Forgiveness: How-To

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Mpho Tutu, minister and co-author, with her father, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, of The Book of Forgiving: The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World offers a step-by-step guide to truth and reconciliation in our lives: tell the story, name the hurt, forgive, and renew or release the relationship.


Mpho Tutu

Comments [27]


Vengeance is bad karma.
I am christian but don't believe in everything the bible says the Lord said.
Love thy neighbor and do to others....its the way to go. Do your best and don't look back for payment, this way you don't get in trouble with yourself.
Budha's unconditional love seems aligned with this idea.
A person gets angry to him/herself,I think, because he/she can't handle the situation.
Forgiving myself was a must before I could forgive others.

Peace, cotton candy and pop corn :)

May. 01 2014 04:46 PM
Matilda Virgilio from Valley Stream, NY

Been working on this very virtue...forgiveness..

My Mamma enabled my older brothers violent nature...we were in post war Italy & the boys do no wrong...the girls become the scapegoat in many households. My Pappa enabled & was invisible. This is still true in many cultures. The unjust & abusive environment of my nuclear family presented the biggest challenge.

Since then the need to live without rage & find love in the world comes directly from the keystone of forgiveness & kindness.

The world as it is gives daily opportunity to fine tune the ability & skill to let go of the toxic anger that comes from feeling & being victimized.

Totally agree with the idea that forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves and it is an invitation not a "to do" from both the scriptures & good therapists.

One tool which helped was my need to express my journey through journals & collage documentation. Some of my introspective work can be viewed on my web page

My ability to forgive was the only reason I was able to care for my parents during their last days. First my Pappa, & then for ten long years my Mamma. My brothers never forgave me for this for all their $$ was spent in their care, with minimal residue left from their reverse mortgage once we sold their home. They do not speak to each other & their wives mock me for sacrificing my life for the care of my parents. They come from a cowardly new world..full of fear & void of understanding.

This is why the world is at war. Lack of understanding of the seed of love...which is forgiveness which feeds kindness which is the expression of love for self & then others.

My brothers & their wives are tortured souls full of fear & resentment...which will eat away at them till they find the grace to forgive...This is my personal forgiveness journey with my immediate family...

Addendum: Had I not learned forgiveness early on in life...I never would have been able to endure: child abuse in all its forms, betrayal from friends, adultery,abandonment while pregnant with our second child, divorce, single parent financial & emotional struggles with two hyperactive daughters, domestic violence, work place injustices , loss of career & health, & now facing the aging process in ill health without the family I sacrificed everything for.

Thank you for the program was affirming to know my journey in forgiveness is a rare gift ...I feel not so alone in a world that seldom values kindness...

Apr. 30 2014 01:06 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Much easier to forgive when nothing really bad has ever happened to you.

Apr. 30 2014 12:30 PM
diane from Brooklyn

If you want to know the effects of total forgiveness a man's life after his wife and five little children were gunned down by the gestapo, read this:

It's from the autobiography, "Return from Tomorrow" by George G. Ritchie.

We all have a choice, like he did, to spend the rest of our life hating, or the rest of our life loving -- loving every one. Love is not a reward for proper behavior. Love is life itself. Love is where God is, and there's no hate there, and all scars are healed.

Apr. 30 2014 12:01 PM
Marco from NYC

Forgiveness is compassion, science proved that everyone of us has a brain that is wired in a particular way by genetic and socioeconomic factors.
Our actions are the result of that equation.
Nobody's really at fault for behaving in a particular way they are just what they are. Some of us is very sympathizing and attentive others are sociopaths jerks, can we really blame them to be like that? Did they chose to be like that? Do you choose to be shy or outgoing? Gay or straight? Fare or unfare? Good or evil? No.
If we can understand this, "forgiving" will simply follow.
I know it's not easy but this concept constantly helps me to keep the right perspective on others and limit resentfulness and hate feelings to a minimum.

Apr. 30 2014 11:52 AM
Jacqui Cousin from New York, NY

Forgiveness in an interesting topic. My sister and I were talking about this yesterday. Without going too deeply into it, our younger sister was murdered in 2002. We have yet to resolve our feelings about this as a family, but as older sisters, we have yet to heal and there is always something missing. I comment on this because just yesterday, my sister said she thought of all the things she would like to say to the man who murdered our sister. I don't think we know how to forgive for this heinous crime, but in addition, the question can be asked, "do we have to forgive this man?" "Will it help us heal if we do forgive him?"

Apr. 30 2014 11:50 AM
Roslyn from Manhattan

I've heard this philosophy so often, yet cannot embrace it. To forgive is such a huge concept. Forgiving someone who may hurt your feelings is completely different than forgiving a murderer. It's fine to write books and speak in lofty terms about the need to forgive; how forgiving would one be if a loved one was the victim of a horrific act of violence?

Apr. 30 2014 11:49 AM
fuva from harlemworld

If 'forgiveness' is coming to terms with the wrong that has been committed against you, then shouldn't we call that acceptance?

Apr. 30 2014 11:48 AM
Michael from Rhinebeck from Rhinebeck, NY

Forgiveness and absolution are frequently confused. Forgiveness is not absolution.

Apr. 30 2014 11:46 AM
Miscellaneous from NYC

My sister did something to me a few years ago for which I cannot forgive her and I haven't spoken to her since. Oddly, she keeps inviting me for holidays, etc., and I never even answer her invitations because I can't see sitting at a dinner table with her after what she did to me. Whatever would we say to one another? I don't forgive her; I can't forgive her; I think our deceased parents would be horrified by what she did to me. She has never offered an apology of any sort and I don't think she knows that she would be expected to apologize, although if I told you what she did, you would think I am correct. I don't even feel bad about no longer having her in my life. I only wish I could spend more time with my nephews.

Sometimes there are things that people do that cannot be forgiven and there is nothing that Minister Tutu can say to justify forgiveness of certain actions.

Apr. 30 2014 11:45 AM
Michael from Rhinebeck from Rhinebeck, NY

Forgiveness and absolution are frequently confused. Forgiveness is not absolution.

Apr. 30 2014 11:45 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Sue from NYC, exactly. Coming to terms with a wrong that has been committed against you is too often conflated with excusing the bad behavior, which can't seem to help the perpetrator either.

Apr. 30 2014 11:45 AM

I get what's she's talking about with forgiveness. It is about my own freedom and peace of mind. My husband had an affair, and it was the most incredibly painful trauma I have ever been through. Yet I have been able to forgive him. The process was about my own healing, to get myself back. I have never said to him, "I forgive you," because that can be interpreted by the other person to mean all kinds of things. But by my actions, including never bringing the topic up with him again,

Apr. 30 2014 11:44 AM
Marsha from Bedminster, NJ

I would like to correct the previous caller's definition of the Hebrew word "t'shuva." It does not mean forgiveness, as the caller said, it means "return." It can mean an answer, as in the case of Talmudic answers. It can also means atonement, in the Jewish sense of sin and repentance. The word for sin in Hebrew is "chait," which means to veer from the path, as in a righteous path. T'shuva means to return to the righteous path.

The Hebrew word for forgiveness is "slee-chah."

Apr. 30 2014 11:43 AM
John A

No relationship is a perfect connection. Reconciliation is taking steps forward and back to get the distance right. Sometimes that distance is defacto separation.
My goal is to never hate. But that includes at times retreat for the sake of peace.

Apr. 30 2014 11:43 AM
james from nyc

Great show. Briefly: forgiveness is not an act of the will. We may want to forgive, but can't until we see that holding on to unforgivness no longer makes sense. Then forgivness is a relief. but first the perception that the grievence makes no sense, etc The Rev makes sense that the ability to achieve that perception is directly related to one's allowance of the full pain of the loss that the grievance has inflicted. Unforgveness is a not to helpful method to avoid the pain that something really happened that can't be undone.

I hope that makes sense.

Apr. 30 2014 11:42 AM
Janna L from New York City

I think a lot of the callers are confusing forgiveness with reconciliation. You can practice the release and letting go of forgiveness without being forced to reconcile with the perpetrator. It's great if there is reconciliation at some point, but it's inhumane and victimizing for bystanders to demand it of victims in their definition of forgiveness.

Apr. 30 2014 11:42 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Yes, jgarbuz, good point -- repentance too.

Tutu's version of forgiveness -- for the victim's sake -- is selfish, no? It focuses on the victim's "feelings" -- if that makes any sense -- without allowing the perpetrator the opportunity to evolve by being confronted and held to account...

Sounds like some bourgeoisie, removed from reality, theoretical nonsense.

Apr. 30 2014 11:41 AM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

I have been trying for years to find a way to forgive my ex-wife for alienating my now-teenage children against me. This has been a campaign by her for almost all of my children's lives and involves teaching them that I am not worthy of their respect; they do not have to spend time with me; setting me up as the bad guy by making other plans with them when they were supposed to be with me, and giving me the choice of either disappointing them by insisting they be with me, or not seeing them; generally conveying the impression to them that I am a bully (when I would do normal, healthy parenting, setting limits, etc.) and she would be their protector from me, the shadowy, "inappropriate" villain.

She has never missed an opportunity to humiliate me in regard to my role as father. All while keeping her skirts clean, with very passive-aggressive techniques.

I have not been able to bring myself to forgive her, because (a) she has continued to use EVERY possibility to undermine me to them and (b) the harm she has done is mostly to the children, as painful as it has been for me through many, many years.



What would the reverend say about situations such as mine? It hurts to be so angry and hold this in, but she has failed to change her ways despite dozens of opportunities and pledges to do so. It's long become second nature with her.

Apr. 30 2014 11:40 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Is reconciliation possible without forgiveness?

Apr. 30 2014 11:39 AM
Don from Whippany, NJ

What about forgiving ourselves? Sometimes that seems the hardest thing of all. I am haunted daily by my mistakes and errors of the past.

Apr. 30 2014 11:37 AM
Sue from NYC

If by "forgiveness" you mean that someone who was victimized lets go of anger and bitterness within themselves, I'm OK with it. But if you mean a survivor should resume a relationship with a victimizer or bully or rapist or someone like that, no. Never.

Apr. 30 2014 11:37 AM
Lesa from Westchester

Forgiveness is about the victim releasing his/herself from the situation, not so much to the transgressor.

Taking this perspective, this is so rational.

Apr. 30 2014 11:34 AM
Paul from Boston

Forgiveness is over-rated.

Apr. 30 2014 11:31 AM
genejoke from Brooklyn

I can understand forgiving someone for infidelity, a diss, neglect, etc. But what about rape or murder? How can one ever forgive an action which ruins one's life?

Apr. 30 2014 11:31 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

I thought forgiveness comes after (1) confession; (2) restitution; (3) repentance. When someone who has wronged you confesses guilt, gives restitution if possible, and repents of his or her sin then he or she deserves forgiveness.

Otherwise "Vengeance is mine" sayeth the Lord.

Apr. 30 2014 11:29 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Yes, forgiveness/ reconciliation requires 1) TRUTH, 2) RESTITUTION. And so, with race anyway, we have a ways to go. In America, the motherland, worldwide...

Apr. 30 2014 10:52 AM

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