Now that we have the definition of “Forgive”, let’s look at how we carry out forgiveness and gain a better understanding of what it is and isn’t.
Forgiveness is: The process of breaking the attachment of negative emotions to a person or situation. This results in the relief of stress, anger, pain, negative thoughts, and negative self-talk.
Forgiveness is not: Condoning the other person’s behavior, repressing and denying your feelings, or forgetting that the event took place.
Step 1: Accept and Acknowledge
This involves accepting that you have been hurt and acknowledging that this event took place. Don’t downplay it. You can find the most benefit out of this part of the process when you refrain from isolation. Utilize your supports (someone you trust) and talk about the hurt. Don’t make excuses for your emotions, just let them out. Make your supports very aware that you are not looking for advice, you are just venting.
Step 2: Reflect and Define
This involves looking back on the event that occurred and the particular misdeed that hurt you, aka “The Hook”. What specifically offended you the most? Once that has been identified, ask yourself these questions:
1-What do you want this pain to turn into?
2-What do you want to learn from this?
3-What part of this event can you take responsibility for?
4-What part of the other person’s behavior can you see from their point of you? (even if it is the smallest connection)
Step 3: Dull the Hook and Break the Cycle
This involves utilizing self-soothing and positive cognitive restructuring. This will help minimize the anger or hurt that is holding you back from applying forgiveness. Here are some helpful techniques:
1-Prayer and Meditation
2-Make a list of things for which you are grateful.
3-Make a list of positive affirmations, mantras, or bible verses to recite out loud to yourself daily.
4-Listen to, watch, or read things that are encouraging and motivating.
5-Start thinking about your future past this hurt. What things would you want to do or be able to do if you weren’t holding onto this pain?
6-Find a way to apply humor to the situation
Step 4:Renounce, Commit, Repeat
This involves being mindful that the anger and resentment can pop back up. Commit to the techniques that have been most useful for you in calming down and changing your mood. Commit to the process of forgiveness for your benefit not the other person. Renounce the anger and resentment by finding a reason why forgiveness is for you and how it improves your life. Repeat these steps if another situation arises where you have a challenge with forgiveness. Make sure to teach these steps to someone else and practice them before any future hurts get the chance to fester.
Know that whether you are trying to forgive someone else or yourself, this act and process has more than just emotional and psychological benefits. The medical benefits include improvement in your immune system-the body’s defense to fight off disease and illness; reduction in stress hormones like Cortisol; improvement in blood pressure; and reduced risk of heart issues. Think of forgiveness as one of your self-care tools. Utilize it generously!
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