Shakti Sutriasa, LCSW, MA: Start Rosh Hashanah Right: 2 Powerful Forgiveness Tools

We are in the midst of the Days of Awe as they’re known to all of our Jewish brothers and sisters. This 10-day period commences with Rosh Hashanah and ends on Yom Kippur.

This is the Jewish New Year and as such is a deep time of reflection, a turning within, as we shed the old year and turn to look at the new.

One of the main themes of the Days of Awe is the idea of atonement.

In the Jewish tradition, atonement is an act of reconciliation, the desire to make amends or reparations for a wrong-doing. This is a time to forgive and ask for forgiveness.

Forgiveness is an act of generosity — both for you as well as the one being forgiven.

If you’re ready, here are two great tools:

1. Ho’oponopono

This is a traditional Hawaiian process that has been translated as “to make right” and is often used in conflict resolution. We make amends with our life, our relatives — both past and present — and clean the karmic slate.

This technique is simple and has 4 steps:

I. “I’m Sorry” — Think about a person, situation or issue and ask for repentance
II. “Please Forgive Me” — Now actively ask for forgiveness
III. “Thank You” — Recognize your gratitude for the situation and the learning opportunity
IV. “I Love You” — Come back to love

2. Four Most Important Things

In 1994, Ira Byock, a hospice doctor, wrote a book with this title about living, dying and forgiveness. As Dr. Byock suggests, don’t wait until your loved one is at death’s door to say what you need to. Do it now. His list looks like this:

I. Please Forgive Me
II. I Forgive You
III. I Love You
IV. Thank You

I learned about this book while working as a hospice social worker. During that time, my sister, who had metastasized breast cancer, was told that her liver was shutting down. She was dying.

In early June, I flew up to Washington DC determined to say these four statements.

I love you was easy. We’d had our ups and downs as most siblings do, and despite her eccentricities, I really loved her.

Thank you was also effortless. I had tremendous gratitude for her, especially growing up, when we moved a lot. With each place, different school and new friends, Melissa was my constant companion. I couldn’t imagine going through all of that without her.

I asked her to forgive me because I hadn’t always been the kindest or most loving big sister. I’d lied, excluded her from my friends, even bit her once. I was truly sorry for being mean and belittling.

But the last one — telling her that I forgave her — I couldn’t do. I had, of course forgiven her years earlier. But each time I imagined saying “I forgive you,” the words got caught in my throat.

A week later, I flew home. Walking into the hospice office, I spoke to my supervisor. “I asked my sister to forgive me, thanked her and told her I loved her but I just couldn’t say, ‘I forgive you.'”

My supervisor patted my hand. “You’ll know.” Then she paused. “Maybe you need to forgive her for being sick.”

I hadn’t thought about that because I wasn’t angry and didn’t blame her.

The next visit, our last, I went ready. I lay down next to her and said, “I just want you to know that I forgive you for getting sick.” Her look of anguish told me that my supervisor had been absolutely right. Melissa was riddled with guilt about leaving me alone to deal with my parents’ old age and dying. Now she could go in peace.

Words have power.

Self Help on Huffington Post

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