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Extending Forgiveness- It is a Process

As a certified Transformational Leadership & Life Coach, clients often ask me how they can learn to forgive a boss, a co-worker, spouse, or other person. I share with them these gentle steps to forgive, let go of the pain, and move forward with hope.

Let us take a look at several key factors involved in forgiveness:

1) Know what forgiveness means and why it's important.

Forgiveness not about making excuses or diminishing the pain caused; it is understanding that your choice to respond to an offense says more about who you are than what violation occurred. Forgiveness is a lot like an onion: there are many layers of forgiveness (and both processes may make you cry). It kind of stinks a bit, but when exposed to heat, it caramelizes you into a resilient, rich person. It allows you to be kind, empathetic, and open to the goodness available in the world.

Research shows forgiveness produces substantial physiological and psychological benefits. It decreases depression, anxiety, unhealthy anger, and even PTSD. It also releases the offender not so much from their offense's natural consequences but because it can release them to move past their guilt and shame.

2) Extending forgiveness is a lot like exercising your muscles.

Like with physical exercise, you don't start with a triathlon on your first day of working out. Forgiveness has many layers and many phases depending on the severity of the harm. You can start small by not talking about who offended you or why they offended you. We often need to vent--to tell someone when we are hurt. Gossip is when you talk about someone else to an individual who is not a part of the problem or the solution. Besides, when we speak to a friend or coworker, they often take up your offense without knowing the truth or the facts of what occurred. To process your hurt, choose with whom you share with wisely. Share the situation only to resolve the situation. Don't let it fester.

To resolve conflict, the steps involve going to one another directly and having a conversation about what transpired. Be humble: you could be wrong or misunderstand the situation. Go in love and caring more about the relationship than you do about yourself. Go in pre-forgiveness. In other words, strive to be unoffendable. Go to understand the truth.

If you can't come to an understanding, forgive regardless. Know that you have a choice of how you want to interact with this person in the future. Decide to recognize that each person is unique, talented, loved by God, and irreplaceable. Give people the same grace you hope to receive in your life.

3) Assess your inner thoughts.

It is essential to understand

· what you are thinking,

· how your thoughts are making you feel, and

· the resulting actions.

For example, you don't need to forgive your baby for being selfish or your spouse for being an imperfect individual even if they cause inconvenience.

At the same time, many relationships can drive us nuts. Think about those who are in your life and ask yourself if you are harboring unresolved negative thoughts about them. Emotional pain comes in many forms: lack of trust, festering anger, resentment, pessimistic worldview, lack of confidence, feeling stuck. These emotions can be resolved by forgiveness; understand what's going on in your mind. Acknowledge it.

Through forgiveness, you can begin to think differently about the situation. You can use empathy as a gift to catapult you forward, or an opportunity to learn a new skill. You may be able to do this on your own or with the mentoring of a therapist or life coach.

Julie Sies, the owner of Exponential Functions, LLC, is an ACC Life and Leadership Coach and an Accredited Transformational Leadership Trainer. For more information, find her at

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