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Mental Health

How to Forgive: 8 Steps to Letting It Go

I stumbled on this list in one of my favorite books, Lists to Live By, compiled by Alice Gray, Steve Stephens, and John Van Diest.  It is a list that I think everyone out there can benefit from, whether right now or down the line.  It has helped me, and I hope it can help you, as well.

While not related to physical health, it does offer a path to help our emotional health.  I believe that our emotional well-being affects us physically, so the more you are able to sort through the issues in your life and focus what's important, true health can begin.  I hope this list speaks to you as much as it has spoken to me.

How to Forgive and Forget  
By Lewis B. Smedes from his book "Forgive and Forget"

"To forgive another is the greatest favor you can do-for yourself."

1.  Take the initiative.  You don't have to wait for the other person to apologize and you can forgive without even being asked for it. In my life, I have seen that this always does not happen.  Grant forgiveness without it being sought.

2.  If the forgiven person wants to reenter your life, it is fair to demand truthfulness.  You know, to forgive does not mean that you take a "stupid pill" and forget all that has been done.  Maya Angelou has a quote that has always stuck with me.  "When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time".  You do not have to allow them back  into your life.  But if you are willing of open the door to them, even a crack, make sure the person understands how much you have been hurt and expect a sincere promise that they will not do it again.

3.  Be patient.  If the hurt is deep, you cannot forgive in a single moment.  It is a process so let the process happen.

4.  Forgive "retail" not "wholesale".  It is impossible to forgive  someone for being a bad person.  Instead, focus on the particular act that hurt you.

5.  Don't expect too much.  As mentioned before, you do not have to renew a once-close relationship if you do not want to.  You can forgive and then move on.

6.  Discard your self-righteousness.  Do not make yourself into a "saint".  You will need forgiveness in the  future, so get off your high-horse and humbly forgive.

7.  Separate your anger from hate.  Face your emotions and accept them as natural.  Discuss them with someone you trust.

8.  Forgive yourself.  Sometimes this is hard to do.  Candor is critical.  Admit your fault, give-up your drive to be perfect, and be specific about what is bothering you.  You did wrong...but you are not.

Always remember that forgiveness is more for yourself than for the other person.  You may not realize it, but holding onto  a grudge truly does affect your well-being.  Stop carrying around that elephant on your back and free yourself up.  You will live a healthier, happier, and more fulfilled life than you ever could have imagined!


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