Positive Psychology

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is sometimes understood as letting someone away with something that just isn't right but real forgiveness does not condone what they other person did but it finds an explanation that enables the forgiver to move on with their life rather than carrying a grudge and ill feeling which is eating away at their happiness and well-being.

There are a number of methods of forgiveness but most of them would agree with the following steps:

While we might prefer to brush the whole experience under the carpet or think ourselves 'bigger' it is only when we try to relive and describe the situation that we get in touch with the emotional side that is affecting us at the core level of our being. It can be good to write down the situation and if possible read it out to someone else that you have invited to be part of this process.

Next step is to try to put ourselves in the other person shoes, or imagine ourselves to be a close one defending this person. It does not mean defending the action but rather finding an explanation how it could have happened. The event might have triggered some deep fear within them, they might have been overly stressed or bullied themselves and thus have lost control of what is caring and respectful behaviour. Again it is good to write this down and read it out (or tell this) to your 'partner' in forgiveness in order to lend reality to the process. It does not mean that it is ok what the other person did but it means that you find an acceptable explanation.

This of course is where generosity is required in forgiving and letting go. Perhaps remembering that we sometimes need forgiveness from others can help us realise that it is a great person who can forgive offences and hurts. Gandhi, Mandella and other non-violent activists can be great examples to us. This is an act of kindness and altruism which makes the forgiver a special kind of person.

By writing a letter of forgiveness to the other person (which you may never show them) and read it out to someone trusted in this process you re-affirm the commitment to forgive and let go. This can be a heroic deed but also a liberating experience which sets you free to love other people more and better. In a way you are living Mother Teresa's Prayer.

Whenever you are reminded of the hurt which you received you might need to remember the gift of forgiveness which you have extented to that person and situation thus freeing yourself from being re-victimised by your feelings. It does not always mean that you do not take action to improve a situation or a relationship but it means that you handle it with respect and genuine kindness rather than with aggression, depression or spiteful behaviour.

Go on, give yourself the gift of forgiveness not just for yourself but for everyone and everything in your life which is hurting and making you feel less of a human being.

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