A Simple Perspective and Technique for Forgiveness: An Act of Unclenching

With conversations of forgiveness as a focus these days, I have a heightened awareness of the power and potential of it to positively shift situations and relationships.  I’ve also realized that we all can use that as a perspective for determining choices and actions in my daily activities.  We can do this by asking the question, “What do I need to forgive now for a positive shift in outcome to occur?”  The short version is, “What do I need to forgive right now?”  The effects of asking and acting on that simple question can be profound.

“Forgiveness is an act of unclenching, a relaxing of the will to hold onto something painful from the past.  The mechanics of forgiveness are simple, just let go.”  That thought occurred as I was writing the other day.  It offers another clear and simple way to think about forgiveness and tied in beautifully with the question, “What do I need to forgive right now?”  From this perspective, I know that any time that I feel any tension, resistance, judgment, anger, or other negative feelings in my body, I’m holding onto something.  It’s usually negative memories, emotions and/or limiting beliefs resulting from a painful incident of the past.  I also know that I can consciously choose to acknowledge the feelings or beliefs, then relax, forgive and let them go.

It could be a word or thought that triggers a momentary twinge, a mere prick of emotion or a slight feeling of constriction that shows you where you’re clenched and holding on.  Something doesn’t have to be big, seem significant or have occurred far in your past to benefit from forgiveness.  The event or incident could seem trivial, or it might have happened just seconds ago.  The point is that there is nothing too small, too insignificant or too recent to forgive.  In fact, the more quickly you recognize, forgive and let go of painful incidents or constricting thoughts, the less time and energy you’ll waste carrying them around with you and the more light and clear you’ll feel.

Here’s an example.  Recently I received an email request from a consulting client to do something relatively small that was outside of our original agreement.  I was surprised to notice that my initial reaction included flickers of anger, negative judgments and feelings of resistance – I felt myself clenching up inside.  There was something triggered for me.  So before replying, I paused, took a moment to acknowledge the feelings, then asked myself the question, “What do I need to forgive right now?”

The answer came quickly.  It was a limiting belief – an old belief that said that I had to be a ‘nice guy’ and do what others ask without any question or compensation.  With that in play I felt like I didn’t have a choice.  So I acknowledged the belief as being outdated and unneeded.  I forgave myself for having the negative feelings and I forgave myself for having the old belief.  I relaxed and let it all go so that it wouldn’t affect my interaction with the client.  I then replied to the client and neutrally asked whether the request was intended as a favor from me, or with the understanding that I’d bill them for it.  With that I was able to feel good knowing that I had a choice either way.  I had a more clear and positive interaction with the client and easily found a mutually agreeable outcome.

I suggest that you try out these perspectives for yourself, along with the simple forgiveness technique I’m offering below.  Perhaps you’ll even be convinced to adopt them for the long term.  But for at least the next week, I invite you to stay aware of yourself and take the following seven simple steps as opportunities occur:

  1. As you go through your day pay attention to your thoughts and feelings.
  2. If you notice negative thoughts or uncomfortable feelings – especially feelings of tightness, clenching or anger – stop and acknowledge them.
  3. Take a deep breath, turn your attention into the area of your heart and ask yourself the question, “What do I need to forgive right now?”
  4. Acknowledge whatever answer you get, even if it doesn’t make sense.  Then make a conscious intention to easily forgive and let go whatever it is.
  5. Speak silently to yourself (or even aloud), “I forgive myself for __________ (whatever it is).” or “I forgive ____________ (whatever it is).”
  6. Then imagine relaxing, unclenching and letting go of any of the negative thoughts and feelings or limiting beliefs you’re holding around the situation.
  7. Come back to the situation more relaxed, confident and open to new ideas to allow a positive shift in outcome to occur.

It may take a little practice to step fully into this new perspective and for the tool to feel useful for you.  So in addition to giving yourself at least a week to try it out, I recommend you take it on with an attitude of experimentation, curiosity and even playfulness.  Forgiveness happens much more easily when you approach it with a light heart and you may even have some fun with the process!

Please leave me comments to let me know what kinds of positive shifts and outcomes you experience.  I can’t wait to hear what happens for you.


If you recognize that you have some significant forgiveness work that needs to be done, and you’re interested in getting some help with it, Forgiveness Club is here for you.  First, you can get the free “Forgiveness Jump Start” kit that contains a step-by-step forgiveness exercise and 3 useful worksheets, when you join Forgiveness Club using the form in the right hand side bar of this page.  Second, you can go check out the Forgiveness Coaching page to find out about our individual consultation services. It would be an honor and privilege to support you to get through any blocks or hurdles you may be facing, so that you can Let Go, Make Peace, Forgive and Set Yourself Free!  


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