Forgiveness for teens and in the workplace

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The opportunity to impact the lives and hearts of teenagers at an anti- bullying day along with numerous other volunteers in a local high school was amazing. Watching the students file into the auditorium, for opening exercises, one could sense the pain and deep needs throughout the group.

The intuitive principal and faculty of that school recognized the pain and needs of their students, and they wanted to provide programming to help them recognize that their choices and actions can have an influence in healing from and stopping or preventing further pain and bullying at home and in the school.

Several teens cautiously entered my workshop, “HURTING, HATING, HIDING AND HEALING”. Through comments and careful questions, the students described painful actions and attitudes of others that had stolen their identity, dignity, confidence and joy; filling them with anger, mistrust, fear and insecurity. Some had experienced pain inside the school, while others were suffering from a life of painful circumstances. My heart nearly broke when they asked me to pass around the soft, warm teddy bear I used as a visual aid. They each hungrily cuddled that teddy bear as if longing for something warm, safe and secure.

In my closing keynote presentation, “DROP YOUR BAGS, STEP INTO YOUR POWER”, I told the students they didn’t deserve to be bullied or hurt and that unless we each find a way to heal from the hurts we’ve experienced, we can hurt for a very long time, even for the rest of our lives, and hurting people often go on to hurt others.

Along with powerful stories of the deadly impact of bullying, I shared a Freedom Formula and 10 Forgiveness Tips to assist the students in forgiving and letting go of painful experiences. Several students and faculty commented, “I needed to hear about forgiveness today. Forgiveness is hard to do and I didn’t realize I had a choice. I didn’t know how to let go of my pain.”

As I relived the day’s events, the interactions, tears and stories along with the comments, hugs, willing participation and body language of the students, I felt satisfied that I had made a difference in the lives and hearts of those students and faculty.

While the type of pain we see in the school setting may be different than the types of difficulties we find in the workplace, the painful situations in the work environment nonetheless impact the physical health and mental wellness of individuals, and those difficulties also impact the effectiveness, person to person relationships and team cohesion in the workplace.

Visible and invisible personal, emotional, physical and mental wellness issues erode sick time, occupational health resources, working relationships, organizational effectiveness, morale and productivity, all impacting the bottom line. Heart breaking stories throughout the organization affect employers and employees alike as no one is immune to experiencing difficulties in their lives and in their work.

Programs to aid staff in coping with their problems, giving them hope in making it through their difficulty can provide important tools and strategies for dealing with their problems. Investing in the personal, mental and emotional wellness of individuals within the work environment is essential for the engagement and retention of quality staff as well as for maintaining and improving organizational effectiveness.

Annette Stanwick
International Speaker, Award-winning Author,
Freedom Facilitator and Health Care Professional


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