Sunday, May 11, 2014

FHE 5-11-14

Here are my notes from a family home evening I gave a few weeks ago.

Ask everyone: Can you think of something you have done wrong recently, that you have needed to apologize to someone for? (Give everyone several minutes, until everybody has something in mind)

Here is an explanation of the next idea I tried to share:
"Although many people use these two words interchangeably, from a psychological perspective, they actually refer to different experiences. Guilt and shame sometimes go hand in hand; the same action may give rise to feelings of both shame and guilt, where the former reflects how we feel aboutourselves and the latter involves an awareness that our actions have injured someone else. In other words, shame relates to self, guilt to others. I think it's useful to preserve this distinction, even though the dictionary definitions often blur it:
a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrong, etc., whether real or imagined.
the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous, etc., done by oneself or another.
According to Dictionary.com, then, guilt involves the awareness of having done something wrong; it arises from our actions (even if it might be one that occurs in fantasy). Shame may result from the awareness of guilt but apparently is not the same thing as guilt. It's a painful feeling about how we appear to others (and to ourselves) and doesn't necessarily depend on our having done anything."

We watched a Brene Brown Video from 13:58 to 14:45 (found at http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_listening_to_shame#t-1137957) and discussed the idea of guilt vs. shame. 
Then I asked:
By these definitions, what do you think the purpose of shame is?
What is the purpose of guilt? 

Next we watched the music video found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGnytpiYUpc (and read the lyrics from https://www.lds.org/music/text/other/godly-sorrow?lang=eng). If you have time, though, it makes a lot more sense if you watch the entire story of the music video, found at https://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2012-06-2350-godly-sorrow-leads-to-repentance. (If you want the music without that story line, you can find a video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Fu7sgsyFB4 - though it doesn't have any story line, and I think the pictures make limited sense the way they are aligned with the lyrics.)

We concluded that the purpose of guilt is to lead to change within ourselves, so that we will come to Christ and to become more like him.

Next I asked, Does anyone remember what the repentance process is? (Then we asked everyone to list the steps.)

Someone - who I think was guided by the Holy Ghost - turned the repentance process into an apology process for kids to use in classrooms. We have started using it in our family, and we find it very valuable. There are four steps (from http://www.cuppacocoa.com/a-better-way-to-say-sorry/):

I’m sorry for…
This is wrong because…
In the future, I will…
Will you forgive me?

To practice this, we asked a couple of the adults there to role play, pretending to be their own kids, and make up a situation in which they would need to apologize, and then complete the apology. (This was a lot of fun to watch!)

I also shared a time when I recently used a four step apology. One night I had a plan in mind for the next day but I wanted to get Tux Man's opinion on what the plan should be; so, rather than telling him what I was thinking, I started by asking his opinion. When he didn't come up with my plan, and the plan he did come up with was much more inconvenient and unpleasant for me (involving extra time in a carseat for a baby who hates his carseat), I got upset with him (Tux Man). After thinking through the situation, I offered a four step apology; Tux Man recognized what I was doing half way through, and before I was done we were both smiling about it.

As the cuppacocoa article concluded, when these four step apologies were used, "It was no longer a matter of embarrassment or shame, but simply acknowledging 1) what went wrong, 2) who was affected, 3) how to change, and 4) asking forgiveness."

Finally we discussed the question, How does this correlate to the repentance process?

(We also briefly discussed how there is no obligation for the person who is being apologized to, to forgive.)

I concluded by bearing testimony of repentance and the positive impact that truly apologizing can have on family relationships.

Here are some other notes on apologizing that I found when preparing for this lesson.

From http://www.askmen.com/money/body_and_mind_150/177_better_living.html:

"Take Responsibility for your actions. Acknowledge the repercussions. Ask for forgiveness OR offer redress. 
Shut up and let it end."

When asking for forgiveness, don't say "Maybe someday you can forgive me" because that implies that you 
are already in the right, and it's up to them to come around. Instead say, "I hope that you'll forgive me" or "Will
you forgive me?"

From http://www.oprah.com/spirit/The-Art-of-an-Apology

The perfect moment to apologize is the moment you realize you've done something wrong.

This seems obvious when we're contemplating somebody else's sins, but in the harsh light of our own guilt, we often try to protect ourselves from shame or censure by waiting for the heat to blow over. We may try to postpone apologizing or avoid it altogether by lying, blaming others, making excuses or justifying our actions. The impulse to go into such a stall is a big ol' signal. When you really don't want to say you're sorry, it's almost certainly time to do so.

On the other hand, you may be one of those people who apologize when they haven't done anything wrong. This is as false as failing to say you're sorry when circumstances warrant it. If you frequently apologize, it's time to stop. This kind of pseudo-apology may ease awkward conversations, but it's a form of crying wolf—it distracts attention from real issues and weakens meaningful apologies when the time for them arrives.

Aaron Lazare, MD, a psychiatrist and dean of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, has spent years studying acts of contrition in every context, from interpersonal to international. 
An effective apology is, as Lazare puts it, "an act of honesty, an act of humility, an act of commitment, an act of generosity, and an act of courage.

An apology is the end of our struggle with history, the act by which we untangle from our past by accepting what it actually was. From this truthful place we are free to move forward, whether or not we are forgiven. Apologizing doesn't make us perfect, but it shows our commitment to be honest about our imperfections and steadfast in our efforts to do better.