Learning How to Forgive: Step 2 – Telling Your Story
Once you recognize the healing effect that forgiveness can have in your life and that revenge will not take your pain away, you are ready to take the next step in the forgiveness process. Step two is about telling your story to those you trust. You begin with what is inside of you right now. Most of us feel some very strong emotions and the need to for revenge may still be lurking not far behind. Tell your story as completely, and with as much depth and detail as possible. You may want to start with a review of your life and the circumstances that led up to the event. Talk about important relationships and whatever else is pertinent to provide a context within which the particular meaning of the event or events can be understood. Then give a detailed account, your response to it, and the responses of the important people in your life. If it is difficult to talk about it, write or draw your story. Drawing pictures can be tremendously healing in working through painful material. Tell your story as though you were watching a movie with as much vivid description as possible. What are you seeing, feeling, hearing, smelling, and thinking?
When you first tell your story, it may be incomplete. It is important to bring all the pieces together, including what you felt and the meaning of the event to you and to the people around you. Talk about the question of guilt and responsibility. This may help you later in reconstructing a system of belief that makes sense of undeserved suffering.
As you tell your story, some of you may feel a great deal of anxiety. This is when you stop and use relaxation techniques to help manage strong emotions. Once you feel in control, you can continue where you left off or return to it on another day.
For your journal exercise for Step Two write a script describing the event in detail. This description should include the context of the situation, facts, emotions, and meaning. If there were several events, develop a separate script for each one. Don’t be surprised if new memories are recovered as you explore old ones. Write down everything you feel about the situation and the person causing you pain. Allow a stream of consciousness to flow across the pages of your journal and spare nothing. Remember that this is your private journal for no one else to see. After you have written everything down, ask yourself, “If I were face to face with this person, what would I say?” Let out the anger and the hurt in what you write and keep on writing until there is nothing left to say.
Reflection: For this week’s forgiveness activity for Step Two reflect on these questions. Why did this situation happen to me? Why did this situation happen to the others included? Please share your thoughts on www.facebook.com/7steps to forgiveness, twitter @erborris or www.linkedin.com/in/dreileenborris
As always, I am interested in hearing about your experience and welcome all your comments, so please feel free to share your thoughts on this blog. I am looking forward to hearing from you.
For more information on learning how to forgive go to “Finding Forgiveness: A 7-Step Program for Letting Go of Anger and Bitterness” by Eileen R. Borris-Dunchunstang