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The 5-Step Forgiveness Formula To Help You Heal Your Relationships

1152277_90340870This coming Friday night through Saturday night we’ll be concentrating on healing relationships. It is the most important fast day in the Jewish tradition, Yom Kippur, translated as the Day of Atonement.

How do you achieve at-one-ment, a sense of being at one with self, God, and other? Mostly, through seeking and granting forgiveness which may lead to a state of profound acceptance.

We rely on a formula, which we simplify here, to help us heal the pains and strains, ups and downs of relationships. The relationships we work hard to heal include our relationships with others, our relationship with the God, and our relationship with our self.

The 5-Step Forgiveness Formula For Those Needing To Be Forgived

1. We’ve done or said or even thought something that pulls us away from our best, possible self. Perhaps we hurt another, perhaps we’ve harmed ourselves.

2. We acknowledge what we’ve done, feel regret and feel pain.

3. If we’ve hurt another we make reparations to them in a way that really shows them we want to make things right.  If we’ve hurt ourselves, we meditate, pray, and heal in a way that helps us repair and strengthen our highest self. We believe that the breach between us and the Creator (or God of your understanding) can be repaired.

4. We commit to making a serious effort to never repeat the harmful, cutting, act/words/thoughts again.

5. Finally, we move forward, not dwelling on the guilt or shame. We seek a renewed understanding in the wise teachings of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov which say: If we are capable of harm, we are capable of repair.

And once we’ve done the hard inner and outer work (and reparations), we should forget the past, and focus on maximizing joy and appreciation for our life.

On the flip side, if  you are capable of forgiving someone, especially someone who sincerely asks you to forgive them, that might open the mystical wellsprings of your own requests for forgiveness.

The 5-Step Forgiveness Formula For Those Needing To Forgive

1. Someone has done or said something that has hurt you and you tell the other person he or she has hurt you.

2. He asks for your forgiveness. You tell him in order to forgive him you will require a two part commitment from him.

3. He must really shows you he wants to make things right. This may require a sincerely stated apology or may even require reparations.

4. He verbally and internally commits to making a serious effort to never repeat the harmful, cutting, act/words/thoughts again.

5. You move forward, not dwelling on revenge. We seek to do our part, and accept a sincere apology.  (But even a tepid apology can be accepted if you choose to do so.)

If the apology is insincere or not forthcoming at all, a kind of forgiving acceptance might be worked on, but see the note* below.

Though now may be a gateway to do so, it is always a great time of year for repairing relationships whenever possible.

* Please note: If you have been abused or otherwise seriously harmed by someone, discussing this with a therapist and/or spiritual adviser is necessary. There are many other kinds of healing that need to take place before forgiveness should be addressed, if at all. If someone is actively abusing you, forgiveness is not the issue, healthy self-protection is.


The 5-Step Forgiveness Formula To Help You Heal Your Relationships

Richard Zwolinski, LMHC, CASAC & C.R. Zwolinski

Richard Zwolinski, LMHC, CASAC is the author of Therapy Revolution: Find Help, Get Better, and Move On Without Wasting Time or Money and is licensed in addiction and psychotherapy with over 25 years experience as well as a consultant to organizations and companies in the fields of mental health and addiction. He is the executive director of an outpatient behavioral health program. Learn more about Richard here.

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APA Reference
& C.R. Zwolinski, R. (2014). The 5-Step Forgiveness Formula To Help You Heal Your Relationships. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 31, 2020, from


Last updated: 28 Sep 2014
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