I am presently in the throes of completing a book about forgiveness. During this process, I encountered research undertaken at Stanford University by Dr Fredric Luskin, Director of the Stanford Forgiveness Projects and his colleagues. The Forgiveness Project Resulted in a 9 Step Programme which is outlined below.
Step 1: Tap Into Your Inner Emotions
Know exactly how you feel about what happened and be able to articulate what about the situation is not OK. Then, tell a trusted couple of people about your experience.
Step 2: Forgiveness Is For You
Make a commitment to yourself to do what you have to do to feel better. Forgiveness is for you and not for anyone else.
Step 3: Forgiveness Not Reconciliation
Forgiveness does not necessarily mean reconciliation with the person that hurt you, or condoning of their action. What you are after is to find peace. Forgiveness can be defined as the “peace and understanding that come from blaming that which has hurt you less, taking the life experience less personally, and changing your grievance story.”
Step 4: What’s Hurting You?
Get the right perspective on what is happening. Recognize that your primary distress is coming from the hurt feelings, thoughts and physical upset you are suffering now, not what offended you or hurt you two minutes – or ten years – ago. Forgiveness helps to heal those hurt feelings.
Step 5: Stress Management Techniques
At the moment you feel upset practice a simple stress management technique to soothe your body’s flight or fight response. e.g. Concentrate on inhaling deep breaths and holding for a count of 2 before exhaling slowly.
Step 6: Take Control
Give up expecting things from other people, or your life, that they do not choose to give you. Recognize the “unenforceable rules” you have for your health or how you or other people must behave. Remind yourself that you can hope for health, love, peace and prosperity and work hard to get them.
Step 7: Stop Hitting The Rewind Button
Put your energy into looking for another way to get your positive goals met than through the experience that has hurt you. Instead of mentally replaying your hurt seek out new ways to get what you want.
Step 8: Success Is The Greatest Form Of Revenge
Remember that a life well lived is your best revenge. Instead of focusing on your wounded feelings, and thereby giving the person who caused you pain power over you, learn to look for the love, beauty and kindness around you. Forgiveness is about personal power.
Step 9: You Are A Hero
Amend your grievance story to remind you of the heroic choice to forgive.
Other books by Dr Fred Luskin include: