Definitions Ponderings

How Does Radical Forgiveness Work?

 Ordinary forgiveness is ‘letting bygones be bygones’. A certain willingness to forgive is implied but the belief something wrong happened is never questioned. “You did that to me, but I’ll let you off the hook and forgive you.”

Research based at Seattle University, WA showed that ordinary forgiveness:

(a) is universally difficult.

(b) takes a long time – typically years. (Success was defined as finally feeling peaceful about the situation.)

(c) The more people tried to ‘will’ forgiveness, the longer it took.

(d) Most people required extensive therapy before any movement occurred at all.

Radical Forgiveness, on the other hand, has none of these difficulties. It can be virtually instantaneous; it is easy to do; it requires no therapy and very little intelligence beyond being able to follow some very simple steps.

Holding on to the belief that ‘a crime’ has occurred while trying to forgive gives traditional forgiveness the quality of an oxymoron. How can you can possibly forgive if you are invested in that judgment? No wonder it takes years! Qualities of compassion, humility and tolerance move us towards it, but they do not, in my view, constitute forgiveness itself. So when it does finally occur maybe time has simply worn down our attachment to our judgments. When we say “time heals” perhaps we are recognizing that we will someday simply become weary of holding on. But oh, what a struggle!

Radical Forgiveness, on the other hand, is easy and instantaneous because it is a shift in perception that allows you to understand that, in truth, looked at from the perspective of the spiritual ‘big picture,’ nothing wrong ever happened.

What brings about such a radical shift in perception – especially in situations where one feels very victimized and hurt? Surprisingly, it requires only a willingness to accept the possibility that life is not simply a series of random and haphazard events but is, in fact, the unfolding of a Divine plan that is unfolding for us exactly how it needs to unfold for our spiritual growth. In other words, every event, however pleasant or unpleasant, has been called forth by a Higher Aspect of ourselves that knows exactly what we need for our own healing. When we live more out of that idea than the victim story, life begins to work perfectly.

So how do we get there? Well, lack of forgiveness is nothing more than stuck energy, caused by past judgments, criticisms, blame and resentments. The way forward is use tools or processes that help us release that stuck energy, raise our vibration and become the loving beings we have the potential to be.


1. Tell the Story

You must begin from where you are. You are a spiritual being having a human experience that involves emotional experiences. We make it up that emotions are undesirable and wrong, so when we get upset about something we make up a ‘victim’s story’ and blame others for our unhappiness. Having that story heard and witnessed is the first step to letting it go. Likewise, the first step in releasing victimhood is to own it fully. So, in this step, you tell your story, and it is honored as your truth in the moment.

2. Feel the Feelings

Here you are encouraged to feel the feelings. It is the vital step that many so-called spiritual people want to leave out thinking that they shouldn’t have ‘negative’ feelings. That’s denial and misses the crucial point that the feelings is where the authentic power is and that our strength, in fact, lies in our vulnerability and our willingness to show up as fully human. You cannot heal what you don’t feel. When people access their pain, this is the beginning of their healing.

But this is not necessarily digging up the past. In fact, doing so is not necessary at all. Whatever is upsetting you now represents the past and following the feelings (the energy), as they are occurring while you tell your story, automatically heals the past pain. It is not even necessary to know what the original pain was. That’s why I say that Radical Forgiveness requires no therapy.

3. Collapse the Story

This takes the power out of the victim story you made up. The Navajo Indians had a ceremony for doing this. Anyone with a grievance could come to the circle three times to tell their story, and they would be heard. On the fourth occasion everyone would turn their backs. “Enough already! Your story is just a story. There’s no real truth to it – it is just an illusion. We have heard it three times and we no longer wish to give it power. Let it go and then let yourself move towards what is really true.”

4. Do a Radical Forgiveness Reframe

Here we replace the ‘illusionary’ story with another story – the Radical Forgiveness ‘story.’ This one says that what appeared to have happened, far from being a tragedy, was in fact exactly what we wanted to experience and was in that sense, absolutely perfect.

This is often very difficult to accept, but the good thing is it does not require you see WHY it is perfect, or that you must GET the lesson involved. It is nearly always beyond our ability to comprehend anyway, so it’s a waste of time trying to figure it out. Willingness is all that is required.  You just have to be willing to open to the idea that there is a gift in it somewhere, and then choose peace. It really is that simple. When we get used to thinking this way, it’s amazing how simple and easy life becomes. It’s so freeing to stop resisting (judging) life and surrender to what wants to naturally occur. Life with Radical Forgiveness can be very sweet.

5. Integration

After you have allowed yourself to be willing to see the perfection in the situation, it is necessary to integrate that change at the cellular level. That means integrating it into the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual bodies so it becomes a part of who you are. It’s like saving what you have done on the computer to the hard drive. Only then will it become permanent.

 I find that breath work is the best way to integrate this work. Other ways to integrate is through speaking affirmations, walking, doing forgiveness worksheets, ritual and ceremony.

Radical Forgiveness is the only real forgiveness. It is simple, quick and brings immediate relief. This forgiveness is permanent and when one has integrated it well enough into everyday life for it to become a way of life, life becomes infinitely less stressful, more peaceful and a whole lot happier.

Come on… try it…. it may be easier than you think.  Traditional forgiveness doesn’t always work for me… I end up feeling resentful – particularly when I am not the one who caused it… yes, folks, sometimes I really don’t cause havoc….

So now… let’s get some much needed coffee….

2 thoughts on “How Does Radical Forgiveness Work?”

  1. YES YES YES!!!!! YES!!!

    Thank you Diane! Not only have I been doing this for some time but man alive is this blog perfect timing!


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