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Tips on Forgiveness

The Stages of Forgiveness

Much of these tips come from a recent article from the American Psychological Association by professor Dave Smallen who is in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Wisconsin.  We certainly don't want to plagerize or copy the entire article so I'll provide a summary of some of his key findings that hopefully will help you in your process of forgiveness.  


Essentially Professor Smallen breaks down forgiveness into steps and a process.  By understanding the process you can better come the grips that forgiveness is actually possible and even beneficial to your overall well being.  


First, there is an acknowledgement of resentment and that you have been wronged.  What this means that that you first have to be comfortable with you feeling hurt and feeling resentment.  It's ok to feel what you are feeling.  


The next step is realize that you are worth going through the process of forgiveness, because it not only can be difficult but you need self-compassion.  Self-compassion the professor points out has been proven to lead to higher life satisfaction.  You are worth going through the pain of forgiving because in the end you will feel better, and you deserve to feel better.  


Next you have to make the actual decision to forgive.  This is an active decision on your part you are essentially saying that you want to and will forgive, it's an important step as you move forward.  


The next two steps are about looking at the situation through the person that hurt you and then practicing love and kindness.  This is a critical step, no matter what that other person did - it's important to see the situation through their eyes.  Maybe they were really just ignorant, or maybe they were mad, or maybe they really did just do something stupid.  It doesn't make anything better, but it does let you see that there is another person at the other side of this issue.  


You personalize the experience and realize that people make mistakes, everyone makes mistakes.  Then you can move to loving-kindness, this can be a mindfullness technique to get you into the mental framework to forgive.  You essentially are thinking about spreading love to the world, and that extends to people who might not deserve it.  


People of faith have talked about this as either charity or mercy.  


Someone doesn't give a homeless person money because they 'earned' it, but beacuse it's the charitble thing to do.  It's showing mercy.  


Just like you should be careful to what you say to others, you need to be careful what you say to yourself.  


After that, then you can reflect on your whole experience and deepen your understanding of the situation and actually forgive.  

The person in the mirror

From Dieter Uchtdorf
"When the lord requires that we forgive all men, that includes forgiving ourselves.  Sometimes, of all the people in the world, the one who is the hardest to forgive - as well as perhaps the one who is most in need of our forgiveness - is the person looking back at us in the mirror."

Your mistakes do not define you

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Once you realize you deserve better, letting go will be the best decision ever.  

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