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The Heroic Choice to Forgive: 9 Steps to Finding Peace, Closure, and Healing

Updated: Jun 3

Table of Content

Step 1: Acknowledge Your Feelings

Step 2: Reconciliation is Not Required

Step 3: Activate the Relaxation Response

Step 4: Focus on What You Can Control

Step 5: Move On

6: Change the Story

Holding onto grudges and grievances can take a toll on your mental and emotional well-being. It's time to take control of your life and find peace by learning the 6 Steps to forgiveness. These steps, backed by research from the Stanford University Forgiveness Project, offer a proven method for letting go of past hurts and moving forward with your life.

In this blog post, we'll explore each step in detail, guiding you through the process of releasing negative emotions and finding closure. You'll learn how to identify your feelings, practice self-care, and embrace the power of forgiveness for your own sake. By the end of this journey, you'll have the tools you need to heal and cultivate a more positive outlook on life. So, let's dive in and discover how to transform your approach to forgiveness and forge a brighter, healthier future.

Step 1: Acknowledge Your Feelings

Forgiveness is a difficult journey that requires self-reflection and healing. The first step towards forgiveness is acknowledging your feelings. It is essential to identify the emotions that you are feeling and how they relate to the situation at hand. This step requires you to look inward and recognize the ways in which the situation has affected you.

Understanding Your Emotions

Understanding your emotions is the first step towards healing. You must be honest with yourself about how you feel and why you feel that way. Identifying the emotions that you are experiencing can be challenging, but it is crucial to moving forward. You may feel anger, sadness, disappointment, or hurt. Whatever you are feeling, it is valid, and you need to recognize it.

Once you have acknowledged your emotions, you can begin to process them. It is essential to take the time to sit with your feelings and understand them. This can be a difficult and painful process, but it is necessary for healing.

Sharing Your Experience

Sharing your experience with trusted individuals can be beneficial. Talking about how you feel can help you understand and process your emotions. It can also provide you with a new perspective on the situation.

When sharing your experience, it is important to choose people who will listen without judgment and provide support. You may find it helpful to speak with a therapist or counselor who can offer guidance and help you work through your emotions.

It is important to remember that everyone's journey towards forgiveness is unique. Acknowledging your feelings is the first step towards healing and moving forward.

The Benefits of Forgiveness

Forgiveness is not just about the other person. It is about you. When you hold onto anger and resentment, it can lead to stress, anxiety, and even physical health problems. Forgiving someone can release that burden from your shoulders and allow you to move forward with your life. It can also help improve your relationships with others and increase your overall well-being. So, don't hold onto grudges. Forgive for your own sake.

Taking Responsibility for Your Own Healing

No one else can heal you but yourself. It's important to take responsibility for your own healing and not wait for someone else to apologize or make things right. Forgiveness is a choice that you make for yourself, not for anyone else. It's about letting go of the past and moving forward with a positive attitude. So, take control of your own healing process and choose forgiveness.

Remember, forgiveness is a process. It takes time and effort, but the benefits are worth it. By forgiving others, you are ultimately forgiving yourself and allowing yourself to experience peace and happiness. So, take that step towards forgiveness today.

Step 2: Reconciliation is Not Required

Forgiveness is a powerful tool that can help us move on from past hurts and find peace and closure. However, many people mistakenly believe that forgiveness requires reconciliation. They think that to forgive someone, they must also reconcile with them and resume the relationship as it was before. But this is not always the case.

Forgiving Without Forgetting

Forgiving someone does not mean forgetting what they did to hurt you. It is important to acknowledge the pain they caused and recognize that it was wrong. Forgiveness is about letting go of the anger and resentment you feel towards the person who hurt you. It is about choosing to move forward and not allowing their actions to continue to affect your life.

Forgiving without forgetting means setting boundaries and protecting yourself from further harm. It means accepting that the relationship may never be the same and that the person who hurt you may not change their behavior. Forgiveness is not about excusing their actions or pretending like nothing happened. It is about finding peace within yourself.

Finding Peace and Closure

Forgiving someone who has hurt you can be a difficult and emotional process. It can take time to work through your feelings and come to a place of forgiveness. But once you have forgiven them, you can find peace and closure.

Forgiving someone can release the negative emotions that have been holding you back. It can help you let go of grudges and resentment, allowing you to move on with your life. When you forgive someone, you free yourself from the burden of anger and bitterness.

Forgiveness can also help you find closure. It can give you the opportunity to say goodbye to the pain and hurt of the past. By forgiving someone, you can close the chapter on that part of your life and move forward with a renewed sense of hope and positivity.

Remember, forgiveness is a personal choice. You do not have to reconcile with someone to forgive them. Forgiving someone is about finding peace within yourself and moving on from the hurt they caused.

When someone hurts us, it is natural to feel distress, and if that person is still in our lives, it can be challenging to let go of hurt feelings. However, forgiveness is essential for our well-being, and we must recognize how these past hurtful events are affecting us in the present.

The Impact of Hurt Feelings

Hurt feelings can affect us physically, mentally, and emotionally. It can lead to anxiety, depression, and even physical symptoms such as headaches and stomach problems. Ignoring these feelings will not make them go away and can cause long-term damage to our mental and physical health.

Recognizing the impact of hurt feelings in our lives is the first step towards forgiveness. It can help us to understand the root cause of our pain and work towards healing it from within.

Healing Through Forgiveness

Forgiveness allows us to release the pain and hurt that we have been holding onto. It is not about condoning the other person's behavior, but rather about finding a sense of peace and closure within ourselves.

One technique to help us move towards forgiveness is to practice the relaxation response. When we feel upset, we can use deep breathing and other stress-management techniques to soothe our body's fight or flight response. This can help us to bring our mind back to a peaceful state and begin to let go of hurtful feelings.

Another way to heal through forgiveness is by focusing on what we can control. We cannot control the actions or feelings of others, but we can control our own thoughts and reactions. By letting go of expectations and focusing on positive situations, we can move forward and find new sources of happiness and fulfillment.

Lastly, changing our grievance story with a new ending can be a powerful way to move towards forgiveness. By choosing to forgive, we become the hero of our own story and take control of our own well-being.

By recognizing the impact of hurt feelings and practicing forgiveness, we can move towards a more peaceful and fulfilling life. Letting go of past grievances, we can open ourselves up to new possibilities for love, beauty, and kindness.

Step 3: Activate the Relaxation Response

In this step, you will learn how to activate the relaxation response in order to cope with stress and relax your mind and body. Coping with stress is an essential part of the forgiveness process, and learning techniques for relaxation can help you to achieve that.

Coping with Stress

Stress is a natural response to challenging situations, but too much stress can be harmful to your health. Coping with stress is crucial in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. One technique for coping with stress is deep breathing. When you feel stressed, take a few deep breaths and focus on your breathing. This helps to slow down your heart rate, reduce blood pressure, and calm your mind and body.

Techniques for Relaxation

Relaxation techniques are an effective way to manage stress and promote relaxation. There are several techniques you can try, such as:

  • Progressive muscle relaxation: This technique involves tensing and relaxing specific muscle groups in your body, one at a time, to promote relaxation.

  • Meditation: This technique involves focusing your attention on a specific object, thought, or activity to promote relaxation and reduce stress.

  • Yoga: This technique involves a combination of physical postures, breathing exercises, and meditation to promote relaxation and reduce stress.

By incorporating these techniques into your daily routine, you can activate the relaxation response and cope with stress more effectively. Remember, forgiveness is for your own sake, and taking care of your mental and physical health is an essential part of the process.

A Monk Meditating and Sitting Under a Tree (Photo by cottonbro studio)

Step 4: - Focus on What You Can Control

Forgiveness is not an easy process, and it can be tempting to remain stuck in anger, resentment, and frustration. However, by focusing on what you can control, you can take steps to move forward in a healthy and positive way.

Letting Go of Expectations

One of the most important steps in focusing on what you can control is to let go of expectations. It is easy to fall into the trap of expecting certain outcomes, behaviors, or actions from others. However, when these expectations are not met, it can lead to disappointment, frustration, and even anger.

Instead, try to focus on what you can control in the situation. This might mean setting realistic expectations for yourself and others, and letting go of unrealistic or unhelpful expectations. By doing so, you can put your energy into positive actions and behaviors, rather than dwelling on what you cannot control.

Taking Control of Your Thoughts and Actions

Another important step in focusing on what you can control is to take control of your thoughts and actions. When we feel hurt, angry, or frustrated, it can be easy to fall into negative thought patterns and behaviors. However, by consciously choosing to take control of these thoughts and behaviors, we can begin to shift our mindset and create positive change.

This might mean practicing mindfulness techniques, such as meditation or deep breathing, to calm the mind and reduce stress. It might also mean practicing self-care, such as exercise, healthy eating, or spending time with loved ones, to boost your mood and energy levels. By taking control of your thoughts and actions, you can create a positive and healthy environment for yourself, even in difficult situations.

Remember, forgiveness is a process, and it takes time and effort to achieve. By focusing on what you can control, you can take steps toward healing and peace. Let go of expectations, take control of your thoughts and actions, and create a positive and healthy environment for yourself.

Step 5: Move On

When you've been wronged, it's natural to ruminate on the event, replaying it over and over in your head. However, this rumination can create a negative cycle that can be hard to break. To move on and find forgiveness, it's important to break this cycle of rumination.

Breaking the Cycle of Rumination

Rumination can lead to negative thoughts and emotions, which can cause stress and anxiety. To break the cycle, try to focus on positive experiences. This can help shift your mindset away from the negative and towards the positive.

One way to break the cycle is to practice mindfulness. This involves being present in the moment and focusing on your thoughts and emotions without judgment. Mindfulness can help you become more aware of your thoughts and feelings, and can help you break free from negative thought patterns.

Another way to break the cycle is to distract yourself with positive experiences. This can be anything from spending time with loved ones to enjoying your favorite hobby. By focusing on positive experiences, you can shift your attention away from negative thoughts and emotions.

Finding Positive Experiences

Finding positive experiences can be a powerful tool in moving on and finding forgiveness. By focusing on the positive, you can shift your mindset away from the negative and towards the future.

One way to find positive experiences is to focus on gratitude. Take time each day to think about the things you're grateful for, no matter how small they may be. This can help shift your focus towards the positive and help you find forgiveness.

Another way to find positive experiences is to practice self-care. This can be anything from taking a relaxing bath to getting a massage. By taking care of yourself, you can improve your mood and help yourself move on from negative experiences.

Remember, finding forgiveness is a journey that takes time. By breaking the cycle of rumination and finding positive experiences, you can move towards a place of forgiveness and peace.

As you move towards forgiveness, it’s essential to focus on your current reality rather than getting stuck in the past. You should start living life to the fullest and embrace the beauty and kindness that exists in the world. Being the agent of change means taking control of your life and finding ways to create positive experiences and memories.

Living Life to the Fullest

After experiencing a grievance, it can be challenging to move forward and live life to the fullest. However, it’s essential to embrace your present and focus on what you can control. Take steps to create new experiences, try new things, and meet new people. You can also engage in activities that previously brought you joy or explore new hobbies that interest you.

By taking control of your life and living it to the fullest, you will empower yourself and build a sense of resilience that will help you navigate life’s challenges.

Finding Beauty and Kindness in the World

When you focus on the positive aspects of life, such as the beauty and kindness that exist in the world, you create a mindset that enables you to see the good in people and situations. You can start by practicing gratitude by writing down things you are thankful for each day.

You can also seek out positive and uplifting stories that inspire you. By focusing on the good in the world, you will begin to feel more optimistic and hopeful, which will help you overcome negative emotions and thoughts associated with the grievance.

Overall, being the agent of change means taking control of your life, focusing on the present, and finding ways to create positive experiences and memories. By doing so, you will empower yourself, build resilience, and find peace in forgiveness.

Step 6: Change the Story

Forgiveness is a powerful tool that can help you move on from past hurts, but it's not always easy. It requires a lot of work and effort, especially when it comes to changing the story that you tell yourself about the past. It can be tempting to cling to old narratives, but doing so only prolongs the pain and prevents you from moving forward.

Creating a New Narrative

The first step in changing the story is to create a new narrative. This means taking a hard look at the past and reinterpreting it in a more positive light. Instead of focusing on the hurt and pain, try to find the lessons and growth that came from the experience.

For example, if you were hurt by a friend's betrayal, instead of dwelling on the betrayal itself, focus on the fact that it taught you to trust your instincts and be more discerning in your relationships. By changing the narrative, you can transform a negative experience into a positive one and use it as a stepping stone to personal growth.

The Heroic Choice to Forgive

Forgiveness is often seen as a weakness, but in reality, it takes a lot of courage and strength to forgive someone who has hurt you. It requires you to let go of your anger and resentment and choose to see the good in others.

By forgiving, you free yourself from the burden of carrying around negative emotions. You also open yourself up to the possibility of reconciliation and deeper connections with others.


Forgiveness is a powerful tool that can bring peace, closure, and healing to wounded feelings. It is a process that requires awareness, commitment, and the willingness to let go of grudges and grievances. By following the nine steps to forgiveness outlined in this article, you can learn to activate the relaxation response, concentrate on what you can control, and be the agent of change in your life. Remember that forgiveness is for your own sake, not for anyone else, and that it does not necessarily mean reconciliation with the person who hurt you. Instead, learn to change the story of your grievance by creating a new ending that highlights your heroic choice to forgive. By doing so, you can find increased health, hopefulness, and happiness in your life.

Silhouette Photography of Person Standing on Green Grass in Front of Mountains during Golden Hour (Photo by S Migaj)

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