Cover image for Five steps to forgiveness : the art and science of forgiving
Five steps to forgiveness : the art and science of forgiving
Worthington, Everett L., Jr., 1946-
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Crown, [2001]

Physical Description:
x, 277 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BF637.F67 W67 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
BF637.F67 W67 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Can you find it in your heart to forgive? You've been wronged, but you want to do the right thing. You want to be free of the burden of a bitter grudge that weighs you down during the day and keeps you up at night. You're wasting time and energy ruminating, railing, perhaps even plotting revenge. You're sick and tired of being a victim, but you feel stuck. You're not alone. Hundreds of thousands of people are victimized by crime and violence every year, devastated by downsizing at work, or reeling from relationship betrayals, breakups, and other social traumas. The good news is that no matter what your injury, clinical psychologist and researcher Dr. Everett Worthington has found that there is a way to unburden yourself through forgiveness and move ahead with life. His new program, Five Steps to Forgiveness, offers step-by-step advice on how to achieve this breakthrough. Based on more than a decade of research, including his own work and that of dozens of psychologists investigating the scientific benefits of forgiveness, Dr. Worthington has distilled the REACH plan: Recall the hurt; Empathize with the one who hurt you; Altruistically decide to forgive; Commit publicly to forgiveness; and Hold on to that forgiveness. Dr. Worthington offers simple, clear advice for putting the program to work in your own life and dozens of examples of how others have used it to forgive. Sometimes you'll want to do more than forgive--you'll need to reconcile with the other person, perhaps because you need to continue to work together, share custody of a child, or have another ongoing relationship. Dr. Worthington also takes you plank-by-plank over the bridge of reconciliation. Studies and clinical practice have demonstrated the effectiveness of the REACH program. Dr. Worthington faced the ultimate test, however, when his mother was brutally murdered in l995. Using the paradigm he had taught so successfully to hundreds of people, he used the REACH program to forgive his own mother's murderer. In Five Steps to Forgiveness, Dr. Worthington shares his proven program, the latest research, his own compelling story, and a wealth of wisdom from the experiences of those he has helped to enable you to attain the hope, health, and happiness forgiveness brings.

Author Notes

He is professor and chair of psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University. He is executive director of A Campaign for Forgiveness Research, which in collaboration with the John Templeton Foundation, has raised funding for more than 35 research projects studying forgiveness. He is an active leader in secular and Christian counseling fields, and has appeared on CNN, as well as God Morning America, and other national shows. He lives in Richmond, Virginia.

(Publisher Provided)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

The author's mother was murdered, yet he somehow managed to forgive the killer. The reader's first question is bound to be: Why would he forgive such a horrible act? The author answers the question in the introduction. Foremost among the reasons he cites is to break the cycle of anger. Then he presents the five steps to forgiveness, which he clearly explains, supplying helpful keys to achieving each step and for moving on to the next level. Examples buttress the author's point that it is possible to forgive what seems unforgivable. The second part of the book is about reconciliation, which is what allows people to go beyond forgiveness. Worthington recognizes that there are reasons why reconciliation may not be possible or even desirable; but for those who want to reconnect a broken relationship or repair one, reconciliation is the key. Marlene Chamberlain

Publisher's Weekly Review

Those trying to recover after being the victim of a crime, divorce, layoff or other upset will find solace in Five Steps to Forgiveness: The Art and Science of Forgiving by Everett Worthington. The author suggests a gentle but realistic plan for achieving forgiveness, which he calls the REACH program: Recall the hurt, Empathize with the one who hurt you, Altruistically decide to forgive, Commit publicly to forgiveness and Hold on to the forgiveness. He brings a personal note to his coaching by sharing the story of how he dealt with his mother's murder. (Oct. 23) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



CHAPTER 1 Laying the Foundation We talk a good forgiving line as long as somebody else needs to do it, but few of us have the heart for it while we are dangling from one end of a bond broken by somebody else's cruelty. -- LEWIS B. SMEDES Unforgiveness is a jumble of emotions. Resentment, hostility, hatred, bitterness, simmering anger, and low-level fear interlace in the tapestry of unforgiveness. Unforgiving emotions are not "hot"(i.e., immediate) reactions to a transgression. They are ignited by the spark of perceived hurt or offense, fanned by the hot emotions of anger and fear, damped to a slow burn by time, and scuffed into a stack of dangerous coals by rumination. Unforgiveness is emotion served "cold" (i.e., delayed). But like dry ice, which can burn the fingers, unforgiveness can still scorch the gut. Unforgiveness motivates people to get rid of those unpleasant emotions . ... Rob was unforgiving. When I met him, he was wearing a shirt picturing a flaming city against a black background. The caption read Rage Against the Machine (the name of a rock band known for its angry protests against social injustices). Rob had recently been released from his drug rehabilitation program. Living on the street in the Northeast, he had paid for his drug habit by borrowing until his friends ran out, begging until his patience ran out, and bartering until the stolen goods ran out. With the approach of winter, he scraped up enough money for a bus ticket and headed south. Picked up for vagrancy and drug intoxication in Florida, he had served his time and then headed for a rehabilitation center. Rob was twenty years old. Rob blamed a lot of people for his troubles. He blamed his father, who had kicked him out after Rob struck his mother during an argument that broke out when Rob came home high on drugs. Rob blamed his high school love, who had introduced him to the party scene. He blamed his college philosophy professor, who preached hedonism. Mostly, Rob blamed his "quote friends unquote" who took him in after his father had rejected him, bled him of everything he owned, then turned him out on the street. Rob could name the transgressions against him with ease. He perceived each transgression mostly as a personal offense by "the bastards." His dominant emotion was anger, with a subtheme of hurt and fear etching a whine into his complaints. Rob ruminated continually on his situation. He complained. He ranted. He mumbled about "the bastards" to himself and to anyone who would listen (and some who would not listen). Rob was a poster boy for unforgiveness. Unforgiveness is defined as delayed emotions involving resentment, bitterness, residual anger, residual fear, hatred, hostility, and stress, which motivate people to reduce the unforgiveness. There are two important parts to this definition: Unforgiveness is an emotion, and unforgiveness motivates people to get rid of or avoid negative emotion. Let's consider each. Unforgiveness Is an Emotion Rumination, the process of reflection on what's hurt us, changes the hot emotions of fear and anger into cold emotions of unforgiveness. The key to this model, and to my description of how you might forgive, is my understanding of emotion. Emotions are not feelings. Feelings are the ways we label emotions in a part of the brain called the working memory. We say, "I feel angry," or "I feel loving." That feeling is our conscious mind's way of using a word to describe what is going on all over our body and is being communicated to the brain. Emotions are embodied experiences. Antonio Damasio, perhaps the leading expert on emotion in the world, has studied them for years. When we experience an emotion, each part of our body tells the brain precisely what emotion we are experiencing by sending either chemical messengers through the blood or chemical and electrical messengers through the nervous system. These messengers activate the memories of past emotions into the part of our brain called the association cortex, located in our prefrontal lobe. The pathways from these associations are fed into the working memory. As the messengers travel through our nervous system, electric currents rush along neurons through brain structures such as the amygdala and hippocampus saying, "This path means ' I'm afraid,'" or "This path means 'I am happy.'" Neurochemicals squirt into some portions of the brain when we are sad and other portions when we are angry, afraid, or happy. The patterns of neurochemical release tell our working memory about our emotions. As the messengers travel through the bloodstream, they cause the release of hormones. One mixture tells the working memory we are angry. Another mixture tells the working memory we are afraid. Our muscles get into the act. When we are angry, we clench our fists, hunch our shoulders, and grind our teeth. When we are afraid, we widen our eyes, draw backward, and inhale. When we are calm, our face relaxes or smiles. Those muscles also send messages to the working memory. Even our gut sends unconscious messages to the working memory. Damasio has found that the gut shouts an alarm over a risky decision long before the brain can figure out the message consciously.2 Our working memory is a supercomputer that listens to the body and decodes its many chemical and electrical messages, coming up with a feeling. "I feel angry," we might say. Because emotions are whole-body experiences, they often blend if they are relatively similar. For instance, anger, fear, and sadness are all perceived negatively, especially if they are experienced intensely. Joy, happiness, and satisfaction are also relatively similar and are perceived positively. Similar emotions can blend with each other, forming a secondary, more complex emotion. For instance, the negative emotions of resentment, bitterness, hatred, hostility, anger, fear, and stress blend into the feeling people label "unforgiveness." However, when emotional states are very different, they don’t blend. They compete. For instance, when our facial muscles are set in a grimace of anger, that grimace edges out a soft smile of happiness and peace or even a frown of distress. The patterns of hormones in the blood or neurochemicals in the brain also compete. Different emotions light up different pathways and structures in the brain. For instance, try this experiment. Look in the mirror and make a face that might show you are angry. Then look afraid. Now try to look angry and afraid at the same time. With effort, you can make the two negative emotions blend on your face. Now do this. Look angry. Then look happy. Try to put them together. Your face simply will not cooperate. The brain will get only one signal at a time. Perhaps you could confuse your brain by switching rapidly from anger to happiness, but with naturally occurring emotions, fooling the brain would be no easy task. Thought processes can change quickly, but hormones dumped into the blood or neurotransmitters squirted into the brain respond more slowly. That is why we can be in a sad mood and laugh at a joke but return immediately to feeling sad. Unforgiveness Motivates Us to Get Rid of Negative Emotion Unforgiveness is a hot potato. People try to pass it on as soon as they can. All negative emotions are unpleasant, especially when they are intense. We usually like to get rid of those feelings quickly. Sometimes our goal is simply to get rid of the unpleasant feelings, other times it's to radically change from negative to positive emotions. Perhaps one of the strongest examples of this can be seen in the case of parents needing to forgive their children. Njeri was an educator and often spoke to PTAs and groups of parents on parenting. She was also the single parent of Rashid. Rashid obviously had a mind of his own. He was flunking sixth grade and often got in trouble with his teachers. One month earlier, he had been caught breaking windows at the school at night. Njeri knew that her reputation as an educator and trainer of parents was irreparably damaged by Rashid's willfulness. She felt like a failure at parenting. She had tried the hard line. She had taken away Rashid's privileges, restricted television, and monitored his friends. Still he acted out. She knew he now would have to face the juvenile authorities, and it wasn't just he who was on trial. Her parenting was going to be judged as well. Over the month, Njeri's resentment had grown. She sometimes thought, I hate that boy. She was aware that her negativity was pushing him further into deviance. If things were going to turn around, she would have to do something drastic. Njeri instinctively knew that she needed new emotions. She didn't want merely to reduce her anger toward Rashid. She wanted to feel more compassion and love for him, not just less rage. She needed to forgive him so that they could start afresh and rebuild their mutual love. Eventually, she was able to forgive Rashid and develop a more positive attitude. Rashid did not respond immediately, but he finally changed his group of friends and moved away from the troubled path he had been following. People Reduce Unforgiveness in Many Ways Most people think of forgiveness as "the way you reduce unforgiveness." But there are many ways people reduce unforgiveness that have nothing to do with forgiveness. To take a trivial example, I could reduce my unforgiveness through successful revenge. Suppose I was walking out of my office holding my ever-present cup of coffee in my forever-coffee-cup-molded right hand. A mysterious stranger bumps into me, spilling coffee on my favorite 1970s pink-with-polka-dots power tie. After an initial burst of anger, I seethe with the lust for revenge. Donning my genuine Arnold Schwarzenegger Terminator trench coat, complete with an arsenal of weaponry that would make any National Rifle Association member envious, I track down the mysterious stranger and blow him away. My unforgiveness would have been reduced, perhaps eliminated, by successful revenge. Of course, I would never recommend revenge. I's like overeating. It might feel good while you're doing it, but it will give you a sour stomach in the morning and health problems if it becomes habitual. We can use many other methods to reduce unforgiveness. Seeing justice done can reduce unforgiveness. In the movie made from Sister Helen Prejean's book Dead Man Walking, the murderer is about to be put to death by lethal injection. He faces the parents of the two youths he killed. To one father he says, "I hope that seeing my death will give you peace." He instinctively knew that seeing justice done would reduce the grieving father's unforgiveness, but not necessarily lead to forgiveness. People can also reduce unforgiveness by telling a different story about the transgression or transgressor. "He was just under stress" might excuse the transgression. "I was rude to her, so I deserved what she said" might justify it. Excusing or justifying a slight will reduce the storyteller's unforgiveness. People can reduce unforgiveness by forbearing or simply accepting a transgression. "What's done is done," a person might say. "I'm just going to accept it and move on with my life." Sometimes our best course of reducing unforgiveness is seeking justice. At other times, we tell a different story or simply accept the injustice. Sometimes, though, we want to do more than simply reduce the negative emotions. We want to replace them with more positive emotions. That is where forgiveness enters the picture. Forgiveness Is Emotional Replacement Forgiveness is defined as the emotional replacement of (1) hot emotions of anger or fear that follow a perceived hurt or offense, or (2) unforgiveness that follows ruminating about the transgression, by substituting positive emotions such as unselfish love, empathy, compassion, or even romantic love. If these positive emotions are strong enough and last long enough, they "contaminate" the unforgiveness so that it can never be experienced in the same way again. Emotional "replacement" has occurred. We experience forgiveness. Forgiveness is defined as the emotional replacement of (1) hot emotions of anger or fear that follow a perceived hurt or offense, or (2) unforgiveness that follows ruminating about the transgression, by substituting positive emotions such as unselfish love, empathy, compassion, or even romantic love. It is important to understand what I mean by emotional replacement. Our hurtful memories are not really wiped out. We almost never really forget serious hurts or offenses. We remember them differently after we forgive. Hate, bitterness, and resentment are replaced with positive thoughts and feelings. The memory of the hurt remains, but it is associated with different emotions. Amity is substituted for enmity. There are two ways to eliminate unforgiveness. First, you could chip away at it by replacing a little unforgiveness with a little forgiveness over hundreds of experiences. Second, you could whack unforgiveness with a giant dose of empathy, sympathy, compassion, or love and simply overwhelm it. (One woman I know reponds to perceived slights by sending the transgressor a "love bomb," which blows her bad feelings to bits -- a vivid way of describing how positive emotion can disarm hurt feelings.) Forgiving emotions motivate us to attempt conciliation or reconciliation -- and sometimes it is a big if -- it is safe, prudent, and possible to reconcile. Reconciliation is reestablishing trust in a relationship after trust has been violated. Reconciliation is reestablishing trust in a relationship after trust has been violated. Note that forgiveness does not erase a transgression. It does not change the nature of the transgression to somehow turn a wrong into a right. When we forgive, we change the emotional attachments to the transgression. That reduces negative emotions and increases positive emotions. How Emotional Replacement Works I have stated briefly how emotional replacement works. Let me be more explicit. Emotional replacement is possible because emotions are embodied experiences involving those gut feelings, rushes of hormones, muscle contractions, facial expressions, brain pathways, neurotransmitter patterns, memories, and associations that I described earlier. Our working memory sorts out the messages from our body. Basically, we are simple-minded. When we think about a transgression, our body sends messages to the working memory. Our brain detects our hormones. Are those hormones the ones associated with resentment, bitterness, hostility, and hatred? Or are they compatible with empathy, sympathy, compassion, and love? Are our muscle contractions, facial expressions, and other physical indications more like unforgiveness or forgiveness? The working memory struggles for, and arrives at, a label for our feelings. If all the signs translate into negative emotions, we think, Ah, I must be unforgiving, even if we don't consciously use that term. Here's how replacement occurs. If we can think of or picture the transgression again, but this time while experiencing strong forgiving emotions, the positive overpowers the negative. The forgiving emotions attach to the memory. We conclude, "I forgive the one who hurt me." The attached forgiveness won't let you experience unforgiveness in the same way again -- unless you have another negative experience or allow yourself to ruminate about the old transgression. Here's Looking at You, Kid A good example comes from the classic movie Casablanca . Rick (Humphrey Bogart) and Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman) were once lovers. Then Ilsa found out that her husband, Victor Laszlo, whom she thought was dead, was still alive. Ilsa loved Rick, not Victor, but she felt duty-bound to return to Victor. So she left Rick at the train station. Jilted. Rejected. Rick nursed his grudge. Later Ilsa and Victor walked into Rick's club in Casablanca hoping to escape the Nazis. Rick held the only two letters of transit out of Casablanca. His unforgiveness was fierce. He lusted for revenge. However, his romantic love for Ilsa was rekindled. It eventually subdued his unforgiveness, and in the end, he let Ilsa and Victor escape into the fog with the two letters while he stayed in Casablanca to fight the Nazis. We see step by step how Rick's emotional replacement evolves. And it's the stuff of great cinema. Forgiveness occurs by emotional replacement of the emotions of unforgiveness -- either by chipping away at them or by replacing them all at once in a corrective emotional experience. That is the foundation on which the structure of how to forgive will be erected. You've Got Male (and Female) Because the idea of emotional replacement is so important, let me give you another brief example of how forgiving replaces unforgiveness. I will use romantic love as the positive emotion because in real-life romantic relationships and marriages, reexperiencing romantic love is often the key to defeating unforgiveness. The movie You've Got Mail played forgiveness in an electronic key. Tom Hanks portrayed Joe Fox, owner of a chain of giant bookstores. Meg Ryan's character was the owner of a small family-run bookstore. Hanks drove Ryan out of business. "It's nothing personal," he said. But to Ryan, it was nothing but personal. She felt offended, wronged, and hurt. She became unforgiving. Meanwhile Ryan and Hanks developed a relationship via e-mail -- corresponding with each other using pseudonyms. Neither knew the name behind the pseudonym. Hanks discovered Ryan's true identity first, but continued to hide his own. Their love grew as they got to know each other both via e-mail (still using pseudonyms) and through personal interaction (in which Hanks tried to win over an unsuspecting Ryan). But Ryan's unforgiveness was still stronger than her love. In the climactic scene, she discovered that Hanks was the same person she had come to know and love through e-mail. That extra amount of affection melted her heart. "I wanted it to be you,â" she said. It took a long time, but when the feelings of love overpowered the feelings of unforgiveness, Meg Ryan forgave and things changed dramatically. Forgiveness was like flipping a light switch from off to on. Her heart lit up. Forgiveness is kicking down the Berlin Wall, chipping away at it hammer blow by hammer blow or blowing it suddenly apart. When the wall is breached, people can run through the holes into freedom. Forgiveness Is Not Just . . . I have made the case that forgiveness is an emotional experience. There are many other ways people understand it. Some people think of forgiveness as merely an act of the will. They think, I must grit my teeth and forgive because it is the right thing to do. If I can will myself to forgive, then forgiving thoughts and forgiving emotions and behaviors will follow naturally. I agree that sometimes forgiving involves effort and will. They empower us to forgive, but they are not forgiveness. Still other people believe that forgiveness is a mental activity. They think that changing one's view of the situation, thinking differently about the person, or coming to understand the meaning of the situation differently will result in different emotions and different behaviors. True, forgiveness often is instigated when we break out of old thought ruts. However, sometimes we forgive and only later does a new understanding occur. Other people believe that forgiveness is an action. They believe that if we act forgiving toward a person, our changed behavior will result in changed thoughts and emotions. Sometimes changing my behavior can result in experiencing forgiveness. Sometimes my soft action can make it easier to forgive. I argue -- I hope convincingly -- that you cannot experience true forgiveness until you change your emotions. If people change their will, thought, or actions to be more forgiving, it will not bring about forgiveness until their emotions change. The Pyramid Model to REACH Forgiveness is rooted in replacing negative emotions associated with anger, fear, and unforgiveness with positive emotions associated with empathy (and perhaps sympathy, love, compassion, or even romantic love). It helps people REACH forgiveness in five steps. Overview of the Pyramid Model to REACH Forgiveness First, to get a bird's-eye view, walk with me up the pyramid. The steps spell out the acrostic REACH. Recall the hurt (R). When we are hurt, we often try to protect ourselves by denying our hurt. To heal, we must recall the hurt as objectively as possible. Don't rail against the person who hurt you, expend fruitless effort in finger wagging, waste time wishing for an apology that will never be offered, or dwell on your victimization. Instead, simply admit that a wrong was done to you. Empathize (E) . Empathy is seeing things from another person's point of view. To forgive, try to feel the transgressor's feelings. Offer the altruistic gift of forgiveness (A) . Have you ever harmed or offended a friend, parent, or partner who later forgave you? Think about your guilt. Then consider the way you felt when you were forgiven. When you think long and hard about this, you might be willing to be selfless and give the gift of forgiveness to those who have hurt you. Commit publicly to forgive (C) . If you make your forgiveness public, you are less likely to doubt it later. Tell a friend, partner, or counselor that you have forgiven the person who hurt you. Hold on to forgiveness (H) . When you doubt whether you have forgiven, there are many ways to stop forgiveness from sliding back into anger, hurt, or thoughts of vengeance. Putting the Pyramid Model into Practice Knowing that you must take five steps to forgive is not the same as knowing how to take those steps. Sometimes we feel like Lilliputians trying to match Gulliver's giant strides. Forgiving seems impossible. However, in my research over the years, my colleagues and I have been able to help people take those giant steps by having them approach forgiveness in a measured, gradual way. Forgiving seems impossible. However, in my research over the years, my colleagues and I have been able to help people take those giant steps by having them approach forgiveness in a measured, gradual way. You will forgive best if you identify specific people whom you might wish to forgive. Then you must practice trying to forgive each one. Apply the five steps to one person at a time. Think through your life and identify some people you want to forgive. People Who Might Need Your Forgiveness Transgressions can occur in almost any setting, but some settings seem to invite transgressions. See whether you can find people you need to forgive in these settings. Romantic relationships put our egos on the line. We leave ourselves open to betrayal when we invest our love in another fallible human. Failed dating relationships, terminated cohabitation, and divorces provide much fuel for the fires of unforgiveness. Is there a romantic partner you want to forgive? Note some specific transgressions. Families of origin influence us. Disappointments, hurts, misunderstandings, and simple cruelty may show up in both parents and children. Siblings often compete and quarrel. Children smolder over the long-ago hurts inflicted by parents. Families divide over contested wills. The family is a crucible for pounding out differences and a natural laboratory in which both forgiveness and reconciliation can be practiced. Are there incidents from your family history that still rankle? Write some notes. In the workplace, time is spent in ego-involving tasks. Promotions, wages, and salaries can be used to prove you worthy or unworthy. Interactions with bosses or subordinates can value or devalue you. Scarce resources and power differentials set the stage for hurt feelings. Have you been transgressed against in the workplace? Health care settings provide opportunities to forgive. The Institute of Medicine estimates that between 44,000 and 98,000 medical errors are made each year that lead to the death of a patient. Less fatal mishaps are even more common. Have you or has a loved one been a victim of a medical error? Has an arrogant physician, nurse, or health administrator demeaned you? Perhaps you have run up against the justice system. Crimes against property and people usually result in drawn-out litigation. They usually end in plea bargains or settlements. Wronged parties' hard feelings often persist for years. Wrongdoers feel unfairly judged. Litigants do not believe they received a fair deal in property disputes. Arguments can be heated and hurtful. Every viewer of Judge Judy or Judge Wapner knows that. Have you experienced shortcomings of the justice system? At the end of life, people try to make sense of their lives. They hate to leave the world with grudges. Forgiveness is a way to bring peace to their spirit. Reconciliation can bring peace to their relationships. Are you nearing the end of life? Whom do you want to forgive? As the world becomes globally connected, we recognize how much our own context affects our understanding of others. In high school, the jocks don't hang out with the grunge crowd or the preps. Heavy metal clashes with hip-hop. The roots of ethnic and class conflict are often sewn in the wardrobe of in-groups and out-groups. Adult political groups play for higher stakes, such as taxes, political influence, or even ethnic cleansing. Unforgiveness can run wild in ethnic conflict. Failed forgiveness can flow like blood. Have you been hurt, offended, or discriminated against for your ethnicity, religion, age, sexual orientation, or gender? Who did it? Three Questions You have considered several areas in which you might harbor unforgiveness. Perhaps you have recalled several specific incidents that you want to try to forgive. For each incident, ask yourself these questions. First, how serious is the transgression? Small transgressions annoy us. Large ones can turn our world upside down. Put off trying to forgive the ones that upset the world until you have gained confidence with smaller hurts. How raw is the wound? Don't choose to heal a wound while the blood is still wet. Is the person you want to forgive absent from or present in your life? In an ongoing relationship, the offending person will react to what you do. He or she can deliberately or accidentally hurt you again, which can compound the unforgiveness. Part 1 of the book will guide you in forgiving absent people. In Part 2, we will consider how to talk about transgressions and perhaps reconcile. Think of at least four particular people whom you might practice forgiving as you read this book. For example, choose an absent person who inflicted only a few small hurts and whom you have already largely forgiven. That might be a schoolteacher who once said something to embarrass you. Perhaps you resented his or her remark for a while but have since forgiven most of the hurt. Only a thimbleful of unforgiveness remains. Next, choose a second absent person who inflicted more severe wounds. Perhaps you have not yet forgiven that person. At the other end of the spectrum, choose two people who are still present in your life -- one who did few harms, one who did more harms. Maybe your best friend made a careless remark that insulted you and you still feel a bit miffed. On the other end of the spectrum, perhaps you might choose a parent who was particularly abusive to you when you were growing up and with whom you are still in close contact. You will have the most success if you think of a specific incident in each case in which this person offended you. Write a short summary of each event now. Remember, you cannot forgive in the abstract. Forgiveness occurs when you work through specific events with specific people. Reading a book about forgiveness will help you forgive a little, but not nearly as much as if you practice on the stories of hurt, betrayal, and anger you tell yourself. We now have a bird's-eye view of the five steps to climb the Pyramid Model to REACH Forgiveness. In the next chapters, let's swoop in and take an up-close and personal look at each step. Excerpted from Five Steps to Forgiveness: The Art and Science of Forgiving by Everett L. Worthington All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
Introduction: Why Forgive?p. 1
Part 1 How to Forgivep. 21
Chapter 1 Laying the Foundationp. 23
Chapter 2 R: Recall the Hurtp. 44
Chapter 3 E: Empathizep. 62
Chapter 4 A: Altruistic Gift of Forgivenessp. 86
Chapter 5 C: Commit Publicly to Forgivep. 107
Chapter 6 H: Hold On to Forgivenessp. 126
Part 2 How to Reconcilep. 153
Chapter 7 Decisionsp. 155
Chapter 8 Discussionp. 179
Chapter 9 Detoxificationp. 213
Chapter 10 Devotionp. 247
Notesp. 268
Indexp. 271