I consider myself to be a nice person. I spend a lot of my life - giving to others and teaching positive life skills. However, what I like about myself sometimes makes it hard for me to accept other people when they are inconsiderate, selfish and downright hurtful towards others. You see I have a lot of rules about the way people should treat each other and these rules, when I am not living consciously, make my life harder than it needs to be because I have no control over other people's behaviour. As a way of remaining conscious and making my own life easier, I have established the habit of forgiving daily and I generally do this each night just before I go to sleep. This simple habit has made my life so much easier.

Now it's very easy to tell someone else to forgive, and there is no denying that it's hard to do when you have been really hurt or betrayed. But the fact is that forgiveness is never ever about the other person-it is only ever about you. You may be right, your anger may be justified, someone may have done something to you that you feel is unforgivable, but holding onto those feelings only hurts you and gives the other person power over you.

A study on forgiveness, carried out in 2006, showed the influence that forgiveness had on emotionally abused women.  The findings showed women undergoing forgiveness therapy experienced significantly greater improvements in feelings of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress and improved self-esteem. Another study which researched the benefits of mindfulness and forgiveness in reducing stress found that the when meditation was combined with forgiveness the participants experienced less stress.

Forgiveness is never about the other person; it is always about you.  The Hawaiians have a code of forgiveness, which they call Ho'oponopono, which means to make right. The teachers of this method believe that when we forgive others, we forgive ourselves, and that empowers us. Now you may think that you don't have anything to forgive yourself for but think about it. You may need to forgive yourself for staying so long in a relationship, for allowing another person to treat you the way they did. You may need to forgive yourself for not speaking up, or taking action sooner, for missing the signs, for allowing someone else's needs to be more important than your own. 

Listed below are some of the things that forgiveness is and is not. Forgiveness:

Can be a decision to let go of the desire for revenge.

Is not the same as condoning or reconciliation.

Is not about forgetting or making excuses.

Is not about trusting people who have proven themselves to be untrustworthy.

Forgiveness is always about self-empowerment. All you need to do to forgive is to be willing, that is the first step, even when you don't feel you can forgive.

This is my version of the Ho'oponopono technique.

  1. Bring to mind anyone with whom you feel annoyed, hurt, angry or irritated. 
  2. In your mind's eye, imagine a white light, which is a source of love, flowing down through the crown of your head and exiting through your heart and surrounding the person/people you need to forgive.  Include yourself in this white light as well. 
  3. Silent state to yourself 'I forgive you'. If you find that too difficult, say, "I am willing to forgive you". 
  4. Then imagine a huge weight dropping off your shoulders as you let go.

I have used this exercise myself and taught it to so many of my clients and it always works. When you surround people in love even the most hostile change the way they treat you. Continue this exercise daily until you can think about the other person without any feelings of anger, irritation, annoyance or hurt. This simple exercise helps you to let go of the past so that you can love the life you live today.


Anne Hartley is a life coach and author of several books.  She trains life coaches in her unique Heart Process via teleconferencing. If you would like to receive her free newsletter you can visit Anne's website at http://www.hartlifecoaching.com.au or write to Anne at hart@hartlifecoaching.com.au

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Comment by Trevor Taylor on May 19, 2014 at 5:50am

Thank you Anne - recommended to the publishers for inclusion in one of the forthcoming multi-media editions of OM Times

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