How to Practice Forgiveness

How to Practice Forgiveness

A new year is a good time for a new start.

And a new start is a good time for … forgiveness.

Moving on is not always easy, but finding ways to do so is crucial for mental health and happiness.

You don’t necessarily need to forget, but you will almost certainly benefit from forgiving …

via Psychology Today by Dave Smallen


  • Forgiveness benefits the forgiver, reducing the persistent anger that comes along with being harmed.
  • Forgiveness involves uncovering our own painful feelings and working to offer compassion to the person who harmed us.
  • This routine practice offers six steps to practicing the forgiveness process in response to minor harms, to strengthen your ability to forgive.

Forgiveness occurs when, following harm, we transcend impulses to strike back and instead work to alleviate our own anger, and even offer benevolence to the person who harmed us.

The person working to forgive benefits through the forgiving process, which eases the psychological pain of resentment—for it hurts to be harmed, and hurts even more to live with both that hurt and the resulting ongoing anger.

Yet it is a mentally and emotionally challenging feat to forgive—an act of strength. When we forgive, we can still hold a wrongdoer accountable, and we don’t excuse or “forget” their actions. We move beyond being haunted by the resentment of a person who wronged us, bringing ourselves to a state of greater peace, through a process that Dr. Robert Enright of the University of Wisconsin and colleagues have articulated over decades of research. Briefly, people forgive by first uncovering their feelings of anger in the wake of harm, choosing to forgive, working to extend compassion to the wrongdoer, and reflecting on their experience.

In a paper published in the journal Spirituality in Clinical Practice, I adapted these stages into a brief forgiveness practice, an exercise that you can do routinely to gain deeper experience with the process of forgiving—a means of strengthening your forgiveness muscles by forgiving minor transgressions of daily life so you are prepared for when greater injustices come your way.

A Routine Forgiveness Practice

Step 1: Identify a Minor Injustice and Discern if Forgiveness is Appropriate

Begin by identifying a recent minor harm or injustice to practice forgiving. This should be a time when you felt harmed and resentful to only a small extent, not a traumatic event.

Then consider if this is a situation that can be forgiven. Forgiveness is appropriate if you do not seek to excuse the other person for their behavior, condone their behavior, or to gain a sense of moral superiority over this person. Forgiveness is appropriate if you genuinely want to try to forgive and don’t feel like you are under an obligation to do so, nor are you putting conditions on your forgiveness, such as the wrongdoer apologizing first. If all of this checks out, then move ahead…

… keep reading the full & original article HERE