Forgiveness: A Key to Transformation and Growth

Gardens are springing up in neighborhoods and local communities all around. Locally grown food is soaring in popularity. Farmers markets have increased over the last few years, as have many other local businesses, such as food coops, green grocers, and book stores. These are just a few ways in which people are rediscovering the benefits of an economy rooted in the local community and independent business. These community efforts help us to share more, make it with less, and put people and planet first.

The Choice is Yours

Lifetree News
Creating Prosperity with Harmony
Alice G. Vlietstra, Ph.D.
May, 2010
The Choice is Yours

In This Issue

1.  Welcome
2.  The Choice is Yours
3.  Take a Breath and Reflect
4.  Rediscover Your Community

1.  Welcome

Gardens are springing up in neighborhoods and local communities all around.
Locally grown food is soaring in popularity. Farmers markets have increased over the last few years, as have many other local businesses, such as food coops, green grocers, and book stores. These are just a few ways in which people are rediscovering the benefits of an economy rooted in the local community.

These community efforts help us to share more, make it with less, and put people and planet first. For many, the downfall in the stock market, the loss of jobs, and global warming has been a wake-up call. Change is needed. The process of change is marked by moving towards what we want, leaving behind what we do not want. All too often, however, there is a tendency to complain when life brings stress. But is complaining a solution? The answer is no. Research shows that it only prolongs suffering. Far more powerful is your ability to use your experience to empower yourself, expand and grow.

This e-newsletter focuses on a key to expansion and growth - the practice of
forgiveness. Forgiveness is like preparing and turning the soil, pulling out
old roots for new seeds to take hold. We will look at the benefits of
forgiveness and give you tools for using it in your life.

2. The Choice is Yours

Let's face it. Often we find there is a big GAP between what we desire and what
we get. For example, your job may have been terminated and your investments may not have brought the return you desired. These situations bring stress into your life. Whether or not you continue to allow them to bring stress into your life,
however, is a choice. The choice is not about what happened, but how you handle it. A key to handling it well is to maintain a positive focus.

The practice of forgiveness in creating a positive focus has been extolled in
psychology as well as religious traditions around the world. Fred Luskin, a
researcher on the psychology of forgiveness, finds that forgiveness increases
physical vitality, optimism, hope, compassion, and relationship health.
Forgiveness also reduces the physical and emotional impact of stress, while
decreasing anger, hurt, depression and blood pressure (2002).

Forgiveness is often misunderstood. First, it is not for others but for you.
It does not mean condoning or justifying horrific acts but rather, taking
action for good. It is a conscious choice that allows you to honor your
larger intent to better others and yourself. One way to move out of hurt is
to become aware of how the negative experience has helped you know what
you don't want. This enables you to become clearer on what you do want.
Then your actions are more effective. A second way is to reclaim your power.

3. Take a Breath and Reflect

When you have a grievance, it is easy to see yourself as a victim.  When you
see yourself as a victim, you give your power to others.  When you see your
situation as an opportunity to become a victor, you take your power back.  
Critical for claiming your power is the ability to avert the stress response,
calm yourself, and take time to reflect.  The following is a quick way to
shift to a calmer mood.  It was developed by Fred Luskin (2002) and consists
of three steps.
 1.  Breathe - Bring your attention fully to your stomach as you slowly draw
     in and out two deep breaths. As you inhale, allow the air to gently push
     your belly out.  As you exhale, consciously relax your belly so that it
     feels soft.
 2.  Focus - On the next deep inhalation, bring to your mind's eye an image
     of someone you love or a beautiful scene in nature. Let it fill you with
     awe and wonder. Focus on your breath, and move your attention to your heart. Be grateful you are alive. This breathing exercise helps to take you out
     of your instinctual reactive response and draw upon the resources of your
     higher brain. 
 3.  Reflect  - Now ask yourself - "What is the highest and best way to handle
     this situation? Listen to the wisdom that comes from within.  When you
     take time to quiet yourself and move to positive emotion, it activates
     your frontal lobes.  This is the brain center for creativity and insight.
     Listen to the wisdom that comes from within. Trust what comes and do it.

We often look for answers outside of ourselves that are better found within. 
This three step process helps you to gain access to the resources of your
higher brain.  Try it several times a day and make it a habit. It will help
you access your heart's wisdom.

4. Rediscover Your Community

When you bring more positive emotion into your life, your hurts will diminish in
importance.   For example, many are stressed by the downturn of the economy. 
One way to overcome this is to remember that no matter how hard our institutions try, corporations and institutions cannot do many things that only people can do. Institutions can only offer services, -- not care.  

Care comes from what we do with those around us.  It comes freely from the heart.  Entrepreneurs often start their businesses in the garage or at the kitchen table. It is the support from the community that helps to build a market. In many areas, jobs are found  locally through word of mouth.  The neighborhood watch provides safety. The real key to maintaining health is a positive attitude, healthy food, and exercise.  All these are nurtured in our communities.  When we create
relationships and connections with the resources that we have, the power of the
community increases, building more with less.  John McKnight has written a
wonderful article on the power of our communities and neighborhoods. A link to
it is on the side bar.  It is well worth reading.

The challenge of our economy, in many ways, is part of a larger process in which we are becoming more inclusive, creating a world that works for all.  Forgiveness enables us to rebuild trust and compassion in our relationships, moving past the old to create a new, more positive, future.  It is a proven method for enhancing your health and happiness, and well worth a try. 

Warm Regards,
Dr. Alice


Luskin, Fred Ph.D. Forgive for Good:  A PROVEN Prescription for Health and
Happiness. NY:  HarperCollins, 2002. Website -

Newsletter Name: 
Lifetree News

Forgiveness - A Pattern, Not a Person

Successful Relating
Fulfillment through Connection and Community
Alice G. Vlietstra, Ph.D., Editor

June 2007

In This Issue:

1.  Welcome
2.  Early Conditioning 
3.  Take Time to Reflect
4.  Becoming Responsible
5.  Announcements

1.  Welcome

Welcome, friends.  This is the third of four e-newsletters on the gift of forgiveness.In the last e-newsletter, we focused on how making a choice to forgive promotes peace.In this e-newsletter you will learn how forgiveness relates to a hidden pattern, not a person.

Many times our need to forgive results from upsets in our relationships.  We think
these disturbances stem from present circumstances.  If problems keep coming up, however, they are most likely coming, not from the present, but from our early relationship blueprints. Often it is these early patterns that determine our choices
and create stress.

2.  Early Conditioning

As a child, when you learned to speak, language wasn't specifically taught. Your parents did not teach you vocabulary, grammar, or sentence structure. They did not teach you to have an accent or how to modulate the tone of your voice. You absorbed these lessons automatically. In the same way, we absorbed our ideas and models of how relationships work.

Often we select relationships, not consciously for desired characteristics and criteria, but subconsciously by choosing people that fit the scripts we observed in our childhood. For example, we might identify with one parent more than the other. As adults, if we are not aware of our blueprints, we tend to choose relationships that fit our early scripts and blueprints.

We also learned about relationships from the quality of our early interactions with caregivers, teachers, etc. Do you feel secure in your relationships?  Are they satisfying and supportive, or are they a source of anxiety, sadness, and emotional distress? Because of past hurts, do you avoid relationships? 

Everyone has had old rules and scripts that he or she learned from childhood.
learned from childhood. Often we do not question them, and they appear in
our relationship upsets.  Psychological research shows that by identifying
early negative relationship patterns and releasing the negative emotions and
beliefs attached to them, we can transcend them.

As we reflect on and make sense of our lives, we become more sensitive and accepting of others as well as ourselves. We become more able to appreciate differences and to resolve conflicts.

3.  Take Time to Reflect

Often when we experience upsets in our relationships, it actually may not be about the present, but about a pattern from the past. If you want to change your relationship patterns in the present, take time to reflect on your the early childhood conditioning. Observe your feelings, thoughts, and actions. Do they reflect your old scripts? Are they simply examples of habitual thinking? Are these patterns similar to those you saw in your parents? 
Like attracts like. If you are carrying negative feelings or beliefs from your early childhood relationships, you are most likely attracting situations that continue
to bring them into your present life. If you are willing, you can transform your
negative patterns. You can replace them with understanding, acceptance,
forgiveness, and ultimately, love. Then you can reset your relationship
blueprint for success.

I have mastered new cutting-edge modalities that can help you reset your old
blueprints. This includes helping you clarify what you want at present, and
release your old, negative relationship blueprints. 

By embracing a broader, more positive perspective, you can experience deeper
and more authentic connections.  Your feelings of connectedness will expand to
include all of humanity. You will attract healthier relationships and will experience
more love for your own, sweet self.

By uncovering and understanding the source of relationship upsets, we can harness the forces of compassion and forgiveness to bring about inner healing. This process allows us to create a new picture of ourselves and accept the differences we see in others.  We can choose to set limits with love and affection rather than with judgment. We can willingly choose to be inclusive.

4. Becoming Responsible

One of the best ways of releasing these old patterns is to stop taking things personally, and instead to look at the recurring problems as an old blueprint, pattern, or expectation.  Then each person can accept responsibility for his/her own feelings and behavior.  Neither person places blame on oneself or the other, but rather chooses to look inward for the true source of the pain. This process of looking within and seeing the source of the upset in its developmental and historical context, is evolutionary.

When we accept responsibility for our own perceptions, feelings, and beliefs,
we reclaim our personal power.  This frees us from the limitations of the past
and gives us new energy and wisdom to create a more fulfilling future.

This personal inner work is hugely significant! It is our spiritual work. It
affects everything we do and everyone with whom we come in contact. As we
release our early conditioning, we are better able to discover and fulfill our life
purpose.  Our relationships become more accepting, mindful, and loving.  We
will experience less stress and better health.  As more and more people are able
to do this, our world will become more harmonious, compassionate, and peaceful.  

5. Announcements

Monthly Mondays.  Come join our support group to release old blueprints and
free your majesty within. The next Monthly Monday is July  9, 7:00-9:30 p.m..
We will meet at 12131 Dorsett Road, Ste. 101, Maryland Heights, MO. E-mail
me for a flyer.

I will be giving a workshop “Mind, Money, and Spirit,” on Saturday, July 21,
2007, at 12131 Dorsett Road, Ste. 101. E-mail me for a flyer.

Warm Regards,

Dr. Alice


© Copyright 2007 Alice Vlietstra.  All rights reserved.

Newsletter Name: 
Successful Relating

Choosing Peace

Successful Relating
Fulfillment through Connection and Community
Alice G. Vlietstra, Ph.D., Editor

To subscribe or unsubscribe, see below.

May 2007

In This Issue:
1.  Welcome
2.  Choosing Peace - Forgiveness  
3.  Forgiveness Defined
4.  The Benefits of Forgiveness
5.  Moving Beyond the Obstacles
6.  Announcements

1.  Welcome

Welcome. We have just celebrated Memorial Day, in which we have honored those who have fought for our country. War has its place when defense is needed, and we need to honor those who have fought valiantly and given their lives for our country. At the same time, I would like to consider what we can do to continually honor them in our daily lives by making a choice for peace, one moment at a time.

In the last e-newsletter, I spoke of the “Gift of Forgiveness.”  In this newsletter I
would like to look at how making a choice to forgive promotes peace. Unfortunately forgiveness is rarely discussed, frequently misunderstood, and often less practiced. This e-newsletter is one of three follow-up newsletters on the “Gift of Forgiveness” to help us better understand it. In this
e-newsletter we will examine the benefits of the choice to forgive.

2.  Choosing Peace - Forgiveness

Frequently people who are successful, who contribute to society, are the people who  have experienced many setbacks and failures and have come through them.  They have often suffered much hardship and hurt. 

These examples demonstrate that the real key to success may not just be a focus on the positive, but how we overcome the negative. An important part of this success is a willingness to forgive, especially ourselves. It allows us to view setbacks differently, and to use the experience for good.

Forgiveness is often misunderstood. First, it is not just a one-time event, but also
is a process. Second, it has its appropriate time and place. It is not something that you might do immediately when under attack, and you might not want to consider it when you are angry.  Third, it does not need to mean, “Forgive and forget,” Instead, it is an opportunity to “Forgive and correct.”   Forgiveness is for those who know they have been wronged and are willing to reflect on the situation so they can view it differently.  

3. Forgiveness Defined

Luskin (2002) defines forgiveness as the following:

"The feeling of peace that emerges as you:

*Take hurt less personally,
*Take responsibility for how you feel,
*Become a hero instead of a victim in the
 story you have to tell."

Forgiveness is not:
*Condoning unkindness,
*Necessarily reconciling with the offender,
*Minimizing your hurt, and
*It does not have to  be a religious experience,
 or done for religious reasons (Luskin, 2002).

Forgiveness helps us to honor the pain of the past. It serves to remind us of the importance of taking positive action in the present. It can be used to help us celebrate growth.

4.  Benefits of Forgiveness

The following are a few benefits of forgiveness. It significantly enhances
our well-being and health.

*It frees us from being a victim of the  past, and provides a way to resolve
 painful memories.

*It allows us to set a positive example  that can help others.

*It helps to move from strength. When  we forgive, we know we have been hurt
 and are not ashamed of it. 

*It recognizes that no one is perfect.   It is what we do with our grievances
 that counts.  As a consequence,it helps  us to have more compassion with others.

Research findings:

The impact of forgiveness has been demonstrated in a number of research studies.  They are summarized very well by Luskin, (2002) in his book “Forgive for Good.”  Here are a few of the findings.

Luskin (2002) measured a number of symptoms of stress, such as a rising heart rate, upset stomach, and dizziness, on people who received
forgiveness training. Those who received forgiveness training had a significant reduction in symptoms of stress, compared with those who did not.

People who are more forgiving are the less likely to suffer from a wide range of illnesses, such as cardiovascular problems, headaches, etc.

Those who forgive experience greater emotional stability and improved relationships.

On the other hand, individuals who do not forgive evidence higher degrees of blame suffer more from a variety of illnesses and stress.  Blame is at
the core of holding a grudge, and results from an inability to manage anger and hurt.

5.  Overcoming the Obstacles

One of the main obstacles to forgiveness may not the hurt itself, but the lack of tools with which to forgive. We only imagine that that a problem is unforgivable.  Fortunately, forgiveness is now much better understood and new techniques are available.

The following are three good sources of tools:

Fred Luskin, in his book “Forgive for Good,” describes a number of techniques that can be used to help you throughout forgiveness process. These include tools such as focusing on the positive, challenging old hidden beliefs, and creating new intentions that give hope.  You may check his website,

Colin Tipping in his work on “Radical Forgiveness,” provides a spiritual framework for forgiveness.  From a spiritual perspective, our challenges
happen for a reason. They happen not TO us, but FOR us, for the highest good of all concerned, and are divinely guided for our healing and spiritual growth.  You can explore this approach at the radical forgiveness website and by using
his forgiveness worksheet.

The Attractor Field Approach puts forgiveness in a broader theoretical framework Attractor Fields from quantum physics.   Kurt Ebert has defined Channels of Stress adapted from the earlier work of David Hawkins. Developer of the Attractor Field Techniques, Ebert has developed a methodology to identify the patterns that lead to stress, illness, and upset as well as tools for releasing these
patterns through self-forgiveness and disruption of the underlying neurology. The subsequent shifts in consciousness lead to greater happiness, well-being
and health.  This approach is excellent for releasing patterns that are deeply rooted. You can find help for many diseases and problems at

I do hope these resources will help you choose to forgive. 

5. Announcements

Monthly Mondays.  Come join our support group to release old blueprints and raise your consciousness. The next Monthly Monday is June 11, 7:00-9:30 P.M.  We will meet at 12131 Dorsett Road, Ste. 101, Maryland
Heights, MO. Email me for a flyer.

I will be giving a workshop “Mind, Money, and Spirit.” on Saturday, July 21, 2007, at 12131 Dorsett Road, Ste. 101. Email me for a flyer.

Warm Regards,

Dr. Alice

Resource:  Luskin, Fred. Forgive for Good.  NY: HarperCollins, 2002.

© Copyright 2007 Alice Vlietstra. 
All rights reserved.

You have my permission to forward this
newsletter to those who might be interested.

To subscribe: E-mail
and put subscribe in the subject line.
To unsubscribe: E-mail
and put unsubscribe in the subject line.



Alice G. Vlietstra, Ph.D.
12131 Dorsett Road, Ste. 220
Maryland Heights, MO  63043




Newsletter Name: 
Successful Relating

The Gift of Forgiveness

Successful Relating
Fulfillment Through Connection and Community
Alice G. Vlietstra, Ph.D. Editor

To subscribe or unsubscribe see below

April 2007

In This Issue:

1. Welcome
2. The Gift of Forgiveness
3. Peaceful Engagement
4. Three Keys to Forgiveness
5. Announcements
1. Welcome
This season, with its emphasis on renewal and growth, is a wonderful
opportunity to celebrate the "Gift of Forgiveness." We all need the gift
of forgiveness, so I would
like to take a few moments to share what it means to me and pass it on
to you.

2. The Gift of Forgiveness
Holidays are a time for family gatherings, whether it is our community
family, family
of friends, or our biological family. All too often, we have high hopes
for peace,
happiness, and joy, only to discover that a few glitches sneak in. It is
for these glitches that forgiveness is a wonderful gift.

One challenge is that as we get to know each other, we often find GREAT DIVERSITY
of personalities and opinion. No one thinks the same! How can people be so different and continue to get along?

One way to solve this problem is for one view to become dominant and for
the others to give in to it. A problem with this is that the needs of
those in power are addressed, while
the others are not heard. Often those in power enforce their concerns at
the expense of others. The consequence is oppression, depression, and
hostility. On a larger scale, it may even lead to war.

The result is a power struggle where no one really wins. By contrast, when we look at
solutions attained through the gift of forgiveness, we can have peaceful engagement,
and everybody wins.

3. Peaceful Engagement
What is peaceful engagement? Peaceful engagement happens when we look
for solutions that honor the best of ourselves and our higher values and
ideals. For any given problem, it allows all the voices to be heard
without judgment or oppression so a more inclusive solution can emerge.
It may not include discussion. It can be done by action alone.

Peaceful engagement may not lead to an immediate solution, or the
solution we want.
If there is a deep hurt or trauma, it may not lead to reconciliation.
What it allows is respect for the dignity of others, and ourselves and
helps us to understand we are all in the same human family. This is the
ultimate solution to almost any conflict.

To help you understand it, let me tell you a story.

A mother asked her son, Ken, to set the table for supper, and he
repeatedly forgot. Her
reminders were not heard. So for the next meal, she did nothing. The
family got together, sat down, and she brought out the food and put it
on the bare wood.
First, she put down the spaghetti, then added the tomato sauce on top.
This was followed by the salad, and then the dessert. The family had to
eat their meal with no plates, spoons or forks. Now Ken remembers to set
the table every time.

Notice that the mother did not excuse her son and set the table for him.
Also, she did not
yell and scream. Instead she engaged peacefully, and let him discover
his higher self, which honored the best interest of the whole.

For these kinds of solutions, we need the gift of forgiveness.

4. Three Keys to Forgiveness
I see forgiveness as releasing old patterns and blueprints, for the
purpose of renewal and growth. Three aspects of forgiveness are
especially important to me. I will introduce them in this e-newsletter.
We can explore applications of these principles in the next issues.

*Forgiveness is a free choice, --our choice.

When we have a grievance or feel we have been wronged, we can choose to
be a victim or a victor. When we are victims, we give our power to
others. when we are victors, we take our power back. This means taking
full responsibility for our own thoughts and emotions. It may take a
while. Our immediate response when wronged is often first denial, and
then anger. Anger has a useful purpose, but we do not need it forever.
If we choose to forgive, research shows we will experience less stress,
better health, smoother relationships, and greater emotional stability.
By contrast, people who blame others have a higher incidence of
illnesses such as cardiovascular disease and cancers (Luskin, 2002,
p. 78).

*Forgiveness is about a hidden pattern, not a person.

Our conflicts are rarely about the other person but about hidden beliefs
and patterns and what they mean to us. Frequently, it is subconscious.
When we get upset, especially if it really bugs us, it is rarely about
the present, but about buried emotions and beliefs from early childhood
(See earlier e-newsletter, May 2005).

Jesus' statement "Forgive them, for they know not what they do"
recognizes the deeply unconscious pattern of early beliefs. When we
recognize that the object of forgiveness is not a person, but an early
pattern, we can use it to experience compassion for others and
ourselves. By recognizing that it a block, we can release it and connect
with spirit. Instead of judging each other, we can support each other.
Our story changes and we become the heroes.

*Forgiveness gives us hope.

Forgiveness helps us honor our larger intent to better others and
ourselves. I find that people feel deeply gratified when they can use
their strengths to serve a purpose greater than themselves. The
disturbances that bother us often bring our attention to a larger social
issue, and our experience gives us the understanding and compassion to
be of service to others. It can give us an inner peace to know that we
have done our best, and to know, that in any situation, no matter how
traumatic, there is always a gift.

Enjoy your celebration and pass it on.

Warm Regards,

Dr. Alice

Resource: Luskin, Fred. "Forgiving for Good," NY: HarperCollins, 2002.

Acknowledgement: Many of my discoveries on forgiveness have come from
the Attractor Field Technique. It effectively helps you identify and
release old patterns while releasing the majesty within. The approach
is integrated within a larger developmental framework, which also helps
us see how our efforts contribute to others by raising consciousness.

5. Announcements

Monthly Mondays. Come join our support group to release old blueprints
and raise
your consciousness. The next Monthly Monday is April 9, 7:00-9:30 PM.
We will meet at 12131 Dorsett Road, Ste. 101, Maryland Heights, MO.

Life's Deeper Purpose. Find your focus, honor your strengths, and release old
blueprints. It will be held at 12131 Dorsett Road, Ste. 101, Maryland Heights, MO. A

Creating Fulfillment in Your Relationships. Discuss the unique perspectives of men and
women and appreciate both as you explore your strengths, vision and mission for a
relationship in your life. This is a four-week workshop given at the Soul Esteem
Center in Maryland Heights, MO beginning April 26. To register, Call 314-576-5506.

Copyright 2006 Alice Vlietstra. All rights reserved.

You have my permission to forward this newsletter to those
who might be interested.

To subscribe: E-mail, and put
subscribe in the subject line. To unsubscribe: e-mail, and put unsubscribe in
the subject line.

About Dr. Alice

Alice Vlietstra, Ph.D., formerly of the University of Missouri
St. Louis, was first trained as a researcher in Human Development.
This training provides the integrative developmental focus of her
work. Currently, she works as a family psychologist, coach,
and family business consultant. As a graduate of the
Authentic Happiness coaching program, she is trained
in promoting the positive. As a certified practitioner
of mind-body techniques, AFT and NET, she is also highly
skilled in understanding and releasing our blueprints
from early childhood conditioning. This combination leads
to high-powered strategies for enhancing our well being by
advancing our consciousness.

Alice Vlietstra, Ph.D.
12131 Dorsett Road, Ste. 220
Maryland Heights, MO 63043

Newsletter Name: 
Successful Relating
    Syndicate content