Upon reflection, I realize that I have a long list of people I need to forgive, spanning from my early years to the present day of my adult life. Everything looks so overwhelming. Who should I start with, and why? How do I organize myself while forgiving in this way?
This is a typical and significant inquiry. It is important since it is challenging to arrange all of these details. I walk you through this process of organizing in the way you want in my book, The Forgiving Life, especially in Chapters 8 and 9.
Here is a summary of those chapters: Make a list of all the family members who have harmed you. Make a list of all the instances in which they treated you unjustly. Next go on to experiences with classmates during elementary school, then adolescence, and finally adulthood with relationships and employment. As accurately as you can, enumerate every instance of significant injustice.
Start with your family of origin (where you grew up) as that is where your personal behavioral pattern may have been formed. It is not advisable for you to start forgiving the one person for the one thing that you found most difficult. Before going up the hurt-scale to the one person and one event that hurt you the most, start small and practice forgiveness. Next, proceed to schooling or your peer group, depending on which one most needs your forgiveness, and repeat the same process. Work up to the bigger problems by starting with the smaller ones. You will eventually reach a point in time when you might need to extend forgiveness to a spouse or other close relative who have deeply hurt you. Because of all of your previous forgiveness work, you will already be strengthened, so this new task won’t be as difficult as it could have been if you hadn’t first developed your capacity for forgiveness by forgiving other people for lesser injustices.