Sunday, 5 August 2018

Forgiveness - steps to forgiveness

Forgiveness is about putting aside old differences, moving beyond past grievances and starting afresh.

Psychologist Bob Enright pioneered the study of forgiveness. He believes that true forgiveness is the offering of empathy, compassion and understanding (towards the person who has hurt you).

Research has shown that forgiveness is linked to positive outcomes such as reduced anxiety and depression. Holding on to feelings of anger and resentment can be stressful and when we are able to let this go, our muscles relax, anxiety levels decrease, and we have more energy to focus on the more positive aspects of our lives. Forgiveness can be especially relevant in relationships, where things like betrayal and resentment can often occur.

Psychologists have developed a 20-step system to move people through the phases of forgiveness, however there are also self-directed steps that can be taken to get there:

1. Write it down

Let it all out. Why are you upset and who are you upset with? Get all your negative emotions down on paper and try to pin-point exactly what it is that you can't forgive.

2. Put yourself in the other person's shoes

Practising empathy can be very healing. Have a think about potential reasons for this person acting in the way they did and you may even find yourself feeling compassionate towards them.

3. Wish them well

This part takes a great deal of strength. Visualise a gift that you could offer to the person that has wronged you and let go of any hurtful feelings that may still be there. If you feel ready, extending kindness and goodwill in person towards them is a huge step towards forgiveness. If not, wishing them well - even in your head - can still be beneficial.

4. Remember that you deserve happiness

Forgiveness is often a two-way street and sometimes we can place a level of blame on ourselves, as well as dragging around anger and sadness. Remember, everyone deserves happiness. Be kind to yourself and show yourself the same forgiveness that you would like to be able to show another.

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