The Steps to Forgiveness
by Allison Mupas, MFT
"Forgiveness involves letting go and surrender of judgment and condemnation. With compassion, we can help others become aware of their divine nature and become lovers instead of haters. Most of all, we must not forget to forgive ourselves. We can give up the victim mentality and become victors instead. If we look through our spiritual eyes, we can stop judging and truly forgive. If we stop resisting life so much, we will stop feeling like a victim and creating a life of drama where we constantly need to forgive. That is so freeing!" Patty Hayes
To forgive does not mean we agree with or condone inappropriate behavior, it means we are willing to let go, move on or free ourselves from the burden of resentment. Forgiveness can be exhibited in many ways and can be accomplished with or without the offender present. Below are some steps to consider when considering forgiveness.
1) A) Journal or write about your feelings, what happened and let it all out. This your personal experience so just put it all down in whatever manner makes you feel good! B) If you're not a writer, find an objective person who can listen to you without giving their opinion unless it is asked for by you. Then talk it out. C) If you have spiritual connection to some greater power you can pray about it.
2) Look at your side of the event, disagreement, problem. How did you participate, do you have anything to "clean up". "Clean up" means taking responsibility for your part in the issues, disagreement or problem. It is often helpful to look at how you may do things differently next time, so you can learn from this experience.
3) Consider if you are even willing to forgive yet. If not I would recommend that you take some steps to work through the underlying feelings you are still carrying around, such as anger, hurt or a myriad of other emotions. If you are unwilling go back to step 1 and repeat until you feel willingness beginning to emerge.
4) Make the decision to forgive anyone involved in the situation. Don't forget yourself if you need it too. Decide if you need to say or write anything to anyone involved to get your feelings out and be heard. The person you are forgiving does not need to be willing or present for you to complete this process. You can ask an objective person to be on the receiving end if you don't feel safe or comfortable going to the person who you are upset with. You can visualize that you are speaking to that person when you are speaking to a friend or objective listener.
5) Let go! Keep in mind you are choosing to forgive, if you are holding on to a belief that the other person has to do something before you'll forgive you are choosing to remain stuck. If you find situations re-stimulating the old feelings of hurt you may need to repeat step 1.
If you need any assistance with the process of forgiveness please feel free to contact me. www.changeseeker.org 626.802.7383.
Thanks for sharing those key steps on forgiveness. I just finished watching an interview of Rubin "Hurricane" Carter on "The Hour" on iTunes and he shares how after getting out of jail for being wrongfully accused for over 20 years, he had to get rid of the bitterness, anger and hatred.
He took his new found knowledge after fighting his own case and now is helping others. Much like what I'm doing with this depression website. Forgiveness leads to helping others and passing on life!
A few notes on forgiveness...
"Forgiveness is the key to action and freedom."
"He that cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he must pass himself; for every man has need to be forgiven."
"Life is an adventure in forgiveness."
"When we forgive evil we do not excuse it, we do not tolerate it, we do not smother it. We look the evil full in the face, call it what it is, let its horror shock and stun and enrage us, and only then do we forgive it."
Lewis B. Smedes
"When you forgive, you in no way change the past - but you sure do change the future."
"Without forgiveness, there's no future."
"You will know that forgiveness has begun when you recall those who hurt you and feel the power to wish them well."
Lewis B. Smedes
"Father, forgive them for they don't know what they're doing." (What Jesus prayed when he was being killed between two thieves).