How to Forgive

B.T. Brown describes how self-righteous indignations over past injustices impacts our thinking. “The mind makes judgments, measures loss, takes blame, and assigns guilt.” These kinds of grievances grease the mind’s hamster wheel, keeping it well-oiled and endlessly churning. Jumping off the hamster wheel is a choice one can choose to make. To stop the scorekeeping, one must unplug from the mind’s default of fault-finding in order to offer forgiveness.

My last column focused on the benefits of forgiveness. One reader wrote in response, “I can actually feel my body shutting itself down whenever I’m caught up in anger and resentment toward people who have hurt me. The release of energy I feel when I let go is divine….” This column suggests how to “let go” and forgive yourself and others.

Forgiveness Through the Heart

Forgiveness is like taking out the trash, it needs to be done regularly. If not, the stockpiling of injuries will create “stinking thinking.” The more frequently one forgives, the less chance a logjam of hurts can accumulate. There isn’t a right or wrong way to do forgiveness. A place to start is to make an intention to forgive and to release whatever weighs heavily upon you.

In this process, tapping into the spiritual heart with its core essence of love will help you forgive.

  • Place one or both hands over your heart.
  • Note the physical sensation of your heart. Visualize an inner chamber deep within your heart.
  • Keeping a focus on your inner heart space, say silently or out loud,
    “I forgive you < insert name or situation >.”
  • Say as little, or as much as you want, about what has wounded you.
  • Once finished, note how you feel. You may experience a sensation of feeling lighter, more peaceful.

With trauma, dealing with the immensity of what’s happened requires an ongoing forgiveness process. Doing a one-time forgiveness will not be enough to fully release all the pain endured. Do the forgiveness often to unburden the pain from your heart. If needed, ask for help.

Learn To Forgive Yourself

Photo by Lina Trochez on Unsplash

While parenting, it never occurred to me that I could forgive myself for regrettable choices made. Acknowledging how painfully flawed I felt as a parent evoked sadness and shame. Anyone who has been a parent, or is currently in the fullness of parenting, knows how challenging it can be! No matter how much you love your child, words will fly out of your mouth that you wish you could magically reel back in. Frustrations and impatience can easily spill into anger. Realistically, expect parenting imperfections to occur, which necessitates learning how to forgive yourself as an imperative.

Marie Kondo, the organizing guru, recently wrote about learning to forgive. “Just after my older daughter was born, I felt unable to forgive myself for not being able to manage my life as I had before. But, with time, I eased up on myself; then, after I gave birth to my second daughter, I let go of my need for perfection altogether.” She acknowledges now, “I am busier than ever after having my third child, so I have grown to accept that I cannot tidy every day - and that is okay!”

Ask Your Child To Forgive You

There may come a time when you need to ask your child to forgive you. You’ll be teaching your child that it’s okay to make mistakes and a way to take responsibility for hurtful words and actions.

Sometimes an apology isn’t enough. Then asking for forgiveness calls for a much more humbling experience. Your vulnerability is on full display. You are letting your child know that even you, their parent, can make a mistake. Your child not only learns how to offer forgiveness but learns by your example how to ask for forgiveness when they have hurt someone.

  • Tell your child you are sorry for < fill in the blank > .
  • Go an extra step and ask to be forgiven.

A Forgiveness Practice

Ho’oponopono is a traditional Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness. The four phrases of the prayer can be repeated as often as needed. A remarkable story is told about the therapist Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len. Reviewing patient’s files in a prison for the criminally insane, he said the prayer over and over again. The outcome of his miraculous results can be found on-line. I, too, can testify to the power of these words. It’s been helpful to me and my clients in helping to re-establish a peaceful heart.

Place a hand over your heart and repeatedly say silently or out loud…

  • I am sorry
  • Please forgive me
  • I thank you
  • And I love you

Write It All Out

Once a class I attended on grief, taught by Mirabai Starr, included the exercise of writing “a letter of protest to God.” I scoffed. What good would that do? However, once I began, imagine my surprise when I easily penned two pages worth of pent-up anger and grief.

Just acknowledging one’s hurts often initiates a healing process.

  • Write a letter. No censoring, express every emotion that arises.
  • If so desired, and it’s okay if you don’t, share your letter with a trusted person. Or read your letter directly to the person who harmed you.
  • As a ritual of release, burn the paper or put it in a bowl of water and as the words dissolve, trust and intend that you are letting go of the hurtfulness.

The Resiliency of Our Hearts

Forgiveness won’t change nor erase what has happened. What it does do, though, is release one from a burdensome past and may even ease a current situation, enabling you to freely live in the present moment.

Forgiveness, the ultimate heart tenderizer, softens a hardened heart, returning it to the strength of one's true and loving nature. An active practice of forgiveness creates a resilient heart. And a resilient heart is wise enough to acknowledge all the ways we are flawed beings while not forgetting we are also majestically beautiful. Humanity, in all its messiness, needs resilient hearts to prevail.

Read my column for Owl Magazine

—by Mary Ellen Lucas

< Previous: Owl Magazine (Spring ’23)

About the Author

Reverend Mary Ellen is a minister, author, teacher, and activist from Cleveland, Ohio. In the year 2000, she took a leap of faith when she responded to her heart’s sacred calling and left behind a secure job with a steady income. She became self-employed at a wellness center as a full-time healing arts practitioner, and she has committed her life to be of service, not only with what breaks her heart but also what fills her heart with joy.

Her first children’s pre-chapter book, The Day the Goose Squabble Stopped, is meant to invoke laughter and deliver a timely message. She considers her book the first one in a series of goose stories. Rev. Mary Ellen can be contacted through her website Her books can be purchased through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or direct through Sacred Stories Publishing. Ebooks are available on Amazon, Apple Books and Kobo. An audiobook is available on iTunes,, and Amazon.


I have worked with Mary Ellen Lucas in many capacities for 15 years or more. Her spiritual direction and mentoring are wise, deep, compassionate and loving. Her astrological work is focused, accurate, practical and spiritual and always helpful; her classes and my sessions with her are high points of my year. Her Reiki and energy work have been very effective in alleviating both physical and emotional pain for me. If I could, I'd give ongoing sessions with Mary Ellen to ALL the people I care about.Neal S.