September | 2013 | Victor Benoun

Victor Benoun

Archives: September 2013

I saw a movie recently on one of the cable channels called An Unfinished Life. It stars Robert Redford, Morgan Freeman, Jennifer Lopez and Damian Lewis. Each character is forced to resolve issues of forgiveness. It could be forgiveness towards others, forgiveness towards forces of nature, and perhaps the most difficult; forgiveness of yourself.


This caused me to think about a situation that occurred in my life which opened some old wounds, and oozed much pain as I relived the events again. Several years ago I had a falling out with my brother. He made accusations against me and our parents that were totally false. I tried to sit with him and reason and discuss what had occurred but he refused to listen. He could only see things his way.

My parents, now in their 80’s, were very hurt by his actions. I think for the first time in my life I felt rage, something I never experienced before. I have been angry or mad, but never consumed by the wrath that I felt towards my brother for the hurt he created. Every time I thought of the conversations and the occurrences, I felt like I was reliving with graphic detail the horrors of the events that took place that broke up our family to the point where I was consumed by it.

I had to find a way to reconcile the way I felt towards my brother. It is very difficult to move forward when I felt I was stuck in the past, holding onto things that did not serve me. This conflicts every area in life: health, relationship, career, income and spiritual path.

The only way I could do this was to forgive him. I don’t know what he was going through that caused him to feel the way he did or what drove his actions. He may have had conflicts of his own he was attempting to work out and did so the only way he knew how.

I’m sure he had no idea of the times I thought of him and the feelings I experienced just as I could not possibly know how he was feeling. I believed if I could find a way to feel better I could make peace, and therefore move forward. I’ve learned this is a crucial ingredient of the process of forgiveness, the way you feel.

If you find yourself in similar circumstances, here’s what I suggest: if you have been wronged by someone or if you were the person who caused the hurt feelings, see if it is possible to sit down with them and have a discussion, and resolve whatever hostility you have towards each other. If this is not possible then go to a quiet place and have a conversation in your imagination and either forgive the person or ask for forgiveness.

It’s been several years since my brother and I have spoken, and I’m not sure if our conflict will ever be resolved. No matter what, I have forgiven him and moved on. I hope he has been able to open his heart and forgive me as well.

So often we have great goals, ideals and expectations and yet we fail to launch them. We may get so far, and then stop. Why?

I discovered a recurring theme when speaking with clients about what they feel limits them.

  • “I’m afraid of……” they may say. You can fill in the blank.
  • “I’m afraid of this”, “I’m afraid of that.”
  • “I’m afraid of starting this business.”
  • “I’m afraid to try to write a book.”
  • “I’m afraid of what people will think of me.”

Then, I ask a question to help them define it more clearly. “Are you afraid, or are you concerned?” There is a significant difference.


Fear is an important emotion that can save our life. It is a survival mechanism that lets us know if we are in danger and if we should run as fast as we can, or stand our ground and face our enemy whatever it might be. Are we about to jump from a building without a safety net, or do we see something dark and scary lurking in the shadows?

Concern on the other hand has more to do with worrying about something we are considering taking action on.

  • “What will happen if I do this or I do that?”
  • “What if I do the wrong thing or what if I don’t do anything?”
  • “Are you really afraid of starting your business or do you have concerns about it being successful?”
  • “You really want to write a book but are you concerned you won’t be able to finish it or get it published?”
  • “Is your concern that your friends or family may judge you for wanting more in your life?”

Both fear and concern can stop us in our tracks. See if you can differentiate between the two. Concern can cause anxiety and sleepless nights but so often can be resolved by asking more questions and developing a strategy by doing further homework and study.

Next time you feel stuck try to develop the question a bit more. If you are truly fearful then there may be more there than meets the eye and it is important that you know what is frightening you. On the other hand if you are truly concerned, spend a bit more time addressing the unknown areas and questions you have. You may find these can be addressed easily and assist you to accomplish your goals much faster and move past the areas where you previously were stuck.

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