Be the change you want to see in yourself

Inspirational thoughts, ideas, quotes, and articles.


Posted by Catherine Morgan on May 11, 2007

This is a post that I did when I first began writing and blogging. Aside from my Fettuccine Alfredo recipe, this post on Forgiveness is my most read post. I think it is an important topic, and that is why I decided to re-post it…I’m also adding a few UPDATES at the end. I hope you like it.

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When we are angry at people in are life. When we aren’t talking to people in our life. When we hate people in our life. When we are doing these things, we are weakening ourselves, we are hurting ourselves, we are hating ourselves. That is because, when we don’t forgive, we are allowing our heart to be weighed down with negativity. But, we already know that. So why do we do it? Why don’t we forgive?

My theory is; that we really don’t know how to forgive. I mean, saying you “forgive” someone, isn’t really “forgiving” them, is it? What if there were actually steps you could take to forgive? Kind of a “12 step” program for forgiveness, only with less steps. See if this works for you. Because, when you forgive someone, you are pushing anger out of your heart and making more room for love to get in, and love is what really matters.

STEP ONE: WHY ARE YOU ANGRY AT THIS PERSON? You would not believe how many people are angry about something and don’t even remember why. So get a piece of paper out and write down why you are mad at this person. It may be one thing, or it may be a whole list. Just write it all down.

STEP TWO: THE GOOD THINGS. On another piece of paper write down all the good things this person has done for you over the years. (ie: If it’s your mother; she gave birth to you, that’s a pretty big one.) Did this person ever make you happy? Do anything nice for you? Make you smile or laugh? Be a good friend? Help you out of a jam? If so, write it down…all of it. This could be a long list or a short list, just make sure you make it an “honest” list.

STEP THREE: HOW DID I CONTRIBUTE TO THIS? On a third piece of paper write any way you may have contributed to the conflict. Be honest with yourself. It doesn’t help to think that you are totally without any responsibility in the situation, even if it is just a tiny bit. Write it down.

STEP FOUR: CONTEMPLATE. With all three papers in front of you, take some time to really think how important this person is to you. Are they someone you wish was still in your life? Is it someone that you could never feel good having in your life anymore. Are they family? Ex? Depending on “who” they are to you, will depend on what type of relationship you choose to have with this person after you forgive them. Remember, you are forgiving this person for yourself, not for them. So, if you think it is better for you not to see this person, then so be it. You may decide that for the sake of your children or your family it would be better to allow this person back into your life. Or, you might realize that it is better to keep your distance form this person.

What ever the case is, spend a significant amount of time thinking about it. You have probably spent a significant amount of time being angry, so a little extra time trying to figure out what is in your best interest regarding this person won’t hurt.

You may want to stay on this step for more than just a day. Maybe a week. Or more. It doesn’t matter how long you are on this step. Just put the papers in a place you can review them. You might even want to do these steps with someone else in your life. If forgiving hasn’t been your “thing”, you may have a lot of people to do this exercise with. That’s OK, don’t be hard on yourself, just take the time and do the work, and in the end you are the one that will benefit.

When you are ready continue to Step Five. No rush.

STEP FIVE: FORGIVE. Forgiving doesn’t mean “forgetting”, a lot of people don’t quite understand that. We are not computers, we can’t just hit the delete button and erase our past history. Although, at times many of us wish we could, (me included). We are talking about forgiveness, so you can forgive and let the anger go (for your own sake and sanity), remembering is o.k. though. Remembering might even prove to be quite helpful. You may find yourself in a similar situation one day, and remembering might help you choose your reaction differently than you had before this happened. This is where the saying “learn from you mistakes” came from. It’s not a judgment on your behavior, just a reminder that you handled something one way and it didn’t turn out quite the way your would have wanted. So the next time, you might do something much differently based on your increased understanding.

So, to get back to the final step, STEP FIVE. Now that you have all the information in front of you, and you have given it all quite a bit of thought, and figured out what is in YOUR best interest. Now it’s time to FORGIVE. LET IT GO. LET GO OF THE ANGER. LET GO OF THE PAIN. Let go of allowing this to keep putting negative thoughts in your head. You need that room for positive, healthy, loving thoughts.

Maybe, even take some time to close your eyes and meditate on letting go of the anger and pain. If you don’t normally meditate; Just close your eyes for a few moments in a quite place. Try to let go of your thoughts for a moment. Now picture in your “minds eye” all the negative thoughts and anger leaving your head, like vapor evaporating from a pot, slowly but consistently, until there is no more to let go.

Do you feel better? If so, you did it right. You don’t even have to tell the person that you forgiven them. The important thing is that you let it go, it no longer haunts you, it no longer consumes your thoughts. At this point you can either take steps to smooth things out with the person, and start from a healthier place…Or keep your distance if you have decided that’s what is best for you. There is no right or wrong way to to do this. The right way is whatever works best for you.

If you realize you just don’t feel any better after STEP FIVE, then go back to STEP FOUR. You may just need more time, and that is OK. Remember…No pressure, this is at YOUR pace.

Once you feel confident that you have truly let go of this “in your head”, not just “in your words”. Once you realize that, rip up your paper from STEP ONE, maybe symbolically burn them, just something that helps you recognizes your accomplishment of putting this behind you. But, keep the other papers from STEPS TWO AND THREE. Just in case something comes up again with this person, and you want to go through this process again, you will still have all the more “positive” things saved.

Well, good luck. I hope this helps you let go of some of the negative feelings and thoughts that have been weighing hard on you. If these steps have helped you, please leave a comment, I would love to hear your success stories.


Also See:

Beautiful and Inspirational Quotes of Mother Teresa

A Campaign for Forgiveness Forgiveness research is a relatively new and uncharted field. Prior to 1985, only a handful of studies had been completed, and in the fourteen years since, less than sixty more. Nevertheless, social scientists have begun to quantify the power of forgiveness in a variety of arenas.

Tools For Relationships — ForgivenessForgiving is allowing another person to be human for faults, mistakes, or misdeeds. Forgetting is putting these behind you; they are no longer brought up and no longer remain a barrier to your relationship.

If You Want To Attract Love…Be a Loving Person

Quiz — How Forgiving Are You?

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. image from The Power In Forgiveness




  1. goldenferi said

    If we would all work on forgivness we would be alot healthier. Anger is very poisonous and it just isn’t worth the time. If you go through the 5 steps you can usually get to the bottom of things and forgive.

  2. “Goldenferi” — I agree…thanks for the comment.

  3. “My theory is; that we really don’t know how to forgive.”

    I forgive, because I’ve already been forgiven. It is my obligation to my creator and redeemer.

    Plus it is much easier to forgive and live and then fester and hate. Which makes it odd that we, as humans, find it so much easier to do the latter.

  4. Hi “Totaltransformation” —

    I agree…it is much easier to forgive than to carry anger and hate in your heart…it’s too bad so many don’t realize that.

    Thanks for the comment.

  5. DSvT said

    Wow… re-post it again with new add-on… Cool…

    Kinda longtime didn’t come to your site, I always learn new things from your post.

  6. Hi “DSvT” — I’m happy you liked the re-post. Don’t be a stranger.

  7. gayp said

    How do you forgive someone if they continue to mentally and emotionally hurt those that you love? I agree that the blackness of hate in your heart is terrible and consuming. Just when I accept her past deeds and forgive, a whole new episode of hurt and pain is inflicted. What can I do for myself in this mess??

  8. Hi “Gayp” — I think there is a difference between forgiveness, and keeping people in your life that cause you pain. You can forgive someone, but still choose to distance yourself from them to protect yourself from their negative or hurtful behavior. I’m not recommending this in your situation, but each of us have to look at these types of things in our own lives, and then make conscious decisions about what is best for ourselves and our families.

    I hope this helps.

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