11/11/2014 01:12 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Gift of Choice


Fred Luskin, Ph.D., is the director of the Stanford University Forgiveness Projects, a senior consultant in health promotion at Stanford University, and a professor at the Institute for Transpersonal Psychology, as well as an affiliate faculty member of the Greater Good Science Center. I have never met Fred Luskin, yet he has changed my life for the better.

Whether via videos, articles, or his books, all of which can be found online, the opportunity exists to be exposed to Dr. Luskin's depth of knowledge regarding forgiveness, vulnerability, generosity, overcoming pain and grief, and making choices. I think his greatest wisdom lies in the last of this list: making choices.

We are hurt by a loved one; we then have a choice. Are we going to focus on what went wrong, what was done, or who said what? Or are we going to work toward a place where we can think rationally and decide how we should proceed?

Is it a major life event that will never allow a close relationship to resume, or is it something that can be resolved in some way so moving forward is an option? What will you choose to do?

Step 1: Wait until you find yourself calm. Then ask yourself some questions.

  • Can you still open your heart to this person, and see the root, cause, or reason for what took place?
  • If remaining in the relationship is an option, what steps need to be taken to reduce the pain and hurt until finding a way to move forward together?
  • If staying in the relationship is not an option, how will you choose to structure your life so that you can release the anger or pain, and create a healthy, safe existence for yourself?
  • Would a moderate, but carefully distanced, relationship be the best choice for you?

These are broad questions, each requiring multiple steps to find the right answers that can be supplied by no one you. Responses to any of these questions will require very personal choices, along with an enormous amount of introspection and soul-searching.

None of us are perfect people. We sometimes leave the socks on the floor, forget to close closet doors, and might even find our bank accounts overdrawn on occasion. Those are what I refer to as the low-level issues. For those, it's not too difficult to think, "Yes, this is annoying beyond words. But I can also list the many times I have done the same, or similar, and he still came home to me. He still loves me." Those can be easy to move past.

Abuse of any kind. Infidelity. Deceit. For me, those are the lines in the sand that cannot be crossed. For me, I cannot love you if I do not trust that what you say is true. Actually, if I don't trust you or consider you a person of integrity, I can't even work for you without making myself sick to my stomach!

But, this isn't about me. What about you? What are your lines in the sand? Where is your point of no return, and how will you decide how to move forward if the situation comes to be?

That, my friends, is the question you need to be ready to answer in case... just in case... something you least expect comes your way.

Just remember:

You are important and you are special.
You are the only you in the entire world, and you matter.
You never need to settle for less than what you really want. Your pot of gold is there, waiting just for you.

Go find it. And be happy.

Dr. Wolbe can be reached via her website at