“Forgiveness is the most powerful word in the English language.” – Lewis B. Smedes
The words of Lewis B. Smedes show us how important forgiveness is to our lives. It’s been said that “forgiveness is divine,” and it can be difficult but also very rewarding if we embrace it.
Forgiveness is a word that has been thrown around and used in different contexts, but what does it mean to forgive? What are the benefits of forgiveness? We will discuss how forgiveness allows you to free yourself from past transgressions, why it’s important for your mental health and the REACH Forgiveness method.
What is REACH Forgiveness?
REACH Forgiveness was developed by Everett Worthington, Ph.D., from the Department of Psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University. He found that forgiveness is a process that can be achieved through five stages: Recognition, Empathy, Apology/Atonement, Confession/Restitution, and Healing.
How to ‘Reach’ Forgiveness?
Mental health professionals have different opinions on how to reach forgiveness; however, there are certain steps that most agree upon which can be seen in the REACH method. Ironically enough– REACH forgiveness is used to reach forgiveness or work our way toward healing.
The first step in REACH forgiveness is recognizing that we have been wronged. Recalling the hurt. Not minimizing, bypassing, or catastrophizing the experience but understand it for what it is exactly and how we feel about it. Identifying that we feel the way that we feel about the wound will aid in the healing process. This can help to work through any feelings and emotions in order to become more grounded so that we are ready for empathy (the second step).
Empathy is the next step. Understanding what it means to forgive someone with a level of empathy. Empathy helps us see things from another person’s perspective. This can alleviate negative feelings about an event or experience in our life. It also provides space for compassion and patience when interacting with others as we heal moving forward.
The third stage is acknowledging our story. Seeing our part in the situation and understanding how forgiveness is healing for ourselves as well as others involved. Being able to forgive will make our lives better overall. Practicing forgiveness of ourselves and of others who we feel have wronged us is crucial for our mental and spiritual health. It is referred to as an altruistic gift.
The fourth step is the most difficult in forgiving yourself. It’s important to get rid of shame and self-blame, which can be done with kind words or a gratitude journal where you can write out your feelings. This step is to stand in your truth. Owning it can also be out loud or telling another person how you feel. Accountability is taken in this step.
The fifth and final step is to release the person who harmed you from their guilt by forgiving them for what they have done, even if it doesn’t seem fair or logical at first. It is about continuing to practice forgiveness daily by applying what has been learned from the first four stages. This practice provides for more long-term change when it comes to forgiving oneself as well as others that have wronged us through our life experience.
You don’t know until you try it. Releasing and moving forward can change our lives when we allow forgiveness to flow through us. We just have to take action and try!
Forgiveness offers a path forward from trauma and devastation so that we might find peace within ourselves again. It’s not an easy process. Learn more about forgiveness and why it is so important when healing. Through this work of healing comes hope – both for ourselves, our relationships with others, and for life itself.
With a spiritual approach and the right tools to retrain your brain – You have the power to transform your life and habits significantly. Satori Way is here to help set the stage with what is right for you, join us as a free member, and check out our 5-day course here!
Worthington, E. (2021). Reach Forgiveness of Others — Everett Worthington. Retrieved 14 August 2021, from http://www.evworthington-forgiveness.com/reach-forgiveness-of-others