How to Forgive

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How do I forgive? More specifically:  How do I forgive the unforgivable?

How do I Forgive?

I believe this is a universal question many of us struggle with. What about you?

I recently had the opportunity to participate in a Forgiveness Global TeleSummit hosted by Nancy Battye with 33 other speakers (click here for the details). The panel and listeners brought up a number of great questions and personal experiences I thought I would share with you.

Here are some highlights to help you heal and forgive.

Forgiveness is in the Will, not in the Feeling

Many people get stuck on being able to forgive because they mistakingly define forgiveness as an emotion instead of an action.

Forgiveness is NOT a feeling. Feelings are nice, and eventually the hope to be free from the emotional negative charge of what you have forgiven, is certainly a worthwhile byproduct of having forgiven. But.. it is not the first step in the process of forgiveness. The very first step is in your free will to make a choice to forgive.

So what do I have to do to forgive using my free will?

You have forgiven if you:

1.Wish no ill will or harm to the person who has treated you unjustly.

2.You pray or send englightenment to the person you are trying to forgive to change for the better – because their soul needs more help than yours.

3.Leave it to God or your Higher Power to resolve the issue in a manner of divine justice for the good of all involved.

Forgiveness is not your idea of making the wrong right, but allowing God to make the wrong right.

Self Forgiveness

Your ability to forgive someone else is a direct reflection of how much you are able to forgive yourself.

Consider the following scenario…

A perfect stranger in the street yells out your are stupid and ugly – how do you react? Probably without much emotion considering the source.

Now imagine the person you love most saying the exact same words to you. How do you feel now? Probably much different from the first scenario.


The words were exactly the same – but your emotional response was completely different. The only deduction you can logically make is that it is more than the words which matter to you. It is not what is said – but the source of your emotional connection to the person who speaks to you, what their relationships means to you, what trigger they push in you from your past., and how you view yourself.

Salt only hurts when it hits an open wound. The fact you are in pain proves there is wound open which you need to heal.

When in Pain, Focus on:

1. What is the gut reaction teaching me? What do I need to learn about myself?

2. What is the wound I need to heal?

3. Be grateful for the gift of discovering the real issue and the opportunity to finally heal, so you can be emotionally free from it.

Don’t Obsess

Over thinking the problem, pain and past event does nothing except hurt you again.

If you don’t let go of this negativity, you must ask yourself these two questions:
“Why do I want to keep myself marinated in this poison of self destruction?”
Why do I not love myself enough to stop staying in the pain?”

Give up the hope of a better past.  Focus your precious energy on what you can control and change for the better.

Forgiveness begins with forgiving yourself. Trusting God more, and depending on yourself less. Listening to the whispers and warning signs God may be giving you in the silence of your prayer, or through other people.

Forgiveness is a process

You don’t put an acorn seed in the ground and expect a full grown 20 foot acorn tree to be looking back at you 20 minutes later! Why would you expect this unreasonable result from yourself?

Be patient with yourself, and focus on the size of your God and the great progress you have made. Not the size of your problem or how far you think you have to go.

“He who does not forgive digs two graves.” Chinese Proverb


Deb Scott, BA, CPC

Deb is Author of the 2 x National Award Winning Book The Sky is Green and The Grass is Blue - turning your upside down world right side up!, a Certified Professional Coach at Discover the Amazing YOU! Coaching, and host of the hit new Best People We Know Show! on Blog Talk Radio. Self Help Radio

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  • Ling Que

    Thanks Marc. I have been going through mistreatment at work and at life for years until as of today and will continue on in my life. I am getting drpresed more and more. But I realize the problem and searching for help. I got your words: often time, it is not important if you are right or you are wrong.
    Just be yourself, try to listen, try not to defend……

    Somehow, I have personality that people don’t like me – even my boss who hired me and even I am doing an excellent job at work, collecting mugs and put them to dish washer in the office…..

    It has been through my entire life. It is hard to change this. Now I am telling myself, I just need to do something to make sure I don’t feel hurt all the time….. to protect myself……

  • marc zazeela

    Sometimes forgiveness is difficult. Forgiving is cathartic. You don’t even have to tell someone they are forgiven. It only needs to happen in your own mind. When you forgive, you are letting go of negative feelings that will affect you more than them.

    Forgive and let go.

  • Kamlesh Sharma

    Very much agree with the article but it becomes very difficult at some stage for a person to let one`s ego leave unsatisfied.Practically a layman is unaware of these heavenly feelings.Sometimes we pretend to be good but ignore the occasions where we could help the people to keep the evils avoided.No doubt forgiveness is a key factor to accelerate love among us.

  • Mohamed Nasreldin

    Very well written article Deb. I loved it. Quite agree the terminology that “forgiveness is a process ” as it is very descriptive of the reactions, the cummulative efforts and willness.

  • Shann

    Excellent post. The number one suggestion I share with clients, family and friends in the throes of a significant transformation is to forgive themselves and everyone who’s ever done them harm. Compassionate self-care and letting go of the weight of a painful past experience is liberating.

  • Jacqueline Dorman

    We are looking for guest hosts and quality content producers for our fall launch. We are a team of media executives, TV marketing veterans and new media consultants. We have plenty of room for content in the motivational category. Please email us if you have an interest. We found you by having a mutual friend with Elizabeth of Best You Ever and we saw you on her site. Warm regards!

  • greensky

    Thank you so much for this comment Leslie – and I love your Paths of Change website by the way!!
    It is so true, we all understand life looking back, but we all must live life moving forward. This is why it is so wonderful when we help each other with the life lessons we have been given!
    Continued blessings for your all you do and are Leslie!!

  • Leslie Flowers

    How I wish I had this article 10 years ago. Now I know that the choice is intellectual and the feeling is subconscious. I am going to share this for anyone who may be grappling with forgiveness. Appreciate this article, Deb. Leslie

  • greensky

    Julie you said it perfectly!!!
    Continued blessings and appreciation,

  • Julie Cox

    Forgiveness is a gift to myself.When I choosed to forgive all the cruelties I suffered,the veil of hatred was lifted and I saw the Light…the Light which is God…God is LOve.

  • Ande Lyons

    Oh Deb… this is such a beautiful timeless yet timely post… not only about forgiveness… which is such a bold choice for a peaceful heart (Robin Casarjian!)… but also about HOW and WHY to forgive.

    Thank you for being a powerful catalyst and teacher for personal change and growth. I deeply appreciate you.

    Much love and blessings,


  • Marc Zazeela

    Great ideas, Deb. It should not be the difficult to forgive. People make mistakes, say things they don’t really mean and do things that they wish they had not. Imagine how miserable you would be if you harbored ill feelings all the time.

    Everyone deserves a second chance…and a third… maybe a fourth!

    Forgive and move on.


  • NokomisMichelle

    It’s like you read my latest blog and answered it with this article. Freaky! It’s all so true. Of course, having the person apologize and accept responsibility for the hurt they caused you always helps but it’s more then that. Because so many times sorry isn’t, just couldn’t be, enough. And the truest statement in this post is “Salt only hurts when it hits an open wound…Be grateful for the gift of discovering the real issue and the opportunity to finally heal, so you can be emotionally free from it”. AMEN TO THAT! It’s true. And the better they know you the better they are at aiming at your weak spots. Still, it’s so great to know those weak spots. They only way to strengthen them is to first identify them. Being called “fat” hurts because I know I’ve gained weight over the past five years. Being called ugly hurts because I’ve always believed it about myself despite what so many people tell me. It’s good to know these things and to focus on redirecting my thoughts to positive things. That way I strengthen those weak spots. And I’ve realized that I am not a vengeful person and I don’t hold grudges. I love so completely that it’s impossible for me to want to do harm to some one, even if they’ve beaten me down. I used to think that was a weakness. Not anymore. It’s easier, so much easier, to get happiness back when you focus on the love you feel for someone. It’s like that Gerry McGuire line “you had me at hello”… as soon as he walked in the damn door she was his. That’s just how it is. Because she loved him so completely, because she believed in him even when he was messing up. That’s love. Unconditional. And it really does help in letting someone go. You want to see them happy right? Yup. Letting go, letting “Jesus Take the Wheel”. Someone on my page tweeted something that I LOVED! It said: “The only pray worth praying… ‘thy will be done'”. Amen to that! This was a great Article Deb :)

  • Maggie Wright

    I enjoyed this article immensely and agree with what you say – but I believe you may have overlooked a very important point and which makes many people suffer because they cannot forgive. They feel extremely guilty about harboring this bad feeling but the act of forgiving does not have to be extended if the person continues to commit heinous crimes. Even God does not extend that forgiveness forever! Therefore it really comes down to how an individual feels about the forgiveness = it is his/her personal choice.

  • greensky

    Thank YOU Rhonda for sharing YOUR shine with us!
    Love and blessings,

  • Rhonda Neely

    I love this…Forgiveness is in the will not the feeling. Great article Deb with much needed and valuable information for so many!!!