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How to Forgive Someone in 5 Steps

Here’s a positive and helpful approach to the prayer, time and effort it takes to find forgiveness.

How to forgive someone.

Forgiving others can be hard to do. Most of us even struggle to forgive those who are close to our heart. Author Sonja Lyubomirsky says, “Forgiveness is a strategy that takes a great deal of effort, willpower and motivation. It must be practiced.”  

When we feel as if we have been hurt, betrayed and deeply wounded, our pain is real and healing takes time. Though we know and read in Scripture, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord,” we are still driven by our anger to inflict revenge upon those who have hurt us. And too often we chose to try and forget what has happened, but this will not solve anything.

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How do we proceed? It takes lots of prayer, strategy, time and effort. Author and psychologist, Martin Seligman offers a five step process called REACH in his book, Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment. In this acrostic, he offers us a positive and helpful process:

1)  Recall: Forgiveness begins by objectively recalling the hurt you experience.

2)  Empathize: Attempt to understand the person who hurt you from their perspective. 

3)  Altruistic: Seek to rise above your anger and desire for vengeance and choose to be altruistic and forgiving.

4)  Commit: To forgive the person, try writing down a “certificate of forgiveness.”

5)  Hold: Continue to hold on to your forgiveness of the person, even when memories of the painful event recur.

Read More: For a Healthy Heart, Forgive

These steps are worth taking and based on research they have worked for many. 

Lord, lead me through the process of forgiveness, and give me the courage to do so. 

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