By Terence Cole @talesfromterry
Forgiveness is talked about frequently, but it is something that many people don’t know how to do. We are often told to forgive, but never given the steps of how to forgive. I was raised in a church going family, was told that I needed to “forgive people” and “let go of offenses,” but it wasn’t until I attended a business seminar at age 24 that I learned how to forgive. However, once I actually learned how to do it, I was able to get rid of a lot of offenses that were being stored in my mind and body. I had no idea how much anger and resentment was inside of me, until I actually learned how to release it!
Lack of forgiveness may not show on the outside of a person, but it is bubbling underneath the surface, and it can produce anxiety, tension, depression, and dis-ease (disease).
Think of an offense like a hot coal. Just like an actual hot coal, if you hold onto it, then you will be burned. Some people hold onto hot coals of offense so tightly that no one else knows that they are holding them. But no matter how justified they feel they are in not letting go of offenses, as long as they continue to hold onto them, they are being hurt by them.
When I was 24 I attended my first business seminar with Dani Johnson. Dani told us that she could teach us the tools, techniques, and strategies of business success, but that we wouldn’t be able to implement them if we still had offenses against others in our hearts. These offenses would hinder our thinking and stop us from talking to people we should be talking to. I believed what she told us, but it took years for me to fully realize the power of what we were taught that day.
Forgiveness Exercise Steps
1) Forgive yourself
2) Ask for God to forgive you
3) Forgive the other person
4) Ask God to forgive the other person
The following exercise can be done in your head, but I think that saying it aloud is more effective.
1. Say, “I forgive you [your name] for being angry at [person’s name] for [specific action of the person] or [specific way the person made you feel].” Vent everything that you might be angry with yourself about related to that person.
2. After venting say, “I forgive you [your name], I bless you, and I release you.”
3. Say, “God, please forgive me for anything I have done. Please forgive me, please bless me, and please release me.”
4. Envision the person who offended you.
5. Say, “I forgive you [person’s name] for [specific action of the person] or [specific way the person made you feel].” Vent all of the rage that you are angry with the person about. Example: “I forgive you Jane for calling me stupid in front of my coworkers. What the heck were you thinking! I don’t do that mess to you!”
6. After venting say, “I forgive you [person’s name], I bless you, and I release you.”
7. Say, “God, please forgive [person’s name] for anything they have done. Please forgive them, please bless them, and please release them.”
8. You may need to do additional rounds of forgiveness for specific issues. Saying, “I forgive my girlfriend for being mean to me,” may not cut it. You may have to get specific. You might first need to say, “I forgive you for making me look stupid in front of my friends,” then later do a round with, “I forgive you for insulting the gift I gave you,” etc.
9. After doing the forgiveness exercise, you can do Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) on the problem if there is residual anger left over. Forgiveness without EFT works. EFT without forgiveness doesn’t work as well. Both together is crazy powerful!
Tip from Terence: Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) are very powerful tapping techniques (think of acupressure) that can be used along with the forgiveness exercise to gain freedom from emotional bondage. If you are not familiar with EFT tapping points, go here for more information. Tap on EFT points on your body (karate chop point on hand, collar bone point, armpit point, etc.) while doing the forgiveness exercise for added energy balancing benefit. Use two fingers on your dominant hand (pointer finger and middle finger) to tap the points on your body and opposite hand. Tap firmly, but don’t beat yourself up. The points are on both sides of the body, so tapping on either side (or both sides if you wish) is fine.
Your Path to Freedom
If you are serious about wanting to renew your life and walk in freedom, then I suggest doing what was taught to us that first seminar. Make a list of all the people who have offended you. These are the people who you need to forgive. The first person on that list should be yourself. List the people who have offended you and the specific offenses that they have done. You may notice that the people who are closest to you may have offended you the most in your life. List all of their offenses individually, and begin to forgive those offenses. Keep in mind that one event may have multiple offenses. Your list may have thirty, forty, or fifty offenses on it. That is good! The more you can write down the better. You want them all written out, so you can take the time to remove them from your spirit.
The shotgun approach may not work. You may not be able to simply say, “I forgive you [person X],” have that forgiveness exercise cover all of that person’s offenses, and be done with it. You may have to take the sniper approach and forgive specific offenses that a person did. This way you’ll be able to get rid of all of the offenses that make up an individual event, and will have more thorough emotional freedom.
I was told to make a list and systematically forgive people who have hurt me, but I didn’t realize the full importance of it until recently. The more I forgive hurts from the past, the more I realize how much I’ve been held back because of these unresolved hurts. It was one of the things that has been preventing me from flying as high as I want to fly in this life, and accomplishing everything that I know I’m built to do.
I do a lot of personal growth. But doing personal growth without having forgiven your hurts, is like driving a Ferrari with cinder blocks in the trunk. You need to dump the weight of those blocks through forgiveness, so you can drive your super-car the way it’s meant to be driven!
Tip from Terence: You can forgive anyone, even if the person is no longer alive. A person doesn’t have to be alive for resentment to be in your heart towards him or her. We aren’t necessarily offended by the person, we are offended by the memory of what that person did. Forgiving people who are no longer alive frees you from the hurt in your heart towards them, and blesses your memories of them.
I spoke about forgiveness with one of my friends recently. She had been offended by members of her family, and thought that she had forgiven them, but wasn’t sure. She talked about forgiveness with one of her friends, and her friend told her, “You’ve forgiven someone if you can fall asleep at night.” She told this to me, and I responded, “No ma’am! Some people can rob a bank and still sleep soundly at night. In fact, sometimes sleep is the only thing that gives you rest from the turmoil that’s happening inside.”
I then told her that you know you have forgiven someone when you can speak about the offending event without heat rise up inside of you. If you can’t speak about an event calmly, then offense is still there and more should be forgiven. Even if you think that you’ve forgiven someone, oftentimes there are multiple layers to an offensive event, and the different layers must be forgiven in order for peace to be restored.
After you have forgiven someone, the clouds from your mind are removed, and you are able to see the event more clearly. I remember a time in which I was offended at my girlfriend, forgave her, and realized during the process that I was the one who was wrong. I then went back to her and apologized.
Other times forgiveness may lead you to letting go of ties to someone. A few years ago, I forgave a lady to whom I loaned thousands of dollars. I forgave her for not paying me back, and for all the feelings that were associated with it. Later on I was led to forgive the debt. I forgave the debt, and sent her a message saying that the debt was forgiven. This not only helped release the emotional resentment against her, but it also freed me from my ties to her. I wish her the best, but we don’t need to associate anymore, and forgiveness freed me from the connection between us.
Some people claim that time heals all wounds. I don’t think this is true. Time heals certain kinds of wounds, but time does not heal offense. Offense does not go away on its own. I’ve talked to plenty of people in their 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s who still refer to past hurts as if the offense just happened. In fact, my grandparents still refer to offenses that they received when they were in their teens, and they are in their nineties now! Pay attention to what your parent’s and grandparent’s say. If they can’t tell a story without anger rising in their voices, then they are still offended by what took place.
Forgiveness is a daily process. We live in a flawed world and we will get offended, but we can let go of offenses quickly through forgiveness. If you find yourself feeling overly tense or short with people, think about what has happened throughout the day. If you remember something that makes you angry, then there is probably an event that took place in which you took offense. Forgive immediately, or as soon as possible.
Take the words of the Bible to heart, “…Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,” (Ephesians 4:26). Do your best to not go to bed with offenses still on your mind. Your subconscious mind is like a plot of land, and it will return what you plant in it. If you plant anger in it during the day, then it will process that anger all night long. Those seeds of anger will then multiply, and return a crop of bad fruit into your life. Forgive before sleeping, so your mind can process positive thoughts during the night. Then you can wake up to a fresh new morning!
The tool of forgiveness will help you to release many of the emotional brakes that have held you back in life. Please, teach this to your children. There is no better tool that you can give them than to teach them how to live emotionally free. Bookmark this page and share it with others, or download the PDF of the forgiveness exercise and send it to friends who could benefit from it. I wish you all the success in the world, and please use this technique as much as you need to.
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