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The Power to Resolve the Past Is Within You?

Posted: February 15, 2015 by Rob Voyle

Take a moment and think of something such as a resentment that you would like to resolve...
Something that you would like to find some resolution to...

The word "resolve" is very interesting to me. It simply means to "re"-"solve" or solve again. Likewise resolution means "apply the solution again."

So if we go back to the thing you would like to resolve, all we need to do is find out how you solved the situation or something similar in the past and use that solution to bring resolution to the current predicament.

The challenge is that in most situations we don't know how we resolved things in the past. We just seemed to do it over time, and we then assume that "time heals."

What I have discovered is that time heals absolutely nothing.

I have known people in their eighties who were still traumatized and having flashbacks of what they experienced as young men in the second world war. If time healed anything these men would have been well and truly healed.

On the other hand what I have discovered that what brings healing is what we do during the time.

If we were to think of resolving a resentment we can reflect on other people that at one time we resented but for some reason when we remember them today our memory of them no longer leads to feelings of anger or distress. Some how we resolved that resentment, which technically we call forgiveness.

The key here is to pay attention to "how" we remember the person we resent and the person we have forgiven.

Like the word resolve, the word "remember" is made of two parts "re" and "member" it means "put back together again in consciousness." Remembering is a huge part of our faith experience. We remember Biblical stories. We celebrate Eucharist to remember Jesus.

So "how" do we remember a person we currently resent and a person we have forgiven. Do we "see" pictures of them in our mind, do we "hear" conversations with then again in our mind, do we just have a "sense" of their presence.

Within these general categories of "seeing," "hearing," or "sensing" we also have sub-categories. Our internal pictures may be big or small, clear or fuzzy; internal sounds may be loud or quiet, fast or slow; and our internal sense may seem close or distant, vague or precise etc.

What we need to do is get very specific and precise with "how" we remember. One of the best ways to determine the specifics is to listen to the metaphoric ways we describe our memories. For example we may often say: "It is very clear to me..." or "My memory is a little fuzzy on what happened..."

In this situation if we were to check we would find that our "internal pictures" of the event are clear or fuzzy.

Likewise if someone were to say: "We used to be very close, but now we are quite distant." You would find that the first "internal picture" would be closer than the second "internal picture."

Now if we were to go back to the situation you would like to resolve and determine how you are "re-membering" that and how you "re-member" a similar situation that you have resolved you will find that there are quite distinct differences in "how" you are "re member." The solution is to "re-member" the unresolved situation the same way that you "re-member" the resolved experience.

So if we were to apply that to resentment, we would discover and contrast the way you remember a current resentment and the way you remember a resolved resentment. We would find that there a very specific and distinct differences in the way you remember. Re-membering a present resentment the way we remember a resolved resentment will instantly bring relief from the resentment and its present distress.

This approach is at the heart of the Appreciative Way of Resolving. We simply discover how you have resolved experiences in the past and then use your own unique way of resolving to current predicaments.

In Restoring Hope: Appreciative Strategies to Resolve Grief and Resentment I have detailed protocols for exploring how people remember and how to create sustainable solutions to truama, grief and resentment by simply changing the "how" people remember.

You can find Restoring Hope in the bookstore.

With Transfiguration Blessings
Rob Voyle.

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About the Author

Rob Voyle

Rob Voyle

The Rev. Dr. Rob Voyle is a leader in the development and use of appreciative inquiry in church and coaching settings.

Rob's Approach to Training

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