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I've learned to lighten my emotional load--I'm still working on my backpack.

Nine Steps to Forgiveness
from Forgive for Good
by Dr. Frederic Luskin

  1. Know exactly how you feel about what happened and be able to articulate what about the situation is not OK. Then, tell a trusted couple of people about your experience.

  2. Make a commitment to yourself to do what you have to do to feel better. Forgiveness is for you and not for anyone else. 

  3. Forgiveness does not necessarily mean reconciliation with the person that upset you, or condoning of their action. What you are after is to find peace. Forgiveness can be defined as the “peace and understanding that come from blaming that which has hurt you less, taking the life experience less personally, and changing your grievance story.” 

  4. Get the right perspective on what is happening. Recognize that your primary distress is coming from the hurt feelings, thoughts and physical upset you are suffering now, not what offended you or hurt you two minutes--or ten years--ago. 

For the rest of the nine steps, see Dr. Luskin's site: www.learningtoforgive.com

On the Road to Forgiveness

Everyone knows packing lightly for a journey promotes easier, happier travels. Consider, however, the very real weight of your emotional baggage. Surely unresolved conflicts, grudges and disappointments can be as much a burden as the heaviest suitcase.

Forgiveness is a travel skill as necessary as the ability to read a map. There are two ways to use forgiveness for travel: leaving old hurts behind in the first place, and opting not to take on new ones as you go.

Understand that what I mean by "forgiveness" is not accepting and allowing injustice or thoughtlessness, or excusing the offenders, but instead a gift of peace of mind that we can choose to give to ourselves.

What you can leave behind is anything which weighs on your heart, anything that separates you from fully experiencing the present moment. This can include grudges you harbor toward family or friends, or situations for which you blame yourself. Freedom from these conditions releases you to set off lightly down a clean new path.

Once you’re on the road, inevitably things won’t always proceed as planned. Practicing forgiveness during your journey allows you to move beyond blame and recrimination, to deal clearly with the situation at hand. The result is grace and flexibility in the face of inclement weather, lost luggage and late trains.

An excellent place to learn about developing the skill of forgiveness is Dr. Frederic Luskin’s book, Forgive for Good. Luskin’s research shows conclusively that learning how to forgive improves the quality of virtually every area of one’s life (including reducing anger, depression and stress) leading to increased optimism, hope and self confidence. The book contains simple, effective techniques that are easy to use.

Beyond its usefulness as a travel skill, I believe that perpetuating an understanding of the nature of forgiveness and how it is accomplished creates a powerful opportunity to move the world in the direction of true and lasting peace.

That’s why I’m acting as an emissary for the Worldwide Forgiveness Alliance in support of the creation and expansion of the first global holiday: International Forgiveness Day, celebrated the first Sunday in August.

Learning to forgive has added tremendously to my own quality of life and my relationships. I know I’ll get great mileage out of this practice on the unpredictable road ahead.

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