R.E.A.C.H. For Forgiveness

Forgiveness is probably the hardest thing we ever have to do. If it is a small thing we need to forgive, most of us can do that fairly easily. I’m talking about the big stuff! Dishonesty, affairs, disloyalty…we all have our tough areas.

Dr. Everett Worthington, Jr. came up with the best way to forgive. I have tried many different ways to forgive and this one stuck with me. He suggests we look at forgiveness as a pyramid we climb. There are 5 steps to his pyramid. He uses the acronym REACH:

R: Recall the pain and hurt you have suffered. Do this in great detail, you owe yourself the respect of acknowledging your pain. You can write a letter to the person (DON’T SEND IT!) Let all your feelings out on the paper.

E: Empathize with the perpetrator. This can be really hard for most of us. Write about what might have motivated the person to hurt you in such a deep way. 99% of the time you will find that this person has acted out of their own pain. It usually makes sense when you look through their eyes. Trust me, this is really AWESOME!

A: Altruistic Gift. This means that you forgive the person not necessarily because they deserve it but rather because you have made mistakes in your life and you would want to be forgiven! Recall your own guilt and the gratitude over being truly forgiven. This will help you develop the desire to forgive the other person and give them the gift of freedom.

C: Commit to yourself that you will forgive. Promise yourself that you will CERTIFY that you have forgiven. You can even make an actual certificate of forgiveness. This is not to be given to the perpetrator it is for you to look at and remind yourself when you have hard times.

H: Hold on to the forgiveness. When memories come back just recall your certificate and remind yourself that you have already forgiven.