1. Know what forgiveness is and why it matters

Forgiveness is about goodness, about extending mercy to those who’ve harmed us, even if they don’t “deserve” it. Working on forgiveness can help us increase our self-esteem and give us a sense of inner strength and safety.

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Eight Keys to Forgiveness

greatergood.berkeley.edu

Practice forgiveness, it helps if you have worked on positively changing your inner world by learning to be what I call “forgivingly fit.”Just as you would start slowly with a new physical exercise routine, it helps if you build up your forgiving heart muscles slowly, incorporating regular “workouts” into your everyday life.

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It’s important to figure out who has hurt you and how. This may seem obvious; but not every action that causes you suffering is unjust. 

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When we suffer a great deal, it is important that we find meaning in what we have endured. To find meaning is not to diminish your pain or to say, I’ll just make the best of it or All things happen for a reason.

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Forgiveness is always hard when we are dealing with deep injustices from others. I have known people who refuse to use the word forgiveness because it just makes them so angry. That’s OK—we all have our own timelines for when we can be merciful.

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When people successfully imagine forgiving someone (in a hypothetical situation), they show increased activity in the neural circuits responsible for empathy. Empathy is connected to forgiveness and is an important step in the process.

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Most of us tend to be harder on ourselves than we are on others and we struggle to love ourselves. In self-forgiveness, you honor yourself as a person, even if you are imperfect. 

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When we overcome suffering, we gain a more mature understanding of what it means to be humble, courageous, and loving in the world. All of these choices can lighten the heart and bring joy to one’s life.

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