I think that it's important to have some self-awareness in your relationships so that you can manage your own state. You have to pay attention to your emotional and physiological arousal level and your point of view (thoughts, feelings , emotions). I think these sorts of techniques are good.
I don't think you need a regimen or step by step technique, however. Whether or not you use them depends on your preferences. Personally, I will notice when my state of arousal and (most important, really) when loops are getting established. You know, the she does that which makes me do this which makes her do more of that thing.
When that happens, I will realize what is going on, and try to reconnect with my feelings of love for the other person and focus on the fact that I want a good relationship. I'll then physically do whatever I can to influence my state. Change my breathing, posture, etc.
It's not a set of steps or a conditioned response. Rather, it's a conscious response to a conditioned response.
The forgiveness issue is a pretty hairy one, I think. Is forgiveness *really* necessary for "complete" healing? It "complete" healing possible? Are we every really completely healthy? Or is it by virtue of being alive that we shift along a sliding scale?
In my experience, forgiveness helps an awful lot. Tons of stuff can just wash away in an instant. I mean *years* of animosity and crap can just melt away. The trouble is, I don't think that I or anyone else consciously defines what allows forgiveness to take place. You can decide to forgive someone cognitively, but that decision probably won't have much depth (in my experience).
Forgiveness occurs when certain conditions are met that allow it to occur. It's not something that someone consciously sets. Sometimes these conditions can be modified through discourse, but they're usually recalcitrant and not subject to verbal persuasion.
I was angry for years at someone very close to me. Whenever we'd talk about touchy subjects, she would fight tooth and nail to deny any guilt in the matter, or even any form of cause for my suffering.
After a lot of work in therapy, I was able to start to have more meaningful conversations with her. At one point we were talking about a very touchy issue, and I simply said quietly, "You know, at that point in my life, when I was very vulnerable, you did x to me." And she said, "You know, I don't remember doing that... but if you say I did, then I must have. And I am sorry, because that is awful."
She then started to cry. And it was as if a terrible burden was lifted.... not just for that one thing, but tons of other issues. She finally took responsibility. My forgiveness just happened at that moment, I couldn't help it. I took her hand and said, "It's ok. You're human, I know I acted like a real jerk, too, at that time, and I am sorry for giving you so much pain."
I see this kind of thing a lot. It's very hard to forgive someone, really, when they are in a state of denial, when they won't take responsibility for what they have done, when they won't see your vulnerability or humanity... when they objectify or ignore you.
I don't know how, honestly, to really forgive someone who refuses to see the hurt they've caused me when they've done me wrong. So long as they see it, see my personhood and vulnerability, and care... then it's easy for forgive.
Maybe it's possible to forgive people on a deep level who don't give a damn. I don't know how. Maybe it's my arrogance? I don't know. Maybe humility would help? But I view myself of a person of worth, a person who deserves to be respected. If I harm another for no good reason, and they harm me back, then I can concede that I deserved it. I will not harbor ill will if the punishment meets the crime if I have done someone wrong. But someone being abusive because they don't care.... that is very hard to just forgive.
Is that an injury on the soul? Maybe, to an extent. But can we be healthy if we do not forgive, if we just decide to let things go for our own benefit? I think that is most likely.
I think it's selfishness that prevents me from forgiving others. A pernicious self-interest that makes the person deny from harming you or ever having harmed you. It is a real blow to the soul. It's almost like you don't exist, like your feelings aren't even worthy of entering the equation or affecting the person in any way. They are so into their own desires, fears, and dramas that you're just a prop. You're not even a person.
I've seen parents treat their children like this and lovers treat their partners in the same manner. My friends who have major issues with their families usually have this sort of thing going on. The parent is in near complete denial that anything ever happened or continues to happen.
It's a really horrible form of separateness.