Liberate Yourself Through Forgiveness

Home / / ( Published on 2014-08-14 )

"Forgiveness is not an occasional act. It is a permanent attitude."
—Martin Luther King

All of us have been hurt by something that has been done to us, or when our expectations have not been met. Forgiveness is a gift you give to yourself. Forgiving means living in the present instead of the past. When you choose to forgive, you choose to release feelings of anger and resentment. You choose to live in peace. When we don’t forgive others, we keep ourselves shackled to unhealthy thoughts; we are imprisoned in our own minds.

When people forgive they decrease their desire to harm their transgressor. Studies report that forgiving thoughts prompts a sense of increased control and decreased physiological stress responses. Other benefits to forgiveness include a reduction in symptoms of anxiety and depression, and an increase in hopefulness and self-esteem.

Forgiveness is letting go of the pain in order to regain your life. Forgiveness is a skill that becomes easier by practicing with small hurts. The ability to forgive is a manifestation of the personal control that we have over our lives. Forgiveness is a decision to start with a clean slate…..it is a destination.

The Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FSAP) at UCSF provides confidential assessment, counseling, referrals, and consultation services that support the wellbeing of both the individual and the organization. For an appointment or more information contact us at 415/476-8279 or visit the FSAP website.

Steps to Facilitate Forgiveness

  1. Educate yourself—the more you know about forgiveness, the easier you will know how to achieve it.
  2. Conduct an inventory of painful thoughts and memories. Dispose of hurtful thoughts that keep you imprisoned. Practice forgiving small hurts inflicted by strangers, friends, etc. This will prepare you for forgiving major hurts.
  3. Challenge your expectations—“He shouldn’t have done this.” Remind yourself it is unrealistic to expect others to act the way you want. People make mistakes.
  4. Understand that hostile and hateful thoughts are destructive. Be aware of the harm that resentment can do, and let that awareness motivate you to forgive and let go.
  5. Write a letter to the person and express all your feelings fully. Conclude with a declaration that you have forgiven him or her, then destroy it.
  6. Now that you have chosen to release yourself from anger and resentment, feel yourself growing lighter and freer. Now you will be free to move on with your life without the burden of bitterness.

The Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FSAP) at UCSF provides confidential assessment, counseling, referrals, and consultation services that support the wellbeing of both the individual and the organization. For an appointment or more information contact us at 415/476-8279 or visit the FSAP website.