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Many people say they struggle with wanting to forgive, but not knowing how to do it.

As we enter the holiday season, spending more time with friends and family, there may be lots of conflicting feelings that get triggered around compassion and forgiveness.

So, as my little pre-holiday gift, I offer some steps that have worked for me:

STEP 1:  Want to.

Acknowledge yourself for just wanting to forgive. That’s huge!

If you’re not sure if you really want to yet, acknowledge yourself for even entertaining the idea.  It’s a start.  Do not use this as an opportunity to start off by beating yourself up because “I’m not ready,” or “I don’t feel ready” right off the bat.  This is about forgiveness, not punishment and certainly not punishment of yourself.

STEP TWO:  Distill why you want to forgive. 

Is there some weighty baggage forgiving would allow you to put down?

What’s the upside to forgiving? Freedom? A more open heart? More energy? Feeling less drained and exhausted?

What does not forgiving prevent you from being/doing /having?

STEP THREE:  Exercise compassion for yourself.

Plain and simple:  Don’t beat yourself up.

The minute you start to criticize yourself – – thinking things like “I can’t forgive yet,” “but I SHOULD forgive,” “I’m  not doing it right” and the usual blahblahblah (all those things you say to yourself that you’d never dream of saying to a total stranger) – –  the possibility of forgiveness gets constricted.

If the process of forgiving someone else becomes an indictment of yourself, you subjugate yourself to someone else.

Not fun.  Not productive.  Cut it out . . . please.  xo

Even if that means  you don’t forgive right this minute, that’s OK.  Heck, you’ve gone this long, the world probably won’t stop turning if it takes you a little longer.  Forgiveness at the expense of your Self is forgiveness that wouldn’t stick anyway – – and may not even be forgiveness.

Go back to Step One.  Acknowledge yourself for being open to the possibility of forgiveness and take a deep breath.

STEP FOUR:  Explore compassion and empathy on a broader level..

Acknowledge the other person’s humanity.

Acknowledge your own.   When have you wanted forgiveness?  Did you receive it?

STEP FIVE:  Stuck?

Be open to all of your thoughts and feelings.

Write it out.  Perhaps you may need to acknowledge your own feelings, whether the other person does or not.  Let it be messy.  This is for your eyes and heart only.

Return to Step One:  Acknowledge yourself for being open to the possibility of forgiveness.  The world needs you. (Admit it, you’re starting to like Step One, aren’t you?)

So, go on – – get along now and have a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving.

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