Forgiveness on the Beachside Blog

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You've probably heard many quotes about forgiveness throughout your life...

  • "When a deep injury is done to us, we never heal until we forgive." - Nelson Mandela
  • "If we really want to love, we must learn how to forgive." - Mother Teresa
  • "To err is human; to forgive, divine." - Alexander Pope
  • "Forgiveness is a reflection of loving yourself enough to move on." - Dr. Steve Maraboli
  • "Forgiving isn't something you do for someone else. It's something you do for yourself." - Jodi Picoult

You may also be familiar with the glass of water analogy; to paraphrase it...


A professor held up a glass of water and asked his students how much it weighed. Answers were given in terms of ounces. He then pointed out that if he held the glass for longer and longer periods of time, the weight itself wouldn't change, but the perceived weight would as his arm tired. Grudges, hurts, and other stuck emotions have a similar effect on our bodies; the longer we hold on to them, the more they weigh us down.


Forgiveness can be challenging and uncomfortable, but it ultimately leads to a sense of lightness and freedom. Consider these exercises if you haven't deeply explored the acts of forgiving and being forgiven before.


If the goal is to repair a relationship, having the difficult conversation with the person in question is the most direct way to begin the healing process. That being said, you don't necessarily have to do this alone. Therapists and other mediators can be very helpful in keeping the conversation on track and making sure that everyone involved feels heard and validated. Always keep in mind that while you may be ready to forgive, the other person may still feel ashamed, guilty, or even hurt. If you are the person seeking forgiveness, respect that the other person may not be ready for it yet. The process can take a lot of time, but in the end you'll have a stronger relationship with better communication. 


If the person who wronged you is deceased, this is obviously not an option, and if the person is unsafe in any way - e.g. has a history of violence toward you or is toxic to your emotional well-being - then it would probably be better to try one of the other exercises instead.


Writing can be easier than talking, and writing a letter to someone who has wronged you or that you have wronged is almost a form of journaling. Your letter may contain words that you can't get out in speech and may be something that you actually mail if it seems like it would be productive to do so. Otherwise, writing can just be a catharsis, a way to get out your feelings with no intention of having anyone else knowing about them. (Sometimes more comes out when you know that your words won't be read!) Once you've finished writing this kind of letter, destroy it in any way that feels good - throwing it out, ripping it to shreds, or even burning it in a safe way. Picture all of the stuck emotions disappearing into oblivion as you do this for an extra release.


Sometimes envisioning having a heartfelt, forgiving conversation with a person can lift an emotional weight. Search YouTube (or your favorite app) for guided meditations geared toward forgiveness, or if you're experienced in meditation, put yourself into a relaxed, safe state where you can visualize the person in question being with you and reacting positively to your words. 


This Hawaiian therapeutic method has evolved into a few variations, all of which center on the idea of "making things right". You may see it described as the Hawaiian Forgiveness Prayer or the Hawaiian Reconciliation Practice, but no matter what the terminology, it's comprised of the four steps of repentance, forgiveness, gratitude, and love, sincerely expressed either in person or through visualization:

  1. I'm sorry.
  2. Please forgive me.
  3. Thank you.
  4. I love you.
Forgiveness Exercises on the Beachside Blog: Conversation, Letters, Visualization, Ho'oponopono

Forgiveness is a big part of interpersonal relationships...but don't forget to also forgive yourself! We are all human and we all therefore make mistakes. Holding on to past embarrassments, past guilt, past shame, etc. can weigh down the soul as well. Use these exercises to forgive your current self, your past self, or even your future self. Consider speaking with a therapist or counselor if you're having trouble with this, or at the very least, buy a workbook to guide you through the process.

Kathleen Ketola is a Licensed Acupuncturist and the owner of Beachside Community Acupuncture. She loves providing affordable acupuncture to the residents of Addison, Dallas, and Farmers Branch, Texas, and educating the general public on how acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine can treat everything from pain to infertility to stress and beyond. Click "Book Now" at the top of this page to book an appointment or feel free to contact her at (214) 417-2260.