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Forgiveness Letter

Writing a forgiveness letter engages your creativity. It helps you process and heal emotional pain. Writing a letter of forgiveness helps you to connect to your story, your feelings and express yourself. It is a proactive solution that can bring relief and reconnect you to new possibilities.

You can do this on your own and/or with the helping hand of a mental health care professional, trusted friend and/or spiritual advisor.

Stress relief tips for emotional pain and stress reduction

Let's shift. And reclaim your calm.

A self-care moment. Try this:

You will need:
Paper or a journal/notebook, a special piece of stationary.
Pen, pencil or a special writing utensil

A forgiveness letter is a letter for you. It helps you let go and move into forgiveness. It can be a private letter, not meant for anyone else, or it can be something you share. As stated before, working together the helping hand of a trusted person is recommended if you wish to share the letter.

A letter of forgiveness is a private letter - not meant for anyone else. It is an opportunity to write your story and express your feelings to help you in your unique journey of forgiveness.

You can write the letter any way you choose. Let yourself go. Let the words flow. You can edit the letter later if that useful for you. The point in writing a forgiveness letter is to:

  • Address the person who harmed who or address the self-awareness that you have caused harm
  • Share your story: how were you impacted by his/her actions or by your own actions?
  • Share what you've learned, how you have grown
  • Describe how it has cultivated resilience in you

Here is how you do it:

Begin by addressing the letter to the person who has caused you harm. Then write your story. Here are some guidelines to help you with the content.

1. Address it to the person who caused you harm. Who do you want to forgive?

2. State the reason(s) why you are writing a forgiveness letter. What are the reasons you want to forgive?

3. Think of what you do well. What strengths and talents do have that will help you to forgive?

4. Share what it has cost you by not forgiving. How has being unforgiving affected you?

5. Share how you will benefit by forgiving. What are the benefits of forgiveness to you?

6. How will you forgive? What proactive steps will you take to feel forgiving?

7. Finish the letter with addressing the person and stating: "Dear John/Jane, I forgive you because . . ."

A letter of forgiveness is one of the steps to forgiveness. And there are many. Click on these links for further information on the importance of forgiveness.

On the forgiveness exercises page, you find more useful steps. In a definition of forgiveness you'll find historical references. In a prayer for forgiveness, you'll find prayers. And thoughts on self-forgiveness may encourage you to open in self-compassion and new possibilities. Remember: small steps create big effects.

Resources:
Ingram, Rick E; Snyder, C R. "Blending the Good With the Bad: Integrating Positive Psychology and Cognitive Psychotherapy." Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy. Springer Publishing Company. 2006.
Nelson, Mariah Burton. "The Freedom of Self-Forgiveness." The Washington Post. Washington Post, March 14, 2000.
Seligman, M., & Peterson, C. (2004). Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification. New York: APA and Oxford University Press.

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