I used to think that forgiveness was something that you did--something that you mustered up from deep inside yourself as a grand gesture of kindness or transcendence--an impressive feat of spiritual strength. "I forgive you" was a gift bestowed to the person who had wronged me, and thus was not true forgiveness at all, but a false pardon, which, though well-intentioned, was, essentially, a lie.
What does it even mean to forgive, anyway? As an inveterate word-nerd, I'm always one for referring to the dictionary, which states:
According to this definition, which seems pretty official to me, if you're still feeling at all angry or upset with the person you're trying to forgive, then you haven't yet arrived at your intended destination.
Many years ago, I read a book called Radical Forgiveness, which helped me to see forgiveness in a whole new light, but which still didn't get me to the true forgiveness of really and truly no longer judging the other person for what they did (or didn't do), and no longer having any negative feelings toward the person.
However, the book also required me to adopt an entire philosophy of life in order to get with its forgiveness program, and though it was a nice enough philosophy, and it did help to see things in a new and less harsh light, it didn't help me to truly forgive anyone. Why? Because I was still hurting over what they had done, and part of that hurt was anger and resentment toward them for it.
Then I discovered tapping, and realized that forgiveness is something that just effortlessly happens when all of the pain you experienced about this person and what they did or didn't do is gone. At that point, you still may not agree with what the other person did, and you may not choose to have that person in your life, but you don't have any negative feelings and judgment toward him or her.
In fact, instead of judgment and anger, once you've tapped your way to forgiveness, you'll have compassion for the person. And not manufactured, I'm-such-a-spiritual-person compassion, but real, authentic, I-see-you-and-feel-for-you compassion.
So how do we get there? Let me walk you through the steps:
Either on your own or with an EFT practitioner, tap to release all of the pain about what happened. For example, if you're tapping about your husband cheating on you, unpack that event and your feelings about it, and tap it all out until thinking about this fact of your life doesn't hurt anymore.
Here are some tapping statements you might find helpful as a starting point:
My husband cheated on me.
I feel so betrayed.
My husband destroyed my ability to trust.
His unfaithfulness has destroyed our marriage.
My heart is broken.
The worst part is the lies and sneaking around.
I feel so humiliated.
Once you've tapped your way to peace about what happened, you might already be at forgiveness, but you'll probably still have a little ways to go. If so, proceed to step two.
Write down (or unpack with your EFT practitioner) your judgments, feelings, and beliefs about this person and what they did that was hurtful to you. In keeping with the infidelity example, here are some possible tapping statements:
My husband is not a good man.
My husband is not the man I thought he was.
My husband is not an honorable man.
He's not a trustworthy person.
How could he do this to me? (questions work very well as tapping "statements.")
How could he do this to our children?
I'm so angry at him for hurting me like this.
I'll never forgive him for this.
He doesn't deserve my forgiveness.
Identify and tap out what you wish had happened or needed to have happen instead of what did happen. Why? Because 90% of the time, underneath these wishes and unmet needs lie hidden aspects that need to be healed. For example:
I wish my husband had remained faithful to me.
I needed my husband to be faithful to me and he wasn't.
I wish my husband hadn't felt the need to be with someone else.
I wish my husband made me feel as wanted as he used to.
I need my husband to work hard to regain my trust.
I need my husband to sincerely apologize to me for his betrayal.
I need my husband to make me feel that I'm the only woman he wants and needs.
I wish my husband made me feel that I'm the only woman he wants and needs.
I need to know that my husband is truly remorseful for being unfaithful to me.
“The practice of forgiveness is our most important contribution to the healing of the world.”
~ Marianne Williamson
If you could speak to his person and say anything at all to him/her about what happened, without fear of any repercussions whatsoever, what would you say? Use whatever comes to you as tapping statements, imagining that you're speaking directly to the person. This will help to reveal more aspects of the wound that you can then heal with tapping. For example:
I'll never forgive you for this.
I need you to apologize to me for what you did.
I need you to take responsibility for what you did.
How could you do this to me?
I trusted you.
You've hurt me so deeply.
Why did you to this to me?
Assess how you're feeling about what happened and how you're feeling about the person in question. Does it still hurt? Are you still angry? Do you have any resentment toward this person about this? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then you have more tapping to do.
If you're working on your own, I suggest writing down what happened and how you now feel about it. Use what you've written as a tapping script, assessing the emotional charge of each statement, and tapping out each one until it feels neutral.
If you're working with an EFT practitioner, be sure to share with her or him everything you're still feeling about this person, so that will know what remains to be tapped away, and be able to create a tapping strategy toward that end.
Another way to test and see if you've completely healed your feelings about this person and what they did is to either look at a picture of him/her, or close your eyes and imagine you're looking at him/her. How do you feel? Use whatever comes up as tapping statements.
If you complete all of these steps, and find you still haven't forgiven the person, go through the steps again, with an eye out for hidden aspects that haven't been identified and tapped out yet. You'll get there. And in less time than you might think.
Spontaneous forgiveness is such a reliable result of healing emotional wounds that I've come to use it as a litmus test in my private practice, in my online programs, and in my personal healing work. If the person I'm working with hasn't effortlessly forgiven the person who hurt them, it's a clear sign that we have more tapping work to do, and so I set out to find the hidden aspects of the issue that still need to be healed. They're always there, and once I help my client to identify them, we can tap the rest of the way to that beautiful by-product of a completed healing process: forgiveness.
When doing EFT/tapping on your own, if you get stuck, aren't getting the results you want, or would simply like to have the support and guidance of an experienced professional, I recommend working with an EFT practitioner. To schedule a session or free consultation with me, click here. If you feel that another EFT practitioner would be a better fit for you, click here to access a directory of practitioners.
Heather Ambler is a San Francisco Bay Area EFT practitioner and mindset coach. Through her private practice and online programs, she's helped over 10,000 people from 78 countries recover from grief and trauma, overcome fears, release limiting beliefs, and achieve personal and professional goals. Click here to schedule a free consultation.