The Ritual of Forgiveness

To benefit from the information contained within this website to create a second chance you have to believe you deserve peace of mind and a more enjoyable lifestyle. If you don’t then you likely have a “mental block” or an inner directed grudge preventing you from acting in your self interest.

I’ve treated many people over the years who have condemned themselves for something they’ve done in the past. The conversation usually goes like this, “I did or didn’t do X and something terrible happened.” I may point out that X may have been illegal or something a person wouldn’t normally be expected to do but this approach doesn’t usually change his or her feelings. (I sometimes point out that if they had killed someone so long ago they’d be out of jail by now!)

What often helps is a Ritual of Forgiveness that places a symbolic punctuation mark in time just as graduations, weddings and other formal celebrations do. A chapter opens as one closes.

In a quiet and peaceful setting write a letter to yourself at the age of the incident(s). Outline the events that led to your actions. Imagine yourself as you appeared then and show genuine compassion, empathy and sympathy toward the younger person you once were. Vow to forgive yourself and strive to become a better person from this point on.

When you’ve written as much as you can, burn the letter in a safe fashion using a fireplace, campfire, or kitchen sink etc. From then on, whenever you beat your self up for what happened think of the burning document and say, “I forgave myself and am trying to be a better person.” Then act in some positive fashion toward your goals. Do this every time the memory(s) arises in your mind. In the least, this will take the edge off your self-condemnation and allow you to plan and progress toward a more pleasant future.

Example of a forgiveness letter.