How to Truly Forgive

The Higher Path of Compassion

The practice of forgiveness, which is central to every faith and spiritual tradition, can transform lives. Opening our hearts and forgiving ourselves and others, is a healing process that mends bodies, minds and spirits.

The act of forgiving engenders hope and optimism, eases anger and stress, and boosts self-confidence. When we commit to accepting ourselves despite our faults and treating others with compassion, empathy and respect, we move from bitterness and distrust toward inner peace and loving-kindness.

International Forgiveness Day, sponsored by the U.S.-based Worldwide Forgiveness Alliance, believes in the words of Archbishop Desmond Tutu: “Without forgiveness, there is no future.” Last year, groups in 20 U.S. cities and nine countries observed it by honoring heroes and champions of forgiveness, nonviolence and peace. Global Forgiveness Day, sponsored by the Canadian-based Christian Embassy of Christ’s Ambassadors, walks a parallel path to promote peace, non-violence and forgiveness throughout the world.

Forgiveness, as any act of charity, must begin at home. These seven steps will lead us on the path of true compassion.

• STEP 1: Celebrate the human spirit on forgiveness days. We’re capable of reconciling differences with the right heart and approach.

• STEP 2: Make a list of people who have offended you, and you them. Prioritize the names.

• STEP 3: Reflect on the state of the relationship before the falling out. Find what went wrong.

• STEP 4: Contact those people, if possible, to begin the process of reconciliation. Often, a simple “I’m sorry” restores a broken relationship.

• STEP 5: Think nationally and globally of the ethnic, religious and political problems that destroy families and people. Seek solutions.

• STEP 6: Write emails to embassies or to any newspaper’s Letters to the Editor department to comment about the power of forgiveness. Making others aware of your concerns for elevating humanity raises the idea behind forgiveness and reconciliation.

• STEP 7: Through local community or faith groups, organize an informational campaign on forgiving one another toward a better humanity.

Mahatma Gandhi observed, “Forgiveness is choosing to love. It is the first skill of self-giving love.”

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