Transcript:  10 Tips for Forgiving

Welcome to the Us and Kids Podcast. I'm your host Jan Talen. I'm a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, a wife, a mom, and grandma. With my own marriage and with my clients of over 35 years, I have worked to help us avoid that pain of divorce and achieve the grand balance of being married forever while parenting together by using the D. N. A. Method of Communication. We know that this is worth the work, and that it's very rewarding. 

And our 10 tips today are tips on how to forgive. There are big things to forgive. There are little things to forgive. There are things to forgive your children for, and your spouse, and perhaps yourself. So as we use our D.N.A. method, we are first of all going to ask you the question: What's your end desire? The D is desire. How do you want this situation, or memory, or experience that you've had to end up? What's your end desire? And then the N is what is your necessary skill? What is your communication skill? Or even, your own personal care skill that is necessary to helping you achieve your end desire? And finally, how do you A apply that skill for yourself but also for the people that you're interacting with?

So we've done some of our 10 tips around:
How do you talk; and
How do you listen; and
How do you play.
Different things like that, and all of those, can feed right into how do we forgive? So, I'm going to invite you to come up with a little thought in your own mind of a situation, big or small, that you would like to process some, while I chat my way through this.

Tip One. In order to truly forgive, it's important that you grasp or reach an understanding of the extent of the violation or the harm that has been done against you. That's the overall tip. The reality is if this is childhood trauma, or something that has just pierced your heart in your soul, it could be that you can't truly grasp that all in one sitting. Nonetheless, it's important not to minimize what has happened to you. And so being able to say, "This is what has happened to me, and this is how it has impacted me" will help you understand the extent of the violation.
The reason we want to start with this is because if we don't know how deep the wound is, we can't really then go for that same depth of healing. And then, we're always going to feel a little off or confused. If we understand the depth of the wound, we will also understand the depth of forgiveness that we're looking for or desiring.
So, sit for a few minutes. Let that perk around. Tip one is understand the depth of the hurt or the harm that has been done against you. Whatever you can understand at this moment in this time. Take some time to do that.
This isn't a quick answer. This is a thoughtful answer. Let the things that have happened to you just sort of roll through your mind. Acknowledge some of the pain and the anguish. Just acknowledge... "Yep, I can see that emotion." "Yeah, that is coming up as well." "Oh yeah, that piece of memory, and here's that emotion." Just jot down those emotions.
We want you to understand them, but we also want you to know that forgiving is a decision more than it is a feeling. There are feelings involved though. We're starting here with understanding, "What do I have to decide to forgive?"

So move on to Step Two... Discern. This is part of that D. What do you want from the person who harmed you? Maybe you think, "Well, wait a minute. I just want to get even with them." Yes. That would be revenge, and understandably there are feelings of anger, and resentment, and revenge, and getting even... wanting them to understand the depth of your pain. Those are normally emotional reactions.
Now take a breath. Say, "what do I want from the person who harmed me?" And, it might be that you just want them out of your head. You don't want to be able to feel their hand on your shoulder. You don't want to all of a sudden drift back into that memory. It's a reasonable thing to want... to not have them in your heart, in your head anymore.
Or, maybe the person who harmed you is a friend, and you just want to be friends again. Maybe you just want to be like, "I'd just like to be okay in the same space with them, without just freaking out in my brain, not knowing what to do, and my mouth going dry." Maybe you want that person to open a note or a text that you sent them. Figure out what you want from that person. The person who harmed you, and jot that down. That's Tip Number Two. 

Number Three: Write down the name of the person you have chosen to forgive. Now sometimes, let's say that it's a Dad or a Mom who has really harmed you. And so, just saying their name, saying that title could freak you out. And so, you might say, "Well, I want..." and then give them their initials because you are not really ready to go into that full awareness. Then give them a title or a name that you can handle right now. You might be able to handle something a little more related to them, like their real name, three or six months down the road. Do what you can do here. Listen to this one, because you just wrote down the name of the person you chose to forgive. 

Now, write down some of the things for which you have needed forgiveness, and write those down. That's a twist, isn't it? Write down the name of the person you have chosen to forgive. Whatever that name is at the moment.
And then, take a moment of internal reflection for the times you have needed forgiveness. And, you may well think, "I've never done what they have done! What I have done 3 million times over will never compare to what they have done!" And, that could well be true. But, it helps us in the process of forgiveness to remember that many of the harms we have done were not intentional. We were probably oblivious. Or, they were intentional, and we feel shame. So Tip Three: the name of the person you have chosen to forgive, and some of your own personal faults and sins. 

Tip Number Four: Write down other possible perspectives of that situation. Include your perspective, and usually that's the easiest one to start with. For Tip Four is we're writing possible perspectives of the situation... your perspective and the offender's possible perspective. So it might be that you're thinking about your mom who was very cruel to you.  Or, your dad who wasn't interactive and didn't step in to help. And maybe, mom's perspective was, "(this is) how my parents (your grandparents) did it, so this is how I do it. That's got to be the right way. It's not fun, but I lived. They'll live." Maybe that's mom's perspective. It's all she's got. Maybe dad's perspective is he was supposed to be around but not really interacting or interfering with mom’s approach. (It) was, "I've got to back up my wife, and my wife lived through it. This kiddo will live through too. My wife's a fine woman." You may not agree with those perspectives, but they are possible perspectives. 

Give yourself some breaths here, because some of this is hard work. You can hear it. It's not like we just rattle off 10 tips, and then in 10 minutes you'd be done.
Forgiving is hard work. If we're going to do it with integrity and with thoroughness, it's hard work. It's not rushed. These things can take weeks and months to, sort of, sort through. It's worth the work.
If you work towards this forgiveness, then the burden is off from you.  And, you live years of freedom, instead of years of burden, and shame, and confusion.
So spend a few months digging into this and making it happen. Understand your perspective. Understand what might be theirs.
And, you may go, "I have no idea. I would never want to enter their world and understand their perspective." And I understand that. Maybe then, you would talk with someone else and say, "What do you think they would be thinking? What could they have been thinking?" And, just help somebody else to help you with that perspective. Because if I haven't been hurt by that person, I might be able to throw out a few other ideas. 

Let's move on to Tip Number Five: Use your empathy and sympathy skills to enter into those perspectives, just as a perspective, not as a truth. Meaning - you don't have to stay there. And, you don't have to think, "Well that must be the truth that my mom was really doing the best she could. And, I don't know if that's the truth. I just know it's a possible perspective.
If I had a ton of courage, I might ask Mom, what were you thinking when you did that to me?" And maybe, my mama's gonna say, "I was so mad at Dad for not helping that I just couldn't hold myself back anymore. And, it came out on you instead of on him." Oh, that's a different perspective again right?
I'm going to use my empathy and my sympathy to say to myself, "Mom really struggled with how to parent me. She didn't necessarily really want to do it meanly. She didn't know what to do, and she was frustrated." That's her experience and perspective, and I'm just gonna say, "If I'm mom then I can see where she is pretty confused or overwhelmed."
This takes a lot of courage to enter into their perspective. You don't have to stay there. We just want you to keep your heart soft enough, so that as you go to release the pain of the experiences, it's soft enough to pull out.
It's springtime here by me, and I am pulling weeds that have grown like crazy. However, my ground right now is really rather dry. And so, the soil is fairly loose, and I'm pulling those weeds out and getting a lot of roots with them. And that's what we want here -- for your heart (by using empathy and sympathy) to be somewhat soft enough that when you go to pull the root of bitterness, and anger, and dismay out of your heart, it comes with all of the little roots attached to it. All of the other little fingerlings come out with it, and that's what sympathy and empathy does as you enter into other people's perspectives. 

Let's move on. Tip Number Six. Think about how being tied to this harmful person or this harmful act is slowing you down. It keeps me from deeply loving my children, because I'm afraid that I'm going to be too mean, so I don't fully interact. That might be part of it if I follow the mom and the parenting idea. It might be, "Yeah, I'm mad at my spouse too. He doesn't do anything either." You see how this is impeding your marriage, because of what your mom and dad did. It's slowing you up.
Think about it from a few angles.
Think about how is this harmful person or act slowing up your emotional availability and energy? Take a minute and answer that question. How is it slowing up your emotional availability and energy? How is this harmful person or act slowing up or impeding the growth of your relationship with your spouse, with your kids, or with your friends, with your boss? And, how is it slowing your spiritual growth and development? So that's part one of Tip Six. d, how is this harmful act or person slowing you in your hopes, and goals, and dreams, and desires?
And then, in addition to that, what emotions and thoughts would you like to have instead?
Write them down.
How would you like to be different emotionally, or relationally, or spiritually? And, give yourself some room to just dream about what would I be?
So, it could be a thought of, "I've always thought I've been, sort of, a naughty, no-good person." And maybe, I'd like to change that thought to, "I work diligently 80 to 90% of my time to make wise decisions and use wise emotions. Mom's perspective of me is not accurate, because it's based in what mom experienced. It's not based in who I am. So, my perspective of me is based on who I am in God's eyes and others who know me for me now, and who affirmed me, and encouraged me. That's my perspective. That's what I'm going to take in. Instead of my mom's perspective, I'm going to take in perspective from God who loves me and knows me, and others who affirm and encourage me."
So that would be, "Mom's perspective slows up my own self growth. Knowing and growing into my own best self is more accurate, more true, and more freeing. I'm going to go there." 

And, that moves us on to Tip Number Seven. Remember we said the soil had to be soft. We have to pull this forgiveness, this resentment piece all the way out. And so now, we're flipping back up to that empathy and sympathy part. And you're going to move into having compassion for those who harmed you and have compassion for yourself.
This is not in the victim mentality way, in the ways that say, "I've been hurt, and so I'm always going to be hurt, and so you should cater to me because of my past." That would be a victim mentality, and that's not going to help you in the long run. But instead, in a healthy way, you have compassion for yourself that says, "Truthfully, I've been deeply hurt.
And truthfully, I am precious enough to become healed. I'm going to have a scar. Sure I am. But it's not going to mess up my everyday living." It's gonna be like Jan's three inch scar on her leg. She got it when she was in third grade. But you know it, nobody knows about it unless she says something. It doesn't stop her joy of running. It doesn't stop her snowboarding. It doesn't stop her sitting on the ground and playing with kids. It doesn't care if she kicks a soccer ball. It doesn't care if she water skis or snowboards. It doesn't impede anything. And, that's what we want and what you get as we have compassion for those who have harmed you and compassion for yourself. You’ll move to an acknowledgment of, "I've been hurt, and I can become healed."

And with that, we can move on to Tip Number Eight which says, "Move on."
Carefully, sometimes, watch the time that you spend jumping over into those memories and thoughts, and instead move into the thoughts and emotions that are good for you, and the good you can do for others. Now in the beginning of this tip you can use some of these lists that we've just made, some of the work you've done, you can pull information and direction from those. And, you can say, "Here are my thoughts and emotions that I want. And, here's how I can help others. Here's how I can help my kids." 

So if my thoughts are that I want to believe that I am a fine wife and mom with room for improvement. Then, that's one of the thoughts that I'm going to put up there. My emotion is going to be so I am going to be calm, cool, and collected. If my emotions are in trouble, I'm going to pause. Then, I'm going to move into I can help my kids and my family by staying thoughtful and present with them, and not inviting or allowing the past thoughts to bombard what I am doing in the present.
I might move on and say, "If those thoughts are just pressing in on me today, then my self care is going to be to: go and do some writing; to talk to a good friend for a few minutes; or lean into my spouse." And, together we might just say, "Okay, what are those other thoughts we're gonna go to?" And maybe, at least in my space, we might pray and just ask Jesus to take some of those burdens and continue to heal us.

That moves on to Tip Number Nine. Flashbacks happen. They invade the spaces where all of a sudden in the middle of something absolutely fine, there is a piece of the memory that just pulls you back in time, and you can hardly stay present with where you are.
Flashbacks are tough. Where and when  you can, take a minute, even if it is: running into the bathroom; pulling over on the side of the road; asking somebody else to watch your kids for a few minutes. Give yourself a minute to say, "This is what's happening."
In that pain, the flashback is not meant to harm you. It's often your brain saying, "I got something I want to show you in this picture this time," because you're healing. So, a flashback of a nighttime trauma might mean that you've been storing some really ugly thoughts about yourself or someone else. And, this flashback is in the daytime, because it's time to bring some of those uglier thoughts into the light and release them. You don't need them anymore.
And so, the flashback is in the moment overwhelming and distressing.
When we pause and say, "What is... why is this coming up now?" It's usually to show you something positive or optimistic that you are healing, and you can let go of this ugly thought. That you don't need that level of protection with vengeance anymore, because you've been thinking really solid, good, accurate thoughts about yourself, and your skills, and who and what your character is. And so, you don't need to be that revengeful anymore.
The two aren't matching up, so you can let go of three more degrees of revenge and live a little bit more into the freedom of being the upright mom person of integrity. 

Tip Number 10. I'm using these tips, more than steps, because we don't always do them in exactly these orders. And so, they are tips. They are not necessarily 1, 2, 3.
Do what you can in each one of them, and then, go back and do it again and fill them out a little more.
Maybe it's a page in your journal for each one of them, so you have time to keep on processing.

This is tip number 10. Realize that forgiving others is often a supernatural and spiritual experience or exercise. For my people and my friends who use a faith base in trying to work through their forgiveness, we often remind them that God can carry that burden. He can take it from you, so that you don't have to carry the resentment and the anger. God can do that, and He will. He knows how to help you forgive, because he forgives billions of people every day for all the things they do wrong that hurts his heart and his mind. He helps us release and get rid of the anger, the resentment, the bitterness, the shame, the confusion that comes when we've been deeply offended. And He says, "I would love to heal you. Now give me your pain."

Sometimes I think of this story. My husband had a hurt leg at one time, and it was filling up with coagulated blood, and goo, and gunk.  And, the doctor gave him a lot of credit for being really brave. The doctor took his hands, and he ran his hands from my husband's knee and from his ankle and pushed it up. And, he pushed that goo out and into a bucket. And, he did this over and over and over again. Pushing out the blood clots. Pushing out the goo and the pus. And, that's often what Jesus says, "Let me help you get rid of the goo, and the pus, and the ugly, blood clots that are slowing up how you're going to live. Because, I know how to do this."
I couldn't have done that to my husband's leg. I would have fainted. My husband couldn't do it in to his leg. He was in too much pain. The doctor could do it. And, that's what Jesus does. (He) says, "Come and let me help you get rid of the goo and the gunk, so that you can live well." My husband's leg is fine, because the doctor knew what he was doing. 

I'm not saying that any of this is easy. I am saying that often it's really necessary for healthy, fulfilled, naturally good living.
It's necessary, because people are going to hurt us. Maybe, back from childhood. Maybe within a family context. Maybe a boss. Maybe a neighbor. We're going to have our feelings and, sort of, our psyche, our identity bumped around. And, the way to return to a solid, confident space is to let go of those hurts and pains by forgiving. I'll never say this is easy work. I'm just saying it's necessary work.
And, I encourage you to take care of those hurts quickly with each other, with your kids, with other people around you. You are worth the work. So is your family. So is your marriage. I'm cheering for you.
This is one of those things where if you're really stuck with something, shoot me a short email at hello@ And, I will respond with a few other ideas to keep you moving, because this is important.
You know, I believe that we can be married forever while we parent together. Doing this work is a part of that.
So, thank you again for joining. Use this printable for your own health and for the health and the joy of others around you. We'll catch up again next week. 

Thanks again. Bye, bye.

Oh - almost forgot!  Be sure to post your Top Tip into our Facebook page to enter into the Top Tip Giveaway for our 100th podcast!  


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