How to Ask for Forgiveness and Clean Up Your Life
Forgiveness has been on my mind a lot during this past year. As part of my education and training in The Institute for The Work of Byron Katie, we work on making amends to clean up our life.
Katie’s program has been said to be a blend of Buddhism and 12-Step. She believes in having us repair the harm we’ve done to others, and that self-realization happens when we live the turnarounds.
A few months ago, I invited a former boyfriend to lunch. I wanted to apologize for hurting him 24 years ago. Note: I really hurt myself by breaking up with him. It took me five years of suffering to get over it. I was sorry that I held on to him in a needy way and couldn’t completely let go.
I wanted him to know what I loved about him so he would know what he meant to me, and what I learned from him. I wanted him to know this directly from me before something happened to one of us. I did not want to have any regrets.
I asked him for forgiveness and wanted to know how I could make it right with him. He said that staying in touch with him would make it right. We typically have coffee once or twice a year to stay in touch.
Forgiveness: All faiths in the world recommend it. There’s universal agreement among religious leaders about its benefits. If you have a relationship that must be healed, heal it now.
Making amends is about clearing up your life. Katie says to find the people, dead or alive, that you need to make amends to and start an “Amends List.” Your list could also include an animal, God, the earth, and so on.
I’ve written before about John Izzo’s book — The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die which says regret is the one thing we all fear the most. Do yourself a favor, and clean up your life now.
The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone. Harriet Beecher Stowe
How to Write A Letter of Apology
- Think of someone you hurt deeply. Then write them a letter outlining three things you did to hurt them.
- Apologize and ask how you can make it right. Then tell them three things they gave you that you are grateful for and thank them.
- Make sure to watch your language for signs of defense. Remove the words — “ifs”, “buts”, “shoulds” or “because.” Do not make any excuses for what you did. You did the best you could at the time, and now you are asking for forgiveness. Do not include any stories about why you did what you did. Just ask for forgiveness.
- You can mail the letter if you don’t want to talk with them face to face. I prefer to do these face to face if possible. However, if you don’t want to mail the letter, you don’t have to do that either.
- This act of forgiveness is about your life. Expect nothing from the person whom you are asking forgiveness from. It’s your life you are cleaning up.
- Now read the letter you wrote to them and put your name in it. Read it out loud as if you have written it to yourself. Katie says that turning this letter around to you is about discovery and forgiveness of yourself. Be gentle with yourself as you discover your own innocence.
- Notice where the turnaround offers you a place to see how you have hurt yourself. Remember – you were doing the best you could at that time. It’s really about forgiving yourself for how you have hurt you. The times when I discovered my own innocence and how I hurt myself have been some of my saddest and most profound turnarounds. We always begin now – right where we are.
- Hug yourself and tell you that you love you!
“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” M K Gandhi
I Need Your Love – Is That True? by Byron Katie
April 2011 issue of O Magazine, Letting Go by Harriet Brown
The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die, by John Izzo, PhD