By Fred Luskin, PhD —
1. Know exactly how you feel about what you did. Be able to articulate the specific wrong you have committed and the harm it caused. Tell a couple of trusted people about your experience and about your feelings.
2. Understand forgiveness. Forgiveness enables you to feel at peace even though you did things you wished you had not. You do not have to reconcile with the person you have hurt and what you did may not be OK. Still you can make peace with yourself.
3. Self forgiveness can be defined as the recognition that everyone including yourself makes mistakes, that blame and shame can be replaced by making amends and developing better ways to behave, and that your grievance story can be changed and relinquished.
4. Recognize that your primary distress is coming from the hurt feelings, thoughts and physical upset you are experiencing right now not what you did two minutes or ten years ago.
5. At the moment that you feel upset practice stress management by breathing slowly into and out of your belly while focusing on someone you love.
6. Give up demanding things from yourself or your life that did not happen. Recognize the “unenforceable rules” you have for how you should have behaved. Remind yourself that every single human being makes mistakes. Remind yourself that no one is a failure: Each of us is only someone who was unable to do something correctly at a particular place and time.
7. If you have hurt others or yourself instead of mentally replaying the hurt look for ways to sincerely apologize, make amends where possible and when necessary change your behaviors so you won?t make the same mistake again.
8. Appreciate your good points. Take time out of each day to acknowledge the kind and loving things you do.
9. Change your grievance story of failure and regret to reflect your heroic choice to learn, grow and forgive yourself.
Dr. Fred Luskin holds a Ph.D. in Counseling and Health Psychology from Stanford University. He is the Co-Director of the Stanford-Northern Ireland HOPE Project, an ongoing series of workshops and research projects that investigate the effectiveness of his forgiveness methods on the victims of political violence.Tags: grief, hope