by Peggy Burns, M.S., LMFT – CCC San Francisco, Center Director
“I think that if God forgives us we must forgive ourselves.” ~ C. S. Lewis
I love the quote by Max Lucado, “Forgiveness is unlocking the door to set someone free and realizing you were the prisoner!”. Granting forgiveness is a valuable gift that has been proven to have great psychological and physical benefits to the giver. It is one of the keys for health in all of our close relationships. Forgiveness is a way for you to step into your future and not to be anchored to your past.
At Christian Counseling Centers San Francisco, we have been discussing how to help our clients find true forgiveness. We would like to share with you a very powerful 30-minute video: “Six Steps to Self-Forgiveness” by Everett Worthington. Dr. Worthington is a professor of psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University and a clinical psychologist. His research and writing focuses on forgiveness and other virtues such as religion and spirituality, and issues related to marriage and family. His mission is to help individuals (every heart), couples and families (every home), and even communities and countries (every homeland) to learn to forgive.
We realize that many of our clients have experienced very painful situations and that forgiveness is not easy to achieve. Dr. Worthington’s story is riveting as he had to follow his own steps to forgiveness after his elderly mother was murdered and then his brother committed suicide. The following are two types of forgiveness he has defined:
“Decisional forgiveness” involves deciding to forgive a personal offense and letting go of angry and resentful thoughts and feelings toward the person who has wronged you.
“Emotional forgiveness” involves replacing the negative emotions with positive feelings like compassion, sympathy, and empathy. Research shows that emotional forgiveness is where the most health benefits lie.
If you know someone struggling with unforgiveness please consider having them watch the following videos below or provide them the attached handout which highlights how to achieve forgiveness of others and obtaining self-forgiveness.
Book Recommendation: Moving Forward: Six Steps to Forgiving Yourself and Breaking Free from the Past by Everett Worthington Jr.
Disclaimer: This article is intended as an educational resource only, and is not intended to be a replacement for treatment. For evaluation and treatment, please contact a qualified mental health professional.