Forgiveness: 14 Steps

© 1993 Paschal Baute

1. Accept that the present situation is not a happy one for you, and that if there is to be any change, you alone must make it first. Further, that you have no direct control over the other's thinking, feeling or behavior.

2. Recognize that there are great differences in perceptions, that we are blind to how we impact others, and that we all tend to idealize ourselves.

3. Remember that you are an imperfect human being: blind to yourself & not knowing it. You are probably more self-centered than you can ever see yourself. We all are. You had some part in whatever happened. Your halo was probably off-kilter some way. The easiest thing in the world is to blame.

4. Some expression of your anger or hurt to someone may be either useful or necessary for the process to get started well. The listener does not need to be the offending person but should be one who can truly empathize yet be objective, not just agree with you, but also challenge you to reframe it!

5. Realize that forgiveness is for YOUR sake, that holding on to resentments is more hurtful to you than anyone else. It keeps you from living fully in the present--the only moment in which we can live peacefully and free of the past negatives.

6. Understand that holding a grudge can give you a secret power and sense of superiority over others. Dwelling or sucking on hurt or pain can make one feel quite "special." Many persons actually prefer holding on to resentments because of the hidden "fringe benefits" or payoffs. Examine what your possible pay-offs may be: the victim or martyr role offers diverse benefits. List some!

7. Examine whether the good points of the other person outweigh their faults even though you feel you were treated badly. Reflect upon this: "Will you feel better or become a better person by trying to improve the relationship?"

8. Comprehend that forgiving is NOT forgetting or condoning. "Because I can't forget I can't forgive" is an alibi & not true, that forgiving is simply a decision not to dwell or suck on the hurt. It is a decision that may need to be made repeatedly, for as often as necessary, "seventy times seven"..."Forgive us as we forgive..."

9. Be aware that forgiveness is, believe it or not, 100% your responsibility, and that you DO NOT really need the other person to admit that they were wrong. Waiting until they admit wrong keeps YOU stuck in the past. Many crucify themselves between two thieves of regret (or resentment) and guilt, then believe that others or the "world" has done it to them.

10. Be willing to learn whatever is helpful or necessary to leave the past to the past. There are some psychological techniques...Be willing to discover what your own hidden compulsion is. Address your own interpersonal impact, with some serious self-study.

11. For the person of some Christian belief, deep, profound hurts from a close family member may take regular, sustained prayer even for a long period of time, in order to forgive. Our wounded ego or hurt pride may not yield except through divine grace, and bringing my will into God's loving kindness. Some hurts are so deep that they require patient prayer and time to heal.

12. For the Buddhist, the remedy is the regular practice of meditation, mindfulness, letting go of attachments, the discerning that suffering is an inevitable part of human life, and the attainment of compassion for all creatures. Attachment to one's own views is seen as the source of all pain.

13. If you have the courage, seeking feedback from the other person can be an occasion for considerable increase in self-awareness, some insight and possible reconciliation. Begin by saying: "I'm sorry for my part..."

14. Regardless of whether the other person responds or changes, the final step is to keep on willing love and goodness to them, wishing the best for them.