Excerpt from the book, The Forgiving Life

Sophia: And please recall that you do not practice any virtue in isolation from the other virtues. As you practice forgiveness, you should practice justice and patience and wisdom, for example. Here is a general rule to follow as you begin to examine who wounded your heart: You need not forgive everyone who has ever been unfair to you, at least not right away. Focus on those who have actually done some damage, who have actually wounded your heart. As you examine your life, you The Forgiving Lifewill remember many people who let you down, insulted you, embarrassed you, and disappointed you in some way. It is legitimate to forgive each of them in time, but for now focus on those who have hurt you deeply enough that you can say, “Yes, that person, by his or her actions, has wounded my heart.”

Inez: I’m feeling kind of overwhelmed at the moment.

Sophia: What is it that seems so big to you?

Inez: The mountain of people. When you’ve lived a while you build up a lot of wounds. Where to begin?

Sophia: We can take it systematically, one person at a time. I recommend that we first make a list of all who have seriously wounded you in your life, from early childhood on to the present time. You need not forgive everyone on that list prior to your turning to forgiving Sterling. Although it may be in your best interest to first forgive certain people, such as your mom and dad or others in your family when you were growing up. These patterns of interactions and the wounds from them can and do make a difference in how we react to other people now.

Enright, Robert D. (2012-07-05). The Forgiving Life (APA Lifetools) (Kindle Locations 2140-2149). American Psychological Association. Kindle Edition.

Enright, Robert D. (2012-07-05). The Forgiving Life (APA Lifetools) (Kindle Locations 2135-2140). American Psychological Association. Kindle Edition.

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  1. Samantha says:

    I have found that it takes time to build up an expertise in forgiveness. You can’t just will forgiveness into existence. As I forgive one person I get stronger in the overall practice of it. So after forgiving five people I find it easier to forgive the sixth person.

  2. Chris says:

    Forgive all? Do I really want to do that? Some experiences are best left by the side of the road as I move on.

  3. Samantha says:

    Chris, but what if you are leaving anger at the side of the road. It is a clever foe. It does not just stay there. Anger has a way of finding its way back into the heart no matter how fast and far you move up the road. What then?

  4. Chris says:

    Point well taken, Samantha. If it is anger I am leaving behind, I better see that and deal with it. OK, I am now challenged to see if this is the case. Thanks.

  5. josh says:

    This kind of perspective greatly expands for me what forgiveness is and its applicability in my life and in the life of my loved ones. Forgiveness is such a rich and useful concept. Thank you.


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