10-Step Practice to Move from Anger to Forgiveness

Grace aside, most of us cannot leapfrog from injury to forgiveness with ease. A process is necessary, and it begins by turning toward your own hurt.
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Grace aside, most of us cannot leapfrog from injury to forgiveness with ease. A process is necessary, and it begins by turning toward your own hurt.
YOGIS PRACTICING PRAYER HANDS ON A BEACH

Grace aside, most of us cannot leapfrog from injury to forgiveness with ease. A process is necessary, and it begins by turning toward your own hurt.

Step 1

In order to forgive someone and release anger, you need to begin by telling the story of how you got hurt. I suggest writing it down, making sure to include not only what happened but also how you felt about it.

Step 2

Pay attention to the feeling words in the story. Then, summon up the feelings they refer to. Try to discover and focus on the places in your body where you feel your anger, sadness, or hurt most strongly. Let yourself fully inhabit the feelings of hurt, anger, grief, or whatever else arises. Say out loud that what happened was wrong. Breathe as you do this, and remember that your aim is to feel the feelings, not to act them out.

Step 3

Recognize that the hurtful event cannot be undone. It has already happened. Neither your anger nor the other person's apology can make it go away.

Step 4

Realize that the person who has hurt you may never apologize to your satisfaction. Accept that. Notice how you feel when you accept it.

Step 5

Recognize the price you pay for holding a grudge. Is it burning a hole in your heart? Making you feel victimized? How does your grievance make you feel about yourself? How has it influenced your future expectations? Is it possible to release the anger and feel more free?

Step 6

Consider the fact that you are the only person who can change your attitude.

Step 7

Ask for help from the universe. Breathe in and out of the heart, and imagine a door in your chest wall opening to receive grace. Ask what you need to do, think, or feel in order to forgive.

Step 8

Write down any positive insights that arise from this practice.

Step 9

Practice one of the following forgiveness rituals or make up one of your own.

Ritual A

Imagine yourself in front of the person you want to forgive. Tell the person how you feel. Tell the person that you want to forgive them and give them a gift—flowers, a book, or a stone.

Ritual B

Write your grievance on a piece of paper. Light a candle and place the paper in the flame. Let it burn.

Step 10

Write down any positive insights you gain during this process. Notice and honor your noble intention to forgive. Don't expect instant results. You may have to do this several more times. But understand that the process is working inwardly on a much deeper level than the mind. Rituals go to the limbic brain, shifting the patterns held there and changing the memories of grievance to stored experiences of forgiveness.

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