How to Forgive and Let Go

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Dear Jane,
How do I forgive some family members for what they have done to me? I hate going to family events and skip the ones I can.

Often, we attempt to forgive because it would be more convenient for everyone concerned if we just hurried up and did it. Forgiveness, however, is a four-step process. In order to do it well and thoroughly, we don’t want to skip a step.

Step One: Acknowledge the wrong(s) done to you. Don’t sweep anything under the rug. Don’t minimize the transgressions.

Step Two: Give yourself compassion for the anger, betrayal, and hurt that accompany telling the truth to yourself. This is the step you really can’t rush. It may take a day to work through these feelings but, more likely, if you have ignored your feelings up until now or shamed yourself for having them, you will need time to honor the pain. How much time? You can’t put a stopwatch to your feelings. We tend to become stuck in feelings when we try to push them away, not when we give them their due. If you want to forgive others, have a pity party first, which is something I talk about in Enough Is Enough!

Step Three: Forgive yourself for any situation where you have not been your own best ally. Maybe you didn’t speak up when a family member was demeaning or insulting you. Maybe you cried when you wish you had said “Stop.” Maybe you even defended or excused their behavior by thinking, “Well, Aunt Mary was drunk when she said that so I can’t hold it against her.” Forgive yourself for not standing up for yourself.

Step Four: Notice what happens next. By doing the first three steps, you will feel less triggered by the transgressions. You won’t forget them; your Spirit just won’t feel a need to remind you that you have more healing work to do. If you are still upset by what someone has done to you, keep doing the first three steps. There may be more layers to the healing your Spirit requires.

About Jane
Jane Straus is a trusted life coach, dynamic keynote speaker, and the author of Enough Is Enough! Stop Enduring and Start Living Your Extraordinary Life. With humor and grace, Jane offers her clients and seminar participants insights and exercises to ensure that the next chapter of their lives is about thriving as the unique individuals they have always been and the extraordinary ones they are still becoming. She serves clients worldwide and invites you to visit her site, Here you will find excerpts from her book, more articles, TV and radio interviews, and clips from her presentations.
She is also the author of The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation,, an award-winning online resource and workbook with easy-to-understand rules, real-world examples, and fun quizzes.
Contact Jane at

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