10 Suggestions for Making Peace with Your Past


By Amy Lyles Wilson

1. Forgive yourself. Sometimes we’re harder on ourselves than we are on other people. Take a few minutes at the end of each week to let go of words or deeds you wish you had handled differently.

2. Write that letter to someone you’ve been meaning to forgive. Even if you don’t mail it, chances are you’ll feel better after putting your thoughts on paper.

3. Allow your friends and family members to make mistakes. As painful as it is to be hurt by someone close to you, try to remember that nobody’s perfect.

4. Think about how you’d like to be forgiven yourself. Can you offer the same gesture to someone else?

5. Remember that forgiving does not mean pretending that the offensive act never happened. However, letting go of the resentment will make it easier for you to forgive.

6. Ask yourself if you need to seek forgiveness from anyone you’ve harmed. Make a plan for the best way to approach the person.

7. For those moments you wish you could “do over,” think about how you would handle similar situ­ations in the future.

8. Accept the fact that you can’t control the outcome when you reach out to ask for forgiveness. All you can do is make the first move.

9. Talk to a church official or professional counselor if you’re burdened by an act so offensive you don’t think you can ever forgive the perpetrator.

10. Don’t panic if forgiveness does not come easily to you. With enough practice, you’ll become comfortable with letting go of past hurts.


From Forgiveness: Perspectives on Making Peace with Your Past. Compiled and introduced by Amy Lyles Wilson. © 2008 by Fresh Air Books. Used with permission.