Self / Forgiveness can help us release negative feelings that can hold us back and negatively impact our well-being over time. When struggling with painful, guilty, angry, or unhappy feelings related to a past event, writing a letter of forgiveness is a creative way to practice both self-expression, self-kindness, and growth. This allows us to begin reducing or eliminating the hurt we feel while developing a more compassionate relationship with ourselves.
The forgiveness letter has 7 parts, and may not all be completed in a single session or single letter.
- Acknowledge the hurt. Who is hurt, yourself or others? Why was the hurting done? What is the context of the situation, and how long ago did this happen?
- Consider how the hurt and pain has affected you. The word “consider” is key here because it involves thinking before making a decision. The forgiveness is for your benefit. Can you sympathize or understand why you or the other person did what they did?
- How has the pain changed you? How detrimental was the person’s mistake to your life or someone else?
- Accept that you cannot change the past. No matter how much you wish this pain could be reversed, it’s time to admit to yourself that your anger toward yourself or another person won’t redeem what has been done. It is during this step that you must thoughtfully begin to consider whether or not you want to forgive.
- If you get stuck here, check in with me about an exercise in Radical Acceptance.
- Determine whether or not you will forgive. This is when the forgiveness process will either begin or end. This decision should not be made lightly, as it will determine the future of your relationship with yourself or other person.
- Repair the relationship with yourself or the other person who wronged you. Before any act of forgiveness or reconciliation, rebuild the connection you used to have internally or with this person.
In most cases, you will be the instigator of this repair, but if you have thoughtfully engaged in the previous 4 steps, then there is a higher chance of success.
Note that you are repairing the relationship, not restoring it. It will likely take more time for the relationship to return to normal, whatever that may look like to you. Acts of repairing can include kind words, simple gestures or even gifts.
- Learn what forgiveness means to you. Up until now, you’ve probably thought that forgiveness is more for their benefit, not yours.
But once the relationship is on the path to restoration, and you’ve given yourself time to accept the reality of the past, it’s clear that forgiveness is a way for you to find closure. Closure that means something.
- Forgive yourself or the person who wronged you. In some cases, this will be silent.
You may be compelled to verbally forgive the person, even if you do not expect a kind response, but if you have followed through on the previous steps, then their reaction won’t really matter. What will matter is that you have found a way to let go and move on.
Have any thoughts, questions, suggestions, or comments on this article? Wondering how to this can be applied, modified, or adapted to your polyamorous, swinging, kink/ BDSM, or otherwise interesting relationship? Feel free to reach out to me here.