7 Simple steps to forgive others and yourself
Whether you yearn to feel free, lose weight, be more loving or break a sugar habit, you may not be able to move forward until you forgive your loved ones, friends, yourself or even strangers who have wronged you, deliberately or unintentionally. Hanging on to grudges, anger and resentment doesn't just hurt your heart, it can significantly and negatively impact your life.
Set yourself free to be happy
As I can personally attest, when you feel forgiveness in your heart, it's easier to be happy, productive, accomplish your goals and be at peace with yourself. You see, forgiving another is really less about other people and more about being true, kind and respectful to ourselves. Likewise, humbly atoning for our transgressions against others is a way to give ourselves the esteem and value we deserve.
Not forgiving someone else and not repenting for wrongs you've committed can:
- Rob you of your power and strip you of your dignity.
- Keep you trapped in anger, indignation and resentment.
- Make you feel helpless, stuck and frustrated.
- Harm you physically or emotionally.
- Stop you from enjoying relationships or enjoying your accomplishments.
On the other hand, forgiving others or asking for forgiveness can:
- Free, heal, nurture and release you.
- Fill you with lightness, compassion and good will.
- Ennoble, empower and enliven you.
- Bring you closer to God or goodness.
- Refresh, reward and renew you.
I invite you to try out seven easy steps that spell out the word "forgive."
Face the facts
Own up to the reality that you need to forgive another person or yourself. If you don't accept that you're stuck in bitter, unforgiving quicksand, you'll never get out of your rut to live a fulfilling and enriching life.
Oust the anger
Even if you feel that the other person's offenses are real and your anger is justified, you should resolve to shed your resentment and bitterness.
Remember the offense
Recall the harms inflicted on you. Mind you, I'm not suggesting that you wallow or stew in self-pity. Instead, I'm recommending that you take some paper and recount all of your or another's transgressions. State: "I fully and freely forgive _____________ (person's name) for ______________ (list what the person did)." Your list may be long, but always make sure to "fully and freely forgive" first. Now read your list out loud several times. Then take a match to it and burn it in the sink. (This is very freeing, but please be careful not to start a fire or hurt yourself!) Repeat this process if desired.
Give the benefit of the doubt
Realize that, in most instances, the person who harmed you was probably being selfish or self-involved but was not out to hurt you. But if she or he had underlying unkind thoughts, then shower that person with compassion, kindness and empathy. Looking at these transgressors — or even yourself — with this kind of understanding can help to release you.
Imagine what forgiveness feels like
Now visualize yourself breaking free with forgiveness. Pray for forgiveness, if you wish. Then create and repeat forgiveness affirmations or mantras in front of the mirror. One such forgiveness affirmation could be: "I fully and freely forgive ______________ (person's name), and I am now released. Harmony, peace and good will reign supreme between ______________ (person's name) and me."
Value the experience
Realize that forgiveness of others or yourself can be powerful and effective — perhaps as important as eating nourishing foods, exercising and believing in yourself. Acknowledge that letting go of your acrimony, animosity and antagonism can transform and improve your life.
Approaching another to apologize completes your seven-step process and helps you to achieve a joyous, merciful frame of mind. If the person is no longer on this earth, imagine yourself humbly asking forgiveness and the other person pardoning you.
I hope that simply reading these easy seven steps to forgive can help start the process of forgiveness. I invite you to begin pardoning those folks who've affronted you. Remember, by forgiving someone, you'll free up space in your heart for more wonderful things to arrive.