Five steps for granting the gift of forgiveness (R. Klimes)
A. Acknowledge the anger and hurt caused by the clearly identified specific offenses.
B. Bar revenge and any thought of inflicting harm as repayment or punishment to the
C. Consider the offender’s perspective. Try to understand his/her attitude and behaviour.
D. Decide to accept the hurt without unloading it on the offender. Passing it back and forth magnifies it.
E. Extend compassion and good will to the offender. That releases the offended from the
Four stages of forgiveness (Enright & Fitzgibbons)
Gaining insight into whether, and how, the injustice and subsequent injury have
compromised his or her life. Confronting anger and shame. Becoming aware of
potential emotional exhaustion. Becoming aware of cognitive preoccupation.
Confronting the possibility that the transgression could lead to permanent change for
them. Discovering how the transgression changed their view of the world.
Gaining an accurate understanding of what forgiveness is, and making a decision to
commit to forgiving on the basis of this understanding
Gaining a deeper understanding of the offender and beginning to view the offender in a
new light (reframing), resulting in positive change in affect about the offender, about the
self, and about the relationship. Showing empathy and compassion. Bearing the pain.
Giving the moral gift of forgiveness.
Finding meaning in the suffering (post-suffering growth). Consideration of times when
we have needed other’s forgiveness. Knowing that we’re not alone. Becoming aware that
forgiveness allows us to feel more connected with others and to experience decreased
Forgiveness – Self and Other
We all make mistakes. This is because every thought and action is the product of a
universe of invisible causes stretching back through time and outward across the planet.
For example, I have inherited my temperament from my parents and grandparents, and
my actions are shaped by untold, interacting elements of my environment—climate,
people, diet, culture, current events. Therefore, I have limited knowledge and control
over precisely what I say and do from one moment to the next.
When we make a mistake, it’s natural to feel remorse. Remorse is a useful emotion that
alerts us to a mistake. However, when we resist the experience of remorse, perhaps
because we’re embarrassed, then remorse may turn into guilt, rumination, defensiveness, and reprisal. A healthy response to our own mistakes is self-forgiveness.
There are 4 steps:
1. Open to the natural pain of remorse.
2. Recognize that it’s only human to make mistakes, and try to understand some
factors leading to your mistake.
3. Offer forgiveness to yourself, perhaps by saying “May I forgive myself for what I
have done, wittingly or unwittingly, to have caused [this person] harm.”
4. Resolve not to repeat the same mistake.
Why forgive others?
Because it’s often the best thing we can do for ourselves.
Forgiveness is a way of letting go of pain. When we forgive others, we release the pain of
anger and bitterness, but we can only forgive others after we have validated our own pain and learned to comfort ourselves.
Here are the steps:
1. Open to the pain that another person caused you.
2. Offer yourself compassion for how you have suffered, perhaps by saying: “May I
be safe. May I be peaceful. May I be healthy. May I be free from suffering.”
3. Try to understand the forces that made this person act badly, or that shaped his or
her personality (e.g., financial stress, difficult childhood, low self-esteem, cultural
4. Offer forgiveness to the other person, perhaps by saying: “May I forgive you for
what you have done, wittingly or unwittingly