We all know the feeling. You gossiped and the person found out. You helped
yourself to something that wasn't yours (such as someone's spouse). You stole.
You lied. You read your child's diary. It never sits quite right -- you toss,
you turn in bed, you have that sinking feeling in your chest, you eat, you
drink too much, you get headaches.
Carol Orsborn, PhD, a research associate at UCLA and author of 15 books
including Nothing Left Unsaid: Words to Help You and Your Loved Ones
Through the Hardest Times and The Silver Pearl: Our Generation's
Journey to Wisdom, tells WebMD about a woman she met while writing the
By Geneen Roth
Do you secretly believe it's selfish to put yourself ahead of others? If
so, you may never stop packing on pounds.
There are some things in life you take for granted: Your children will
outlive you. No matter how tough it gets, you won't poison your spouse with
arsenic-laced toothpaste. And if you have a best friend, you will attend her
But life sometimes upsets our most basic assumptions. And although I haven't
resorted to the arsenic (yet), I did have...
Barbara, age 50, was going through a divorce and her brother was her
mainstay, talking her through lonely nights on the phone. Then she met the man
of her dreams and moved away. She got so swept up in her new life, she put her
brother on the backburner. She missed his birthday.
That's when the sleepless nights began. She was embarrassed to even call.
She knew he would be hurt -- but would he be angry? Eventually, she picked up
the phone. Yes, he was hurt, but he said he understood. She started sleeping
again -- and talking to her brother.
Orsborn surveyed 100 women in the baby boomer group for The Silver
Pearl. "These were women who were role models with a positive
attitude, whether or not they had any money," she says.
A key characteristic was their ability and willingness to clear up
unfinished business, she notes.
Stages of Life Keyed to Level of Healing
"Stage one," Orsborn says, "is the good little girl stage. No
matter what their age, women in this stage may apologize for everything, even
things they don't need to. They need to please people."
Stage two is the rebellion period. Women, Orsborn says, can rebel against
the pleasing phase and are not likely to apologize for anything! "They are
mad about everything," she says.
The third stage is wisdom, she says. "When women get beyond following
the rules and beyond reactivity, they take the best of both. This means they
have an urge to reconcile legitimate shortcomings."
In terms of health, Orsborn says, "Women at stages one and two tend to
have more stress-related disorders and anxiety."
On the flip side, a study done in 2002 by researchers from Hope College and
Virginia Commonwealth University showed that heart rate, blood pressure, sweat
levels, and facial tension decreased in victims of wrongs when they imagined
receiving an apology.
In both cases, the people were carrying "the pain of the past," as
Orsborn puts it, and then could lay it down and walk away from it.