7 Steps for Forgiveness and Letting Go of Anger and Hurt

Just recently, I’ve had the amazing opportunity to review Kristin Robertson’s e-book “A Forgiveness Journal” wherein she talks about her journey from anger to forgiveness in the face of “betrayals and abandonment”.

And how forgiveness changed her life for the better, as it can yours.

I was particularly struck by “Forgiveness is like letting yourself out of a prison”.

Indeed, when you can’t forgive someone, guess who suffers? Often, the other person’s moved on, while days, months and sometime, even years later, you’re still carrying the burden.

Sound familiar at all? This was definitely true for me till a few years ago!

Another point she makes is that holding grudges can also make you physically sick.

I’m thinking back to one of my mentors and how she developed (and subsequently cured herself of) breast cancer TWICE in her life.

Each time, it was the result of anger and unexpressed feelings she harbored around the 2 main men in her life (death of her brother and the end of a major love relationship) and forgiveness / self healing played a big part in her recovery.

So WHY forgive and how can one get to the point of peace? The main points (and challenges) have been described early on:

  • Forgiveness is not an easy path to choose
  • You develop the ability to forgive at your own pace
  • Forgiveness is a decision and a process (you can CHOOSE to forgive – sense the freedom in that?)
  • The cost of not forgiving is compromised health, unhappiness, and an attachment to the past
  • The path to happiness is forgiveness (Boy, can I ever relate to this one! The hardest part for me has been letting go of my righteous anger in the past. And the subconscious desire to play victim.. )

This isn’t just another book on forgiveness; it’s a 7 step process using exercises and journaling  to help you work through this healing process.

1) Identify Your Feelings

What are you really feeling? Anger is the expression of other feelings like betrayal, abandonment, fear, frustration, resentment, guilt, anxiety, unworthiness etc that lie beneath. A sign that your basic needs like integrity, safety, security, love and acceptance are not being met. Acknowledge these feelings.

2) Talk it Out

– Next, you need to talk about these feelings to help process them (there’s an exercise in the journal you can use to share your story). The best part? She advocates sharing your story no more than three times, after that it’s time to move on. Excellent advice borrowed from Native American traditions.

3) Change Your Viewpoint

– Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. In some cases this may be extremely hard so a lot of patience and time may be required. Look at any part you may have played in the situation and be watchful of mind self-pity, anger, revenge, and victim thinking.

4) Gain Perspective

– This step is especially helpful to those who need to forgive themselves for past actions that they regret. At this stage of the process, the heart chakra represents the transition from ego-based energy centers in the human body to spirit-based energy centers.

5) Let Go

– You might be clinging to several reasons not to let go. For example, perhaps you are receiving sympathy from others when you talk about your pain or have tied your self-image and self-worth to being the victim in your grievance story. In other words, what are the payoffs keeping you stuck?

Reminds me of a story my dad told me about 2 monks who’d taken the vow of celibacy and were at a river bank when they saw a young woman struggling to cross.

Without a word, one of the monks lifted her in his arms and crossed the river, putting her down on the other side. The 2nd monk was silent for the next 5 miles and then couldn’t stop himself any longer.

“Why did you touch her?!”, he cried out. “We’re not supposed to look at or touch women!”. Said the 1st monk “My friend, I put her down 5 miles ago, you’re the one who is still carrying her in your mind..”

6) Take Action

– The previous step was about clearing the energy around your hurt and anger. This next step is about deciding if any action needs to be taken – eg: a letter to be written, talk to be had. Whatever you feel is needed to truly let go and move on.

7) Bless the Other

– Possibly the hardest of all. You may be thinking “I’m no Mother Teresa, I can forgive but I can’t wish them well”. And yet, you can. One day. If you choose.

Completing this step will give you the biggest gift you could get – freedom and peace of mind. The book ends with a healing prayer of peace and more exercises to help you process your feelings.