What are the steps to forgiveness? There is an event or experience you went through or that someone else went through and it weighs on you. You might feel a profound sense of injustice or you may be deeply angered or saddened by it what happened. Your feelings about it stay with you, like an invisible backpack – loaded with rocks. You can feel the corrosion this energy is causing you on the inside. You may feel overwhelmed with all the feelings you have around this issue. You begin to die slowly from the inside as you hold on to our resentments and your bitterness. You have long since lost your sense of inner peace and want it back. You know about forgiveness. You have come to the point where you want to forgive, but maybe you’re just not sure where to begin the whole process. The six steps to forgiveness are easier and simpler than you may think, especially given how difficult it may seem to you to forgive.
1) The first step to forgiveness is becoming aware that you have an issue that you want to resolve. You become present to what is coming up for you in the moment. You see that you are holding onto the story of what happened and your feelings about it. You notice that you have been ruminating about this past event. You have a strong attachment to this and you just can’t seem to shake it. Perhaps you have come to the point where you have walked around with this experience in your mind for so long that you have long since grown weary of it. You may desire to put the energy you are using to allow the event to live inside of us to a different use – like putting that energy into creating something new in the present. Your awareness of your dilemma is the beginning point on the path of forgiveness.
2) The second step to forgiveness is self-honesty. Now that you have become present to your issue, admit how you feel about it. Get honest with yourself. You may have fooled yourself in the past by not allowing yourself to really feel all that you are experiencing around the situation you want to forgive. In this second step, you gently, firmly, and lovingly open yourself to all you are feeling and the narrative running in your mind about it.
3) The third step to forgiveness is you making the decision to make a change. Once you have the awareness that you are caught in a web of resentment, you make the commitment to find your way out of it. This is key step because you have taken a direct and positive action towards relieving your suffering.
4) The fourth step to forgiveness is your willingness to begin the process of forgiveness. You are making the choice to release what you are carrying about this experience. You are making the choice to no longer be a slave to the past. Willingness is the bridge between our awareness and the fourth step of calling on a power greater than you to help you through the forgiveness process.
5) The fifth step to forgiveness is to call on a power greater and more loving than you to help guide to forgiveness. Clearly, up until now, you haven’t been able to forgive. By enlisting help of this magnitude, you leverage the power of your willingness. Prayer is a powerful tool. “Higher Power help me” is a prayer. It can be that simple. You can also ask someone you know who has done their own forgiveness work and ask for their guidance and suggestions. By asking for help to release the burden you carry around the offending experience, you can transcend the block of resentment and frustration you have.
6) The sixth step to forgiveness is to love yourself through the process. You might find that you are able to let go and forgive quickly once you have made your decision, become willing, and asked for help. Other times, it may take longer for you to work through the issue. Remember, we are not condoning what happened, we are releasing our attachment to what happened. Meet yourself where you are in the process. You are doing the best you can. Be at peace with yourself that you have made this commitment to your healing.
Ultimately, true forgiveness is a state where we no longer feel a physiological response to the issue we were forgiving. We feel neutral when we think about it. We have finally regained our sense of inner peace and contentment – the promise of forgiveness.