The key to Step 1 is to simply acknowledge that we want to forgive someone and acknowledge what we want to forgive them for. This helps you break out of any kind of denial of what happened into a frame of mind of accepting it and from there begin to do something about it.
It is important not to try and be “politically correct” and honor your current gut feeling about the event. If you feel that someone “stole my girlfriend” then that is the phrase to use – at least in the beginning of the process. However, avoid overly dramatic interpretations of the results of the event, such as “they completely ruined my life forever”. A little bit of drama is fine in the beginning, but try to stick close to the facts without too much of it. Later, after working through the steps a few times, you will likely find that your feelings will change and the wording you want to use will change too. This is a natural part of the process.
If working on forgiving yourself then you may need to think of a suitable way to make amends to the other person. This can be a very good thing to do, but watch out for self punishment disguised as remorse. Making amends should bring you a feeling of relief. If it does not do that it might self flagellation of some kind. If you have no access to the person (they are out of your life for whatever reason) yet you want to make amends, then do it by proxy and be particularly, kind generous or helpful to someone of the same race, group or type of person – or even just someone at random.
Do you believe God has to forgive you before you can forgive yourself? If so, ask yourself how you know that has not already happened. Then try and complete the 4 Steps a few times and see if you are any clearer.
In order to forgive someone else you may feel they ought to apologize to you first. Or you may feel afraid to forgive someone as you are worried that they will hurt you again if you have anything to do with them. If so, then have a look at Tough Forgiveness which includes a separate and distinct reconciliation process. If you are willing to go along with the idea of Tough Forgiveness then go ahead and forgive them by doing the Four Steps in the meantime. Otherwise, pick an easier issue for now.
Written by: William Fergus Martin