31 Forgiveness Exercises & Activities With Breakthrough Effect (2021)

7 min read

Forgiveness isn’t easy, but it’s usually in your best interests. Sometimes, a forgiveness exercise will help give you the strength to forgive others.

In my work as a certified life coach, I have worked with many people who need to forgive others to move forward with their own lives. 

That’s why I was keen to share this list of forgiveness exercises. 

Let’s dive right into it.

My Favourite Exercises

If you need to forgive someone, I’d urge you to browse this list and engage in the forgiveness exercises that resonate best with you.

1. Discover The Pain Of Holding Grudges 

Holding grudges weighs you down. It’s like a heavy trash can you have to carry everywhere.

You’re poisoning yourself with negative energy, which stresses you, drains your zest for life and makes you less pleasant to be around. 

That’s why this article won’t focus too much on whether this person deserves your forgiveness. You’re doing this for your benefit!

Often, the toxicity from holding grudges is subconscious, so here’s an exercise to bring it to your awareness. 

Put yourself into a meditative state, and picture a past situation for which you are yet to forgive someone. Try and make this memory as vivid as possible. Place extra focus on the person or people responsible for it.

Now, as you do this, pay attention to the emotions and physical responses that arise.

This is the trauma living within you. It’s often called the ‘pain body’. The following exercises are designed to help you let go of it.     

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2. Find Empathy For Your Aggressors

Perhaps it currently seems impossible to find any empathy for someone able to pull off such a misdemeanour. Maybe you wouldn’t ever dream of doing something so cruel.

As true as this may be, I’d still encourage you to consider how the other person got to this point.

Significant personality flaws don’t develop for no reason. They all tend to have a tragic story behind them. 

  • An unbearingly blunt work colleague may have been exposed to environments where this was the only way to be heard. 
  • A cowardly friend may have developed a fear of confrontation, after a series of traumatic events. 
  • A selfish lover may have a history of being taken for granted in the past. 

The point is: the toxic personality trait that led to this unforgivable event was most likely developed against this person’s will. 

The things they did actually had nothing to do with you. Most likely, it was as a result of a weakness formed from their negative experiences. Their pain body. 

Once you understand this, it should become easier to feel some compassion for your aggressor and forgive their actions.   

3. Remember Your Own Imperfections 

We all have a pain body of some sort. We have all gone through traumatic experiences. And that’s why none of us are perfect. 

You may be flabbergasted by the weakness that led to you being wronged by this person. But it’s incredibly likely you have flaws that would shock other people too.  

Wouldn’t you like to be forgiven for these? 

Well, this is the exact reason why you need to be strong enough to forgive others. 

I would ask you to also consider the idea that your imperfections are part of what’s preventing you from having forgiven this person already. 

Did they reopen an old wound from your past? Did they expose an insecurity created as a child? Does forgiving them conflict with your inflated ego? Exploring these ideas might help you to see beyond them and forgive this person. 

4. Get A Clear Idea Of What Forgiveness Means 

Forgiveness doesn’t mean you approve of what this person did. It’s not a permission slip to do it again. It doesn’t even have to mean you want them back in your life. 

No, forgiveness only requires the letting go of toxic thoughts, such as anger, bitterness, resentment or the desire for vengeance.

As I mentioned before, the process of forgiveness is entirely for your benefit, not theirs. 

Hopefully, this definition makes the idea of forgiving someone seem more desirable. 

5. Accept What Happened, Instead Of Resisting Or Denying It 

You don’t have to be happy about what happened, but you need to accept it as reality. 

Some people skip this process because what happened is too painful to accept, but it’s a crucially important step on the path to forgiveness. 

6. Take Responsibility For Your Role In What Happened 

There are two sides to every story, and I would like you to consider what the other person’s side looks like.

Why would they say they did these dreadful things? Take the time to consider what you may have done to trigger this series of events.

You don’t have to blame yourself for what happened, or make excuses for the person who did these horrible things. Just try to see it from their perspective. Imagine what their motives could have been. How could they have justified their actions in that moment? How could their ‘pain body’ have played a role?   

This bigger picture of what happened often makes it easier to forgive the one who harmed us.   

7. Write A Letter To This Person, Then Burn It

Forgiveness Exercise
Photo by Ihor Malytskyi on Unsplash

This symbolic exercise is a great way to let go of anger and resentment.

Write a letter to your aggressor featuring everything you want to say or do to get revenge on them. Don’t hold back! 

Once it’s written, set the letter on fire and watch it burn to the ground. 

You may feel lighter after this process is complete. That’s the weight of the toxic energy being lifted from your shoulders. 

You don’t need to do this exercise every day. Once should be enough 😉

8. The Sending Light Exercise

Close your eyes and put yourself into a meditative state. Imagine you’re stood facing the person who hurt you and surrounded by an abundance of beautiful and glorious healing light. Touch this light and notice how it fills you with love, joy, energy and peace. Let it flow through you.

Now, pass some of this light to them. Your higher self should have no resistance to this. 

Watch as it fills their body, notice the inner peace it brings to them, see how they react as their pain body dissolves and they connect with their higher self. 

Now, imagine them staring at you filled with joy and saying “I’m sorry”. Without their inner anguish, they had no reason to hurt you. Accept their apology. Make peace with them. Give them a hug and wish them a happy life. 

Now, it’s time to come back into your body. Realise how great this forgiveness fantasy made you feel. Dwell on this joyous feeling. If you want to experience it again, you know what to do 😉

9. Forgiveness Meditation

The ‘Sending Light’ exercise is just one example of a forgiveness meditation. You may prefer to meditate on affirmations based on forgiveness. 

You can search for guided forgiveness meditations online, or within meditation apps like Calm or Headspace.  

10. Forgiveness Therapy

Few of the suggestions in this list are easy. 

You have to be wise to understand the power of someone’s pain body. It requires a strong heart to consider your own weaknesses, or to even picture yourself developing compassion toward someone who wronged you.

If these exercises are proving too difficult to complete, therapy is a good alternative to figuring it out alone.     

A qualified therapist is trained to guide you through the forgiveness process at your own pace, based on your personality and your unique scenario.

So, feel free to let them help you. The exercises in this guide are often used in various types of therapy sessions, and many people appreciate the helping hand. 

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11. Say ‘I Forgive You’

This is an optional exercise. Forgiveness doesn’t have to be verbalised to be felt in the heart. 

In many cases, you won’t be able to get in touch with the one who wronged you. Sometimes, you won’t want or need to do this. 

But, if you can utter the magic words ‘I Forgive You’ to this person, it can lift a weight off your shoulders.

Perhaps you’ll still feel some resistance when the time comes, but the physical and emotional relief that comes from verbally forgiving someone will help you realise it’s for the best. 

Often, the other person will have been desperate to settle the score with you, and this forgiveness can lead to a sincere apology from them. It could become the first step towards a full reconciliation, although isn’t necessary for you to feel the benefits.  

12. Offer Help 

Again, this might be the last thing you want to do. And that’s fine.  

However, once you understand how the pain body works, you’ll realise the one who hurt you probably needs help more than anyone else you know. 

This could be as simple as offering to listen to their problems, or asking if there’s something they need. Maybe you’ll want to play a more active role in healing the pain in their heart. 

They might not be ready to accept your help at first, but offering it will do a lot of good on your journey to forgiving this person.  

More Forgiveness Exercises And Activities

13. Forgiveness Roleplays

14. Benefit Finding Methods

15. Rumination Exercises

16. Naikan Therapy

17. Self-Soothing Exercises

18. Lessen The Injustice Gap

19. Emotional Replacement Exercises

20. Write A Forgiveness Letter (Not A Dark One)

21. Diving Into The Ego

22. Compassion Practices

23. Dyads

24. Heart-Opening Meditations

25. Freedom Meditations

26. Give A Gift To Your Aggressor

27. Cognitive Questions

28. Evaluate Their Apology

29. The Revenge And Forgiveness Exercise

30. The Empty Chair Technique

31. Relive Past Memories Of Forgiving People 

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Any Questions About These Forgiveness Exercises Or The Forgiveness Process?

I hope this article will help you forgive the person that wronged you. It’s about time you were done with feeling so hurt. 

If you have any questions about forgiveness and how it improves your mental health, you can ask one in the comments section below. 

I’d love to see what you have to say and will get back to you as soon as I can.

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