"Sister, they killed mom! There’s blood everywhere …… the wall, the carpet!"
The daughter of the family received this horrible phone message from her brother and found out that two young thieves had broken into their mother's house, brutally murdered her with a crowbar, raped her and left. The daughter of this family, after a while, became one of the world's leading psychologists who has done extensive research in the field of forgiving others. Dr. Worthington, who herself had experienced this tragic event in her personal life, came up with a five-step formula to teach others how they can forgive wrongdoers. If you need to forgive someone in your life, if someone has hurt you and the negative feeling is still with you, you can use this formula to let go of the resentment once and for all.
Before I tell you these five steps, I have to say that this process is not easy at all, but the good news is that extensive academic research, especially Stanford University research, has proven that people who can successfully complete these five steps are much better off than before.
1 - The first step is to remember the event objectively. This recollection should be fair and unbiased. This is hard work. You should take a few deep breaths and try to remember the facts of that event, the events that really happened, in a non-biased way and without framing the other party in a devilish manner. For example, in the same case of the murder of her mother, Dr. Worthington thought that the two young men probably saw that the lights were off, there was no car in front of the door, and there was a good opportunity to break into the house to steal, but when they entered the house, they were surprised to see that someone was there.
2- The second stage is empathy. This is again hard work again. In other words, you put yourself in the place of the aggressor. Put yourself in the wrongdoer’s shoes and see and define the event through the lens of that person’s eyes. Let's go back to the case of murder: It was probably that when the two young men came upon someone in the house, they were suddenly terrified, and so they thought, "This guy has seen us now!" So, They attacked her out of fear. Remember: empathy does not mean that we affirm the party’s intention, agree with it, or approve what she has done. Not at all! We are just putting ourselves in her shoes and looking at the world through her eyes.
3- The third step is to give the gift of forgiveness to the other party. Again, this is very hard. How can this be done? First, we can think about our past, the times when we went wrong and others forgave us. It may have not been such a big mistake, but anyway, we made mistakes and others forgave us as well. In the same manner, we can think that if we forgive the other party, both of us will be freed. We deserve peace and by forgiving the other side, we too will find peace.
4 - The fourth stage is the public announcement of this forgiveness. It does not mean that you should take a horn loudspeaker in your hands and go to the streets telling everyone that you have forgiven them, no! You can tell a family member. You can tell a friend, or you can even write a letter and send it to the person who did wrong by you. It does not matter what you do, but this public announcement will make this forgiveness stronger and stronger.
5 - And the fifth step is to be committed to this forgiveness. This is again difficult. Forgiveness does not mean that you erase that memory from your mind; the point is that when you are committed to forgiving, whenever that memory pops up, you know you have consciously chosen to forgive that person for his own liberation and for your own comfort.
As I told you, going through these five steps is not easy at all! But Dr. Worthington's research has shown that if you want to feel better, this method will help you a lot. You deserve peace! Forgive the other side.