7 Steps to Reclaiming Your Life Through Forgiveness
By Charles Hopkins
Published 09/20/2007 | Health
The alarm goes off and through the thin slit between your eyelids, a
sliver of white daylight gets in, signaling another day has begun.
With your sore, aching body, you buckle up your lead boots, strap
on your sack of anger and resentment, and trudge laboriously into your
day. Youre weak, exhausted, and burdened with pain before the day even
This is what it feels like to carry around anger, resentment, and
emotional pain day after day. You have no energy left for things that
might bring you joy or happiness. In fact, if asked, you may not even
remember the last time you had a truly great day.
All you keep seeing in your minds eye is replay after replay of the person youre angry at, the person who wronged you.
This may be a difficult thing to hear but the only person being
hurt carrying this emotional baggage around is you. According to a
study performed at the Harvard School of Public Health, those scoring
highest on an anger scale were three times more likely to develop heart
disease over several years than those scoring lowest.
And heres another other thing you might not want to hear each
day you hold on to that emotional pain and resentment, you give the
person who wronged you control over your life. Each and every day
drains away more and more of your own personal power.
There is a way out of this soul-depleting cycle -- its forgiveness.
You probably dont want to hear that word either. But that one word carries the most incredible power of healing and growth.
If youre like many people in a state of emotional suffering, you
may confuse forgiveness with excusing the wounding behavior, or simply
forgetting about it, condoning it, or reconciling with the hurtful
Forgiveness doesnt mean any of those things.
Forgiveness is having the courage to let go of the negative
emotions you have about the person who hurt you. Researchers on
forgiveness believe you are in control of your behavior and have the
ability to make a personal choice to forgive or not.
Choosing to forgive is YOU having personal control over your own
life -- instead of giving that control over to the person who hurt you.
This does not mean the offending person is unaccountable for their
actions. The goal of forgiveness is to take you from the place of
victim to the place of improved health and greater personal power.
Youre probably saying to yourself, Yes, Id love to let go of the
heavy load Im carrying around, but forgiving is easier said than
done. Youre absolutely right forgiveness is probably one of the
most difficult things to practice.
Here are seven steps you can follow to help you in your process of
forgiving and lead you into reclaiming your life. (You can find more
steps at The Worldwide Forgiveness Alliance, a non-profit, tax-exempt
educational foundation dedicated to evoking the healing power of
1. In order to start the process of forgiveness, you must first
acknowledge your anger, fear, resentment, and grief. Your feelings are
justified and should not be minimized.
2. Recognize that to dwell on your negative feelings will do serious damage your physical and emotional health.
3. Understand that forgiveness does not condone the behavior that has brought you pain nor does it allow you to be abused.
4. Accept that you are responsible for your own feelings and it is up to you to heal your pain.
5. Make a choice to release the anger, sadness, grief, and fear your feeling by seeking appropriate professional help.
6. Make the decision to forgive the person who harmed you.
7. Remember you are forgiving the other person in order to free
yourself from unnecessary pain and suffering not the other way
Practicing these steps can help you reduce anger, hurt, depression
and stress and lead you on the path toward physical and emotional
strength and well-being.
Remember forgiveness is for you - for your health, overall wellness, and quality of life. Its not for the offending person.
You, and only you, can make the choice to take off the lead boots,
un-strap the heavy sack filled with anger, resentment, and pain and
start living your life free of the past.