Forgiveness can be hard. And yet, it is a foundational component for what it means to be a Christian. Forgiving others, forgiving ourselves, and even sometimes it feels like forgiving God (usually for circumstances we would not have chosen for ourselves). On a daily basis, we need to forgive and let go of resentment.
We know that we should forgive, and even that forgiveness is more about our heart and mind than it is about the actual event, other person or circumstance, but that doesn't make it easy. It feels so much easier to hold on to resentment, to place blame. Anger and resentment makes us (temporarily) feel as though we have control over a situation. Ultimately though, it just makes us bitter, and it does nothing to improve our lives. Nor does it actually do anything toward holding someone else accountable for their actions.
Forgiving doesn't mean forgetting. 'Forgive and forget' may be one of the most dangerous expressions to exist. Our memory of events and circumstances matter. Our memories can help us put healthy boundaries in place, and prevent history repeating itself. While forgetting shouldn't happen, forgiving means letting go of the hurt that festers over the incident or time.
So, we know forgiving is important, and yet practical steps toward this can sometimes allude us. This is where the REACH technique can be useful.
Forgiveness Using The REACH Technique
The REACH technique can be used to forgive someone who has wronged you. There are two types of forgiveness.
• “Decisional” forgiveness involves deciding to forgive and letting go of angry and resentful thoughts and feelings toward the person who wronged you.
• “Emotional” forgiveness involves replacing negative emotions with positive feelings like compassion, sympathy and empathy.
Research indicates that emotional forgiveness offers positive health benefits because it reduces stressful reactions to and rumination about wrongdoings. The REACH technique stresses emotional forgiveness, and each step is applied to the offense or wrongdoing.
1. Recall the hurt. First, acknowledge you were hurt. Consciously decide to forgive and avoid seeking revenge against the person that hurt you.
2. Empathize. Pretend the person who hurt you is sitting in front of you and talk to them. Fully explain how you feel. Once you have had your say, change roles. Talk back as if you are the other person explaining why they wronged you. This builds empathy – even if you cannot empathize, this process can help you move on.
3. Offer an Altruistic gift. Offer forgiveness as a gift to the person. You can probably recall a time when you wronged someone, and the person forgave you. When you forgive you offer that same gift to the person who hurt you.
4. Commit. Once you have forgiven, write a note to yourself. It can be as simple as, “Today, I forgave X for hurting me.”
5. Hold on to forgiveness. You might doubt that you actually forgave the person or find yourself becoming angry or resentful at some point. Re-visit REACH to remind yourself that you are committed to forgiveness.
Introduction by Lauren Mead
Sourced from: EAP Assist, Forgiveness Using the REACH Technique, viewed 1 February 2023, https://eapassist.com.au/eap-assist/forgiveness-using-the-reach-technique/