As I was sorting through papers, I came upon a form from Frederic Luskin, Ph.D. that focused on his work on forgiveness.  In the form, he listed nine steps to forgiveness which I am going to modify and present here.  I hope you find them as helpful as I did:

1.  Identify your specific feelings about the situation/person/people about which you are feeling hurt, angry, or upset.  Identify what specifically was NOT okay about that situation.

2.  Make a commitment to yourself to do what will make you feel better.  Forgiveness is for you, not for anyone else.  It is not letting another off the hook for poor behavior; it is releasing yourself from the trap of trying to hold others accountable for behaviors they choose not to own.

3.  Realize that forgiveness is not about reconciliation with the person who hurt you or condoning their actions.  Forgiveness is about finding peace and understanding that comes from releasing blame, taking things less personally, and changing the story you tell yourself about what happened.

4.  Keep perspective on the current event about which you feel hurt, NOT old hurts that can bleed into the current situation.  Focus your forgiveness on the current feelings and deal with old hurts separately.

5.  Each time you feel upset, use a stress-reduction technique such as breathwork, tapping, yoga, energywork to soothe the body’s fight-or-flight response.

6.  Release expecting things from other people that they choose not to give you.  Recognize the “unenforceable rules” you have for how others ought to behave.  Remind yourself you can focus on your health, peace and prosperity and work to achieve those.

7.  Put your energy into finding other ways to achieve your goals rather than through the experience that wounded you.  Instead of mentally replaying your hurt, seek out new ways to get what you want.

8.  Remember that a life well-lived is your best answer to a wounding situation.  Focusing on your wounded feelings just gives the person who caused the pain more power over you.  Learn to look for the love, beauty, and kindness around you.  Forgiveness is about personal power.

9.  Change your grievance story to remind youself of the heroic choice you’ve made to forgive and move forward.

In conclusion, according to Dr. Luskin, the practice of forgiveness can reduce anger, hurt, depression, and stress and can increase feelings of hope, peace, compassion, and self-confidence.  Practicing forgiveness leads to healthy relationships as well as better physical health.  It also influences our attitude which opens our hearts to kindness, beauty, and love.

Here’s wishing you the strength and foresight to forgive all that needs forgiveness and free yourself to live a happier, more productive life!