by Dr. Dale V. Atkins, October 2007
Do you believe every individual deserves a second chance? There is value in second chances, and it is worthwhile to consider what we can do when we get them.
We do not have the right to judge others, and with this in mind everyone deserves a second chance. Second chances are about having faith in the ability to make changes in those who want the second chance as well as those who are giving the second chance.
The underlying question is whether the person who gets the second chance appreciates having the opportunity to "make something right". When someone does something that warrants a second chance they often do not realize the consequences of their actions (the first time) on the other person (or people). The person who is getting a second chance needs to develop empathy. If someone does not have empathy and cannot appreciate the hurt or disappointment or loss of confidence or trust, then they are not as likely to understand the magnitude of this second chance and they may whittle it away.
Additionally, the person who is "giving" the other person a second chance has to be able to let go of the need to punish or remind them that they are on "thin ice." If you are not able to allow the past to stay in the past and give this person the love and encouragement necessary to "begin again" and make something right, then the chances for success are slim.
When an opportunity to experience a second chance arises, think about what you REALLY want. How do you think your life will be different or better if you were to have the opportunity to have a second chance? What would that feel like? Think about what you specifically need to do to make that change happen.
People need to be able to act as if they already had the second chance so they can see themselves as the person they want to be. They need to practice, through role play, how they will react if all of the circumstances remain the same and they face the same obstacles. For example, if they are dealing with their own volatile temper and their spouse does something to infuriate them, how will they use their second chance to react differently?
Can you forgive yourself or someone else? Can you attempt to understand what propelled you or them to this behavior? If you can, you may open yourself to the possibility of unseen benefits to you and the other person.
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