Dr. Sharman’s Musings

how to forgive

How to Forgive and Accept to Live Your Best Life

“Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different, it’s accepting the past for what it was, and using this moment and this time to help yourself move forward.” – Oprah Winfrey

Accept what is

I have always loved that quote.

I think there is something so true about acceptance being a huge part of forgiveness. It means that you can see the past experience truthfully and authentically. You can see the good, the bad, the ways in which you may have been an innocent victim, and the ways in which you may have contributed to the situation.

Eventually, you can see the ways that you have grown, learned or expanded your emotional intelligence through the experience. You might also see where you may need to have better boundaries or make different choices for the future.

Take time to heal

how to forgiveOf course, initially, it’s not so easy to see this broad perspective so objectively. Most of the time – after being hurt or betrayed – we go through phases of healing. People may experience shock, then self-care/stabilization/healing, anger, grieving and then acceptance, forgiveness and letting go.

I believe Oprah’s quote embodies the end result of a fully-healed and fully-accepted past painful experience. The person has truly shifted and transformed.

Resentment, anger and fear all cause suffering. The greatest gift you can give yourself is forgiveness. Not so much for the benefit of someone who has wronged you, but so you can live a happier life free of the negativity associated with not forgiving. It also allows you to be more present in the moment full of potential rather than being stuck ruminating in the past.

Last year, I had the opportunity to attend a lecture by Dahlia Hirsch, MD on Happiness and Forgiveness. She provided ways to recognize your situation and questions to ask yourself that all lead to forgiveness.

Learn how to forgive with these 9 steps:

  1.  Recognize the behavior or angst you don’t want, from yourself or someone else.
  2.  Recognize the feelings you have about that action, fully without judgement. I felt ______. Go over the top!
  3.  Recognize the ideas that your ego holds onto that reflect in those feelings. Remember you are the meaning giver to all perceptions.
  4.  Recognize that you have had this experience before, with different people and situations, so it is not unique to this person or situation. Therefore, you don’t need them to change. You can do this work yourself. You suffer when you need something in order to forgive.
  5.  Ask if this idea is coming from fear or love. Ask if it is 100 percent true, or can you be 100 percent sure it is true.
  6.  Ask if there is any peaceful, joyful function that idea holds.
  7.  Ask how you would be and function if you didn’t hold onto that idea.
  8.  Go inside and ask to let that idea go, loosen your attachment to it, do the forgiveness exercises that help you let go.
  9.  Forgive yourself for holding onto that idea, and from acting from that idea, show grace and kindness toward self.

Sometimes it takes time and practice, but you truly can let go of the pain of the past! For your own well-being, learn how to forgive so you can gain peace, acceptance and happiness.

Dr. Sharman

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