no good putting our heads in the sand and doing a spiritual bypass. We’ve got to do what we need to do in the human world to take care of affairs as we see them unfolding from the human perspective. But at the same time, if we can keep our consciousness focused on the idea that there is something else going on besides what we see…that it’s of a spiritual nature, then what tends to happen as I see it is that once we do that, if enough people…for instance if we apply this to terrorism…if enough people were to hold it that the terrorists are not there to kill us but to teach us, in some way or another, then terrorism would stop immediately. If there were enough people holding their vision and that consciousness, the purpose for them creating terrorism would therefore disappear because we would have gotten the lesson.
TS: OK. So just slow down a little bit here. With the spiritual lens things are “orchestrated” for us to learn and grow. So that word, “orchestrated,” that you used of course brought up an image for me…”By what? By whom?” Where does the orchestration come from?
CT: Well, if it’s just you or me doing something that creates the circumstance in life then you or I, or that individual is orchestrating through their own spiritual intelligence with the help of universal intelligence which you might want to call God, or whatever. I don’t want to give the impression that it’s orchestrated by something else other than ourselves. You know, we are responsible for our own lives and groups are responsible for group consciousness also.
TS: So the person who is sexually abused, through the spiritual lens, has somehow orchestrated this for their growth and healing?
TS: OK. Why would somebody orchestrate such terrible things to happen to them?
CT: Well that’s what we don’t know, you see…and we have no way of knowing what that is. But as I said at the very beginning, what we find is that when people are able to look at it that way then everything changes. And everybody involved in the situation gets to be different, to be in some way healed or changed for the better and the person who is abused doesn’t feel victimized anymore. In other words, when we bring love to the situation instead of fear and hate then everything changes for the better.
TS: So you don’t believe that there’s any randomness in the universe?
CT: At the spiritual level there’s no randomness, no.
TS: And what gives you that clarity?
CT: Only that over the years that we’ve been doing this work–and we’ve been doing it now full time for 12 years–that we see a lot of people that come to us in a state of deep victim consciousness…very wounded and very hurt. In the space of a day or so when we do the workshops, when they open up to this idea that everything does happen for a reason and there is no randomness…it’s all purposeful in some form or another, that they heal and that they walk away feeling peace. They’re changed. And it seems to endure. We call people up after six months or a year and they still feel the same about that particular event. It hasn’t gone back to victim consciousness again. Now it’s not to say that they haven’t got other things that they need to heal on, but that particular thing has usually…the energy that is stored up in the physical body around that particular issue has disappeared and they don’t feel resentful, angry, and rageful as they did once before. So the only way that I can judge this idea is that it seems to work and that’s really what I’m concerned with. I’m not concerned with proving a theory because I don’t know whether it’s right or not, but what I do know is that once we apply it, it seems to work quite radically and work very well indeed.
TS: OK. So what I want to understand is more about what the world looks like to you through this spiritual lens. How you look at even–I mean we could go back to the terrorism situation—through a spiritual lens, how do we see that?
CT: I see it…well let me first of all say that through the human lens I see it no differently than anybody else. I get just as mad and just as upset about things that go on in the world as anybody else does. I’m a human being and I’m here you know, playing the human game. But what I try hard to do is to switch my consciousness to look through this other lens and say that there is love flowing in this situation somewhere beneath the apparent situation that I don’t understand. I don’t know how it is working or why it’s happening it’s happening the way it is but I’m ready to be open to the possibility that there is love flowing and I’m willing to give love to everybody in this situation if I can muster it. If I can bring it up for myself and that’s where the work is, trying to love people who are doing you harm is not easy. And that’s where the tools come in and the tools help us to fake it until we make it. That’s basically the idea. So I don’t see the world any differently to anybody else except that maybe I’m just trying to keep my mind open to the other possibility that everything is beautifully orchestrated by spirit, or by my own spiritual intelligence in cahoots with everybody else’s spiritual intelligence so it gives us a group consciousness to create the world in the way that we are creating it. I am pretty sure, however, that if there was a large number of people in the world who are willing to hold this idea and to see through this lens that things like terrorism, nuclear war and everything else would disappear. I feel pretty sure about that. I don’t have any proof for it, but I’m pretty sure that we get what our consciousness creates and that the moment the mass consciousness is very fear oriented and it’s creating a situation which out pictures that particular consciousness so if we change our consciousness I think the world would change immediately.
TS: Now you used interesting language that you look through a spiritual lens to see that there’s love flowing…what do you mean by that?
CT: Well another to put it that would be more religious is that the hand of God is there somewhere and that I’m willing to hold on to that idea. That this is not as bad as it seems. I have a limited perception of how things are, of what reality is and that there is a much bigger reality than I can possibly conceive of and that it’s orchestrates by a much higher consciousness than we human beings have at this present time.
TS: OK. Now I know you’ve also done quite a bit of work with Radical Forgiveness and healing…various health challenges that people have and especially cancer. I’m wondering if you can speak directly to that connection. What’s the connection between health and Radical Forgiveness?
CT: Well, just to back up a little bit. It’s how I actually came to do Radical Forgiveness because when I was doing the hypnotherapy I had a practice and I seemed to be attracting people who had cancer and I didn’t really know why. But I also at the same time was developing an interest in forgiveness and I really didn’t know why I was developing that interest either. Until I found out that the research shows pretty clearly that people who get cancer tend to have a really hard time forgiving. In other words, they have a tendency towards suppressing or repressing their feelings and burying them deep down, and especially rage and especially grief and that it comes out as a physical disease like cancer, not always cancer but cancer is a very likely outcome of having repressed or not resolved a lot of issues. So it was at that point when I realized why the two things had come together in my life and so I put them together, but then realized that tradition forgiveness was not going to help these people at all because it was too difficult and it would take too long and they’ve been avoiding it forever anyway. So that was when we came up with Radical Forgiveness as a way to get these people free of the victim energy that was a strong causation factor in their disease. So we set out to do cancer retreats for people in the north Georgia mountains to teach them how to use this form of forgiveness and they were able to do it within a few days and to change their life. I’m not saying that it healed anybody. We have some wonderful stories to tell, but I’m not claiming healing. I do claim that we do help people heal their lives to the degree that they may well have extended their lives quite considerably by doing the work, by doing the forgiveness because it released the energy. Now, when we hold on to victim stories, those victim stories carry an enormous amount of energy and that energy has to be stored somewhere and I believe that it gets stored in every cell of our body and eventually if we hold it there long enough it’s going to come out as some form of physical disease. And so we feel very strongly that what we’re doing with our Radical Forgiveness workshops is actually cancer prevention because it’s releasing that energy that otherwise would come out as a physical disease.
TS: Do you think it’s possible that some people have cancer but there’s no correlation to bottled up rage and grief?
CT: Yah. I mean cancer can be causes by lots of different things…additives in food, radiation and all sorts of other things. But there is some research that was done in England some years ago now that put forward the point of you that there are only two predictors of cancer: one is the gene factor, genetic factor, and the other one is the way that people have chosen to handle their emotions over the years. Those are the only two predictors and he did research to show that if you took a bunch of people and divided in terms of how they handled their emotions, then those people who repressed and stuffed them were much more likely to get cancer than people who didn’t. So there is a correlation between that, but of course there are many reasons why people get cancer too. But the emotional factor is now getting a lot of medical validation too. The doctors in the medical profession are beginning to really get a handle on the idea that there is a huge emotional factor in the causation of cancer.
TS: What do you think is a healthy way to relate to our emotions?
CT: To be willing to feel them. That’s the main thing. Not to be frightened of feelings. One of the things that we stress in the whole process of doing Radical Forgiveness is that you have to start where you are and to allow yourself to feel the rage, the anger, the grief, the resentment, the jealousy…whatever it is that’s causing that victim story to stay there, the first thing one has to do is to feel them and allow themselves to be there without you judging them. So we in this society are very…I don’t know what the term is, but we don’t allow people to have negative feelings, and I just don’t think that’s right. We should allow ourselves to have whatever feelings are there but to know how to work with them…how to control them, how to express them, and how to work out the energy so that they don’t hang there in the body. What we do to ourselves when we don’t allow ourselves to have these feelings is that we set up these energy patterns of unresolved emotional energy that will somehow eventually come out as disease and that’s unhealthy. So feel them, express them safely and know how to handle them.
TS: So what in the Radical Forgiveness method makes sure that people don’t skip over that step? Because I’m sure people could hear about spiritual reality, you know everything that happened was purposeful and for the greater good I get it, and they further stuff their rage and grief and convince themselves that what happened was for the greater good.
CT: Well, I mean you know I’m with them personally doing the work in the workshops I can’t control that, but everything that I ever write and everything that I ever talk about stresses the need for this to be prior. That if you don’t allow yourself to have the feelings in the beginning then there’s no way you can transform them. You can’t heal what you don’t feel. But the worksheets and the tools and everything that I use in order to help people do this stress that necessity to allow yourself to have the feelings. And most people–when you tell them that the feelings are not to be judged and there is no such thing as a negative feeling and that it’s safe to express them—will go with it. Now sometimes you need to find a way to make it safe for people if they’re frightened of their emotions, and a lot of people are, especially anger. So that is one of the things that we try to do is to create situations that people can create for themselves if they’re not in a coaching situation or a workshop situation where they can feel safe and supported no matter what happens.
TS: So is your experience that, let’s say that somebody feels victimized by something and there’s a lot of rage or grief or whatever the feelings are, that if they say, “OK. I’m going to really…I’m going to allow myself to feel these feelings,” that that lasts a period of time but it doesn’t go on and on and on endlessly. That it sort of has an arch and then there’s space that opens up for the next step?
CT: Right. Well that’s what the tools allow us to do, you see. Every tool that we have, including the board game…we have a really nice board game for Radical Forgiveness.
TS: Interesting! Wow!
CT: Yah we do! It’s really nice.
TS: Do I play it with the person that I think is my perpetrator? Play the board game?
CT: Probably not a good idea.
TS: Right. OK.
CT: But you can use it and play it with people who haven’t done Radical Forgiveness before and it’s a way of introducing people to that whole idea because they get to feel it. They feel the success of it. But in all of those tools that we use we stress that you have to do all five stages. The first stage is to tell the story, what happened? And tell it from the perspective of a victim. No spiritual overlay, no psychological excuses…just say, “This is what happened to me. This is what this person did to me.” And then as a result of her telling that story, that’s usually when the feelings come up…that’s when the anger arises, or the sadness or whatever it is underneath the story starts to come up and we give them full permission to feel those feelings and to do whatever they need to do to feel them. The beat cushions, scream into a cushion, go out in the car and scream—that’s what my wife usually does—and then whatever it takes to allow those feelings to come up. That’s the second stage. The third stage is to take that story and start to pull it apart a little bit to see how much interpretation you’ve added to the story, how much you might be able to understand why the person did what they did, and all of the things that you would normally do with normal forgiveness. And then the fourth stage is to do the Radical Forgiveness reframe and that’s the one traditional forgiveness can’t do, it stops right there. And that reframe is where we take the story and say, “OK, this happened but there was a reason for it and I’m willing to be open to the possibility that it was divinely inspired and that whatever happened was for my highest and best good and I’m willing to be open to that possibility.” That’s the reframe, and then the last stage is to integrate somehow into the physical body by doing something physical and with the worksheet, of course, you’re just writing so that’s enough. With the 13 steps you’re saying yes, you’re using your voice, but in the workshops we do breath work, we do dance, anything that’s going to get people to integrate that new story into their physical body. So that it replaces the old story. So those five stages are essential and if somebody just does the first part, see most people if you go to a therapist you get to tell your story over and over and over again, and you keep reinforcing the story. Once we’ve told it once and told it thoroughly then we’ve moved on and transformed into something else. That’s what Radical Forgiveness does.
TS: I was completely with you on the first and second step. No problem. Tell the story, and go in the car and scream. On the third step, trying to have some insight into what was happening for the other person, you know I’ve experienced myself working with that to varying degrees of success, to be quite honest, and then the fourth and fifth steps I think more unique to the method of Radical Forgiveness and are more foreign to me, and I’m wondering if you could give us an example maybe of someone you’ve worked with and especially emphasize the 3rd, 4th and 5th steps?
CT: The third one is what we would normally do in traditional forgiveness, as I say you know, to analyze the story…to try to see where we had unrealistic expectations of the person, to walk in their shoes, to say “Well maybe if I had been in that situation I would have been just as ugly myself.” Those kinds of things you do in that…we call that the “collapsing the story piece.” It’s where you collapse it down to what’s just true, what actually happened, why you think it happened and so on. But that 4th step, the reframe, this is when we bring the metaphysical point of view in. This is where we shift it to start looking at the situation through the lens of the spiritual perspective so to speak. And it can be as simple as simply repeating what I just said was, “OK I’m willing to be open the possibility that everything happens for a reason and when this person did what they did because that’s what my soul wanted and I got the lesson that I needed at the soul level,” and so on. Because as I said earlier on, you don’t have to believe this, belief is not necessary. Belief is a mental thing. What we’re doing here is spiritual and just by saying that you’re open to the idea that there were spiritual reasons for everything happening the way it did, that seems to resonate with your spiritual intelligence and everything shifts at that point, energetically. It doesn’t change anything mentally, but it changes everything energetically, and we’ve had story after story where you get evidence that the energy has shifted, I’ll give you one instance. We had a man who was in his 40’s somewhere, mid 40’s I would say and he had spent a lot of his life in prison. And to go back to where he was as a child, he got beaten everyday by his father, badly and became pretty much a criminal through that. But he’d never been able to express his anger towards his father, ever. And so when he came to the workshop and told his story—we gave him the permission to feel his anger—and then underneath the anger was shame. And he said he had a daughter. When he got taken into prison she was only 3 months old. So when he went home that day– that was on a Sunday when he did that–he gets home and on Monday he gets a phone call from a woman and she says, “You don’t know who I am. I’m 29 years old. I’m your daughter and I just had a feeling that I needed to find you and I’ve managed to find out where you were and I want to meet you.” So those kinds of stories happen all of the time. So not only was he able to heal his own energy, if you like, in his own situation, but it affected her as well and motivated at some deep level, because she didn’t know why she was being drawn to call him or find out where he was, but it seems pretty evident to us as we see these things happen over and over again that there was some energetic pull between her and him that was activated when he released his energy around that situation…his shame. It was his release of the shame, not the anger, but the same was under the anger. So those kinds of things happen all of the time. You get results all the time that seem to give evidence that something must’ve happened for these things to happen.
TS: Ok, and then the 5th stage, as you said, is just a physical reinforcement of what you’ve learned to make sure that it’s really grounded in your body and in your life?
CT: Right. The victim story was very much located in the cellular structure of your own body and had stayed there and what we had done in the process of doing the Radical Forgiveness you let go of your victim story and taken on a new story, a spiritual story if you like, what that needs to do is to get anchored in the physical body in place of the old victim story. That way it becomes permanent.
TS: OK, so your own experience with working with people is that whatever victim story they’ve told themselves or whatever their beliefs are that that’s all encoded physically?
CT: Yes. I’m pretty sure of that and not only in the physical body but in the subtle bodies too…the emotional, mental, and spiritual body. So we’re dealing with, when we do this work I think we’re dealing with all five bodies at the same time in order to get the energy pattern released from all five bodies.
TS: And are grief and rage…are those the two emotional experiences that you see most often tied to people’s victim stories?
CT: And sadness. Anger is usually the one that’s at the top but there’s always something underneath anger. Anger is like a primary emotion and then there’s a secondary emotion underneath it which is usually the main thing. Actually it’s the other way around, anger would be a secondary emotion and then underneath it is a primary one and that’s usually rage, grief or sadness. Those are the main ones that come up. But then you’ve got other things like resentment and feeling abandoned, feeling insignificant, you know all of those kinds of emotions that are making people that they’re not enough or that they’ll never be successful…I mean it really does block a tremendous amount of you potential for living when holding all of these stories.
TS: And you mentioned that most people aren’t that skilled at letting their emotions come forward and flow through them…that that’s not a skill that many people have. I’m curious why you think that’s so difficult and what you can say to help people at letting their emotions flow through them.
CT: Well I think it’s a cultural thing. I think there are countries in the world where people are much more able to express their feeling and to be more open in that way. You know, I come from Great Britain as you know and we’re probably worse than the Americans at this. We have this idea that we are not supposed to show our emotions. We have a stiff upper lip and I think to some extent that’s true of people over here, but not nearly as bad as England. So it is cultural but I think the other part of that is after we have developed a pattern of stuffing our emotions we’re scared to bring them up because we’re frightened that we might lose control. Control is a big issue for Americans and I think that’s the main reason why people are so reluctant to go near them because they might become so vulnerable and also lose control, especially with anger and especially with men. Men are very frightened of their own rage. And yet what I can tell people is that I have yet to find anybody–in some of our workshops we really do allow people to get into their rage—I’ve yet to see anybody lose control. The good thing is that the subconscious mind will only allow us to do what we’re capable of handling and we might get so far and say “that’s enough.” We have to honor that and you say “OK, that’s good.” But find someone to help you handle it. A lot of therapists are even frightened of people’s anger, and so they do nothing but talk therapy. I don’t think talk therapy gets you anywhere.
TS: But working with a therapist in a situation where your emotions were able to come fully forward could be really helpful?
CT: Yes, could be very helpful, especially if it combines some physical activity with it too. I mean you know yourself, if you are angry the first you want to do is go and find something to do. Rather than kicking the cat, you go and chip wood, dig the garden or you do something…just doing physical activity seems to help.
TS: Now you mentioned that it’s partially cultural. In what countries are people emotionally literate in your view?
CT: Well, I think the Mediterranean countries tend to be more able to deal with their emotions openly. I don’t have a whole lot of experience with those. I do have experience with Maories, New Zealand Maoris and those guys know how to do it. They bounce and they work it through, you know, they have ways of processing their feelings.
TS: Now you chuckled there for a moment Colin, were you imagining something? Were you imagining a fiery ceremony or something?
CT: In New Zealand you mean?
CT: Yah. Joanne and I got invited to speak at the Maori University in Hamilton, New Zealand. I went and presented a book to them and they were able to…they went through a lot of rituals for us…as their gift to us they did a lot of rituals. In their ritual they were expressing lots of feelings and they were expressing them emotionally and physically and then we did a workshop in the afternoon and taught Radical Forgiveness to these Maoris and they were somewhat closed at the beginning but they allowed themselves to really feel it and get into it and they just went with it, you know. It was very different. Actually, I think Americans on the whole; it doesn’t take much to get them into their feelings once they’re ready.
TS: Now, I know in some of your work and some of the more recent developments you’ve actually applied the idea of Radical Forgiveness to weight loss. I’m curious what the connection is there and how you explain it.
CT: Yah. Well how that occurred is that we do this workshop called “The Miracles Workshop,” and that’s pretty intense and people really do get into their stuff and really transform a victim story. We often get people who are sexually abused and who carry a tremendous amount of weigh in the midriff area, hips and the lower part of the body. What we discovered was that when checking up on some people after they’d left is that they’d spontaneously lost weight after the workshop, especially who had had the issue of sexual abuse. So we put two and two together and said, well what was keeping the weight on was their subconscious fear of attack, sexual attack. I mean what better way to make yourself unattractive sexually than to put on a tremendous amount of weight, and we are talking about people who are obese here. We’re not talking about people who just carry a few extra pounds. We’re talking about people who really pack on the weight as a defense against sexual attack; subconsciously of course, they don’t know that they’re doing it necessarily. So we developed a weight loss package that would help people to release that victim story about being sexually abused and potentially vulnerable to attack and we find that there is a release of the story. What we say with that weight loss kit is that the only that you have to give up with this program are the stories that cause the weight gain in the first place. So, of course it’s not the whole answer. If there’s a food addiction and things like that, you’ve got to work on that too. Here again we’re looking at the emotional aspect of why people carry a lot of weight in certain areas of their bodies particularly.
TS: Now a final question, Colin. Our program is called Insights at the Edge and one of the things I’m curious about is what edge people are working on in their own life, meaning, what for you is a current challenge or a growing interesting opportunity for you in your own growth and development…your own edge?
CT: Interesting question…well I guess one of the things that I’m working with now, I’m not sure that it’s a forgiveness issue, but it’s a feeling of wanting to be back in England in order to connect more with my own family. All of them are over there and so I’m planning to go and spend 3 months in the summer over there not knowing what I’m going to do, how it’s going to work out, whether I’m going to work or not. So I’m on the edge in that sense of now knowing quite how this is all going to work out and what I’m going to do when I get there.
TS: Very good! Shows a lot of trust.
CT: Yah. There’s something in me that’s pulling me back home. I’ve been away from England now for 25 years and there’s something in there that says that I’ve got to go home. I don’t know quite why or what it is that is drawing me but I need to do it and my wife Joanne is giving me full support. She’ll be with me some of the time, but not all of the time. I want to be on my own for quite a considerable time there.
TS: Well I wish you the best with that journey. Colin Tipping, the author of a new book from Sounds True on Radical Forgiveness as well as an audio learning series on the same topic, Radical Forgiveness, and a three part online event that begins on February 2nd that focuses on Radical Forgiveness for healing and will look at issues such as, Radical Forgiveness as an emotional detox system, and the connection between Radical Forgiveness and cancer and weight loss and other issues specific to the healing process.