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How to forgive | This Emotional Life

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http://www.pbs.org - Dr. Everett Worthington, a psychologist who has researched forgiveness for decades, has developed a five-step process called REACH:



R is for Recall. Recall the events and the hurt as accurately and objectively as you can.



E is for Empathize. Try to understand what happened from the point of view of the person who wronged you.



A is for the Altruistic gift of forgiveness. Recall a time that you hurt someone else and were forgiven. And offer this gift to the person who wronged you.



C is for Committing yourself to forgive publicly. Write a letter of forgiveness (whether you send it or not), write in a journal, tell a trusted friend, or, if you can, tell the person who wronged you.



H is for Holding onto forgiveness. Forgiving is not forgetting. Memories of the wrong and feelings will come up. Remind yourself that you have made a choice to forgive.



Dr. Robert Enright suggests a four-phase process in Forgiveness is a Choice:



Uncover your anger; honestly examine the unjust act and your feelings about it

Decide to forgive; be willing to turn your back on the past and look toward the future

Work on forgiveness; forgiving is a process that takes recommitment and concrete actions

Discovery and release; be open to discovering the meaning of suffering, the need for forgiveness, the fact that you are not alone, and a new purpose in life





Dr. Sonja Lyubormirsky offers additional exercises in her book The How of Happiness:



Appreciate being forgiven; reflect on a time when you were forgiven; or seek forgiveness for a wrong you have done

Imagine forgiveness; imagine what you might say to the person and how you would feel

Write a letter of forgiveness; not necessarily to send, but to write out what happened and how it affected you, what you wish the person had done, and end with a statement of understanding and forgiveness

Write the other person’s apology letter; imagine the explanation the person would give for her behavior and how she feels about the harm she has done



Sources:

Authentic Happiness, by Martin E. P. Seligman

The How of Happiness, by Sonja Lyubomirsky

Forgiving and Reconciling, by Everett Worthington

Forgiveness is a Choice, by Robert Enright

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