I will acknowledge that initially holding a grudge feels good and just and right, but over time it becomes toxic to us and to those who care about us.
I was taught to think about forgiveness in a completely new way based on the teachings of Dr. Edith Eger, a Holocaust survivor and psychologist, and the author of two amazing books - The Choice and The Gift.
I know that a lot of you are out in the world suffering because of the grudges that you're holding against other people, and I hope that through Dr. Eger's example, you'll easily grant forgiveness to release the chains of victimhood.
Since you’re ready to become your favorite version of you, book a consult to learn more about working with me as your coach.
"The whole reason to step out of victimhood is so that we can step into the rest of our lives." - Dr. Edith Eger
What you'll learn in this episode:
The liberating power of forgiving oneself and others
The transformative power of changing perspective from "why me?" to "what now?"
Insights from Dr. Edith Eger, on the power of forgiveness and overcoming victimhood
How to break free from both external and internal victimhood
"The pain in your story has a purpose. One day it will help someone survive." - Lauren Fortenberry
Mentioned in this episode:
Dr. Edith Eger - Holocaust survivor and Psychologist
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Read the full episode transcript
Hey, this is Melissa Parsons, and you are listening to the Your Favorite You Podcast. I'm a certified life coach with an advanced certification in deep dive coaching. The purpose of this podcast is to help brilliant women, like you, with beautiful brains create the life you've been dreaming of with intention.
My goal is to help you find your favorite version of you by teaching you how to treat yourself as your own best friend. If this sounds incredible to you and you want practical tips on changing-up how you treat yourself, then you're in the right place. Just so you know, I'm a huge fan of using all of the words available to me in the English language, so please proceed with caution if young ears are around.
Well, hey there, welcome back to Your Favorite You. I know I keep saying this, but it is true. I cannot believe that we are at episode 50. Thank you so much for listening every week and for reaching out to me with love about the podcast. I truly hope that it is so useful to you.
Today, I want to talk about forgiveness, because I know that a lot of you are out in the world suffering because of the grudges that you're holding against other people. I think I have learned the most about forgiveness from one of the many incredible women that I have come to admire over the past several years.
You guys have heard me talk about her before. If you were following me on social media during the summer of 2022, you saw a video I posted of me talking to this woman over Zoom, thanks to the incredible generosity of my friend and colleague, Sunny Smith, who invited so many of us to a Zoom call that she had set up with the one and only Dr Edith Eger.
Dr. Eger is the author of two books that I love and recommend to almost anyone and everyone who will listen to me. Her best-selling books are called The Choice and the Gift. Dr. Eger is a Holocaust survivor and a psychologist. She is still living and working to this day at the age of 95, and she will actually turn 96 on September 29th.
So happy early birthday, Dr. Eger. I will locate the video where you'll be able to see me crying as I'm talking to her. She spoke to us for about an hour and then opened it up for questions. I raised my hand because I knew it would likely be the only opportunity, I would ever have to thank her for sharing her amazingness with the world by writing her books.
I realized when she was talking how much I had incorporated her teachings into my coaching and how many of the words I was saying to my clients at the time were actually her words and concepts. My boys and their friends still talk to this day about how incredible it was to see me being able to talk to her and to thank her across the miles. So anyways, I digress.
As usual, Dr. Eger talks in her books about getting to a place where she was actually able to forgive the Nazis who killed her parents and who held her and her sister captive in the concentration camps until they were liberated by American soldiers at the end of the war. She also talks about the work she did to forgive herself for claiming her mom is her mom instead of her sister.
After she said her mom was her mom, when they were lined up to enter the camp, her mom went to the line of people to be executed instead of staying online with she and her sister, who eventually went on to become prisoners. So, Edie held that guilt for many years that if she would have lied and said that her mom was her sister, her mom may have been able to survive. So, she held that guilt for a really long time before finally deciding to forgive herself.
I figure, if she can forgive those who killed her family and she can forgive herself in order to live a healthier life for herself, I can surely forgive those who I feel have wronged me and I can teach my clients how to do the same. I will acknowledge that initially holding a grudge feels good and just and right, but over time it becomes toxic to us and to those who care about us. I love the quote.
That quote resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for it to kill your enemies. I found this quote attributed to so many people, including the Buddha, Nelson Mandela, St Augustine. I don't know who said it or who said it first, but I'm not sure it matters, as long as you know that I am not claiming to have come up with this. I'm only claiming to love it and to subscribe to it.
Dr. Eger talks about the prism of victim victimhood in her book The Gift. The chapters are divided up. The one I read was 12 chapters and each chapter was different prisons that we keep ourselves in, and she called the first chapter the prison of victimhood. No one is going to escape this life without being a victim at some point. I think there is a difference between occasionally being a victim and living in victimhood.
Dr. Eger explains it very well in The Choice. She states that victimhood comes from the outside. It's the neighborhood bully, the boss who rages, the spouse who hits, the lover who cheats, the discriminatory law, the accident that lands you in the hospital. In contrast, she states, victimhood comes from the inside. No one can make you a victim, but you. We become victims, not because of what happens to us, but when we choose to hold on to our victimization.
As Dr. Eger says in the Gift quote, we don't get to choose what happens to us, but we do get to choose how we respond to our experience. Many of us stay stuck in victimhood because we've been in this state for so long that it feels comfortable to us, only because it's familiar. In addition, as Dr. Eger points out, many of us stay victims because it gives us license to do zero on our own behalf. She makes it very clear in the books and I want to make it clear here too that this is not about blaming the victim.
In fact, she says that she quote lives to guide others to a position of empowerment in the face of all of life's hardships. I realize now that this is what I love to do to guide you to always see your own power as your coach. There is so much power and forgiveness. It gives you so much freedom to forgive. There is so much power in stepping out from victimhood into being a survivor of all that has happened to you in life. There is incredible power in figuring out how all the shit that happened to you actually happened for you.
I, like Dr. Eger, invite you to make The Choice to be free by choosing forgiveness in The Gift.
Dr. Eger suggests an exercise where you write a letter to each person or situation you feel has wronged you. You spell it all out for yourself in the letter. Then you go a step further and write a letter to the same person or situation, thanking them, expressing gratitude for what the person or the situation taught you about yourself and helped you grow into the person you are now.
I cannot express the power that writing these letters had for me. I did not send them. In fact, half of the people I wrote to are no longer living. The letters, just like the forgiveness, were not for the other person, they were for me.
Dr. Eger implores us to notice the healing power of shifting your point of view from being a powerless victim to who you really are a survivor person of strength. As she states, the whole reason to step out of victimhood is so that we can step into the rest of our lives. You may not realize it because you have not had the chance to think about it, but I would invite you to think about the people in your life that you are still holding grudges against. How is it helping you to continue to hold these grudges?
I think we get stuck because we feel like if we forgive the other person, we are somehow giving them a pass, saying that how they treated us was okay. This is not what forgiveness is about. It is more, how you treated me was not okay, but I realized that holding this grudge after months, years, decades. It's actually hurting me more than the initial insult in some of the cases.
The other reason we get stuck, I think, is because we think that if we forgive the other person, we are somehow making ourselves vulnerable to getting hurt again, like forgiving them will somehow make us more likely to let the same thing happen over again. It doesn't work like that. That's just our brain's distorted way of trying to protect us and keep us safe.
Another very powerful tool that Dr. Eger suggests practicing is, instead of thinking why me, think what now? Yes, this happened, and now I have the chance to look at all The Choices and possibilities of what I can create from here. He says that this is the first tool for moving out of victimhood. Approach whatever is happening with a gentle embrace.
It doesn't mean you have to like what is happening, but when you stop fighting and resisting, you will have more energy and imagination ready to figure out what now. So, this is my challenge to all of you. Figure out how you might be poisoning yourself by holding onto grudges and resentments.
Figure out who you need to forgive. Write them letters of forgiveness. Then write them letters of gratitude. When you are done with all of that, you will have figured out how these people who you have not been able to forgive have made you into the incredible survivor you are today.
Interestingly, you may find that you are on the list of people that you need to forgive. You may find that you are on the list of people for whom you want to express gratitude. That is some meta shit right there. What do I need to forgive myself? For what do I need to thank myself for? How am I the hero of my own damn story, with all of the power that will come from doing these exercises?
Then ask yourself the question okay, so what now? What do I want to do with all of this knowledge? What do I want to do with this one precious life that I am living?
Some of you may have realized that coaching is part of your what now? I would love it if you contacted me for a consult so that we can figure out where you want to go from here. I am here for it. I think it is totally apropos that my life on purpose calendars quote for today is from Lauren Fortenberry.
She says quote the pain in your story has a purpose. One day it will help someone survive. Unquote. I know this is true of Dr. Eger sharing her story for me and for all of my clients. I hope that this podcast has that purpose for you today too. Okay, I will see you next week, folks.
Thank you for listening to the podcast and loving on me all the time. Now that my group launch is closed, I am opening up two spots to work with me one-on-one. If one-on-one coaching is more your jam, please reach out to me to book a consult by going to my website, MelissaParsonsCoaching.com, and clicking on the Work with Me tab.
I would love to discuss with you how I can help you on a one-on-one basis. Talk to you soon.
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