How To Forgive Someone [Part 1]

  • The Importance of Forgiveness
  • Pain and Toxicity
  • What Forgiveness Is
  • A Process of Forgiveness
  • The Suffering
  • Letting Go
  • The Replay Button

William Wood: William Wood here. I’m here with the amazing Christian Vesterfelt and we are here today to talk about a really important subject. We’re going to be talking about the importance of forgiveness.

Forgiveness is such an important topic. Why? Because at least I can speak for myself. You can’t go through life very long without kind of bumping shoulders up against somebody or stubbing a toe and bruising a tender little relationship in some way. So when that happens, we all have a couple of choices. We can just keep on carrying the hurt, we can keep on carrying all of the junk inside of us that just weighs us down until our head explodes and it just pours out in a toxic, spew of venom that poisons everyone around us.

Everything, everything really. You think, “Oh, I can hide it, I can hide it. I just shove it down there a little bit more like you’re putting your foot in the garbage can. Just shoving it down a little bit more.” But the reality is that it comes out.

Christian Vesterfelt: It’s making your shoe dirty and then you go to work thinking that you’ve hidden all of that pain and toxicity and yet people can smell it on your shoe.

William Wood: It’s like dragging dog poop into the – all across the carpet. I remember a few years back, this is probably a little too graphic so I’ll try to tone it down a little bit. But my dog got a little sick and so there was a mess outside, like right outside the door. I didn’t see it, step squarly in it. All the way up the stairs, down the hall. The whole time I’m thinking something in here doesn’t smell that good. Before long I realized it’s me. “It’s me oh my gosh it’s me, I stink. I’ve got dog poop all over me.”

That’s kind of what it’s like to not let go of old stuff and so we’re here today to talk about this powerful idea that is forgiveness. How do you let go of this old stuff? How do you scrape the dog poo off of your shoes so you’re not stinking up all your relationships and making things hard.

Christian Vesterfelt: Without having to go and buy a brand new pair of shoes, although that might be a solution, but what can we do realistically in the five domains of freedom that we talk about, our area of specialization. What can we do? What can you all do? What are some daily practices that will help you scrape that dog poo off of you.

William Wood: So… we’re going to give you some practical tips and techniques. In fact by the end of the show today, you’re going to have at least one or two solid ideas. Things that you can wrap your arms around and actually put into practice right away. And why? Why should you do this? Because you’re going to feel better.

People are going to notice the shift in energy and you’re just going to be happier in your relationships whether it’s business relationships or whether they’re home relationships or with you friends or wherever it happens to be. So are you ready? Let’s buckle in. I’m putting down one buckle right now, like a racecar driver. And I’m putting down the other one. I’m all locked in, I’m ready to go here and let’s talk about what forgiveness is first and foremost. So why don’t you lead here, in your experience, how would you define forgiveness?

Christian Vesterfelt: That’s an incredibly powerful and simple, yet highly complicated question to answer. I was – interestingly I was talking to a client today about this very concept or practice. It’s not just a concept. Forgiveness is not just an idea. It’s an action. It’s an internal and it’s an external action. It’s a daily practice that we need to apply in our life. As I was talking to this individual, it was just the description that was given to me was almost like, what is that old, the night chain armor that they used to wear?

William Wood: The chain mail?

Christian Vesterfelt: It’s like this impenetrable chain mail kind of armor. That’s how difficult this individual was making forgiveness sound and it really can be but it doesn’t have to be.

As I was talking with him, I said “You know, look how about rather than looking at it that way, let’s look at it as a cell membrane. The cell wall and it’s poreous and it’s really not that, it’s not that hard to pierce through. I think in order to begin a process of forgiveness, there has to be first an acknowledgement that a hurt or an offense has taken place. Somebody has to have stepped on your toes. You have to have kicked somebody while they were down in order for the practice of forgiveness to begin.”

So a couple of things is, I think it would be valuable to understand what forgiveness is and then also understanding what forgiveness is not. Forgiveness is not condoning or glossing over.

William Wood: Oh, it’s okay. Yeah, it’s fine. I like being beat up, please do it again. You’re not doing that.

Christian Vesterfelt: Sure. I know you were unfaithful to me or I was unfaithful to you, but just forgive and forget and let’s move on.

William Wood: It’s not a big deal…

Christian Vesterfelt: I didn’t really mean to. That’s what forgiveness is not. It’s not a glossing over.

William Wood: Or saying it’s all okay.

Christian Vesterfelt: Yeah. It’s not just for the other person. Forgiveness is also for yourself. See? We tend to make forgiveness very outward focused. I need to forgive you and I need to forgive you, I need to forgive them. But forgiveness is not just for other people. Forgiveness also includes ourselves. So there’s a sense of the suffering that has taken place within yourself and it’s still holding on to the lack of forgiveness for yourself or another. So it’s the suffering. You mentioned this earlier. It’s the sense of suffering that you are experiencing as a result of getting hurt or offended. These are some of the initial foundations.

William Wood: Now Christian, I still haven’t heard a real solid definition of what hypnosis is. I don’t even know where that came from. That’s hilarious; I want to talk about hypnosis now. But no, I haven’t heard a real solid definition of what forgiveness is, so what is forgiveness? It’s not condoning, it’s not glossing over, it is what?

Christian Vesterfelt: You know how I experience forgiveness – it’s an acknowledgement and it’s coming to terms with whatever happened or whatever did not happen. Filling, letting that go, letting the hurt go and then replacing that with peace and love and happiness and I think that peace and love and letting go is at the core of forgiveness.

It’s not continuing to use whatever grievance happened to you as ammunition again and again. I think it’s coming to terms with that and moving forward. I don’t’ know, that’s how I’ve danced around it. So what is forgiveness for you? To you?

William Wood: I was thinking about it and I like really clear, short definitions. That doesn’t mean that the short definition has the whole thing. It’s like Einstein sums up this incredible concept with E equals MC squared right? I’m serious right. It’s like this short little thing and then we spent like volumes describing what that actually means.

So I would agree with you. I think that the short definition of forgiveness is simply letting go. Letting go of what? It’s letting go of the hurt that is eating you inside. It’s letting go of the pain, it’s letting go of the suffering. I think from a process stand point I agree, there’s an acceptance. An acceptance does not, is again not condoning. It’s not saying, “Oh, it’s okay you stole my hotdog and I feel okay about it right. I like having my hotdog stolen, really I’m glad you did it first, you know. It could have been some evil person that stole my hotdog but it was you.”

So it’s not condoning, it’s saying “Wow, I don’t like to have my hotdog stolen and you actually stole it. Right?” So, that’s like the first step is this acceptance piece and the second piece is saying and I have been carrying around anger, I have been carrying around sadness. I have been carrying around guilt. I have been carrying around shame and that is not serving me anymore and so I am going to let it go.

Christian Vesterfelt: You’re going to push the stop button. You’re going to hit the eject button for those of us who remember VHS, maybe our parents remember.

William Wood: Is that like an 8 track. I don’t know what that is.

Christian Vesterfelt: That’s what it is. An event happened. Somebody stole your hotdog. Somebody cut you off on the road. You had maybe a co- worker in your office who stole some intellectual idea and made it their own. You’re hanging onto this and what happens is we replay this through our memory over and over in our mind and in our heart. That’s where a lot of the great pains take place is the offense happened. It happened. We can’t undo it and it was really unfortunate.

What a tragedy it was and yet that moment has come and gone and in the present we are hitting the replay button. We’re listening to the audio. We’re watching the video, over and over and over again and who is this hurting? When you’re replaying the offense, the hurt, the grievance, who at this point is committing the offense again and again?

William Wood: It’s interesting. Another way that I’ve heard this described is that forgiveness is just giving back the guilt, the same, the blame. Where it belongs. If you’ve taken on some injury, you just take it out and kind of either give it up or let it float away or something like that.

How To Forgive Someone Part 2: The Power of Forgiveness and Shoe Poo

  • Why Would You Want To Forgive?
  • Free Yourself
  • You Can Powerwash
  • “But, I Forgive You”
  • He Was Hurt
  • Heart, This Is The Direction

William Wood: The topic for today is forgiveness. Now, this immediately sets some people on edge, they go, “Ah, I don’t want to do that or that’s painful or that’s something that causes pain or that’s an evil practice or something. Some Church teaches somewhere that I don’t want to have anything to do with.”

But we’re going to say, “Hang on. Listen. Just pause and listen and hear us out because forgiveness is something that can absolutely change your life.” Why would you want to forgive? You want to forgive because forgiveness or the lack of forgiveness, it affects you. We’re not talking about how it affects other people but it affects you.

The other day I was outside and I was walking through the yard and my dog had gotten a little sick and there was this giant mess of poo and I had stepped in dog poo. I didn’t realize it was on me and I’m going to the house and I’m thinking, “Man, something in here just stinks.” I’m squish, squish and I’m dragging it across the carpet. I’m grinding it into the floor, squish, squish. “Man, what stinks? This is terrible.”

Then before long, I realized it was me. I was the one with poo on my shoe. I had shoe poo and I was dragging the shoe poo to you. I feel like Dr. Sue is here. All over the house. It ended up taking me just a tremendous amount of time to go clean the carpets and in my mind, this is what it’s like to not forgive.

It’s holding on to shoe poo because you have been injured and you do feel bad and you don’t want to condone and you don’t want to say it was, or just gloss over it and say hey it was all fine. Because it’s not and you know that. Yet you continue walking through life with this shoe poo that everyone around you can smell. So why you want to forgive i.e. because it will make your life better.

Christian Vesterfelt: Freer.

William Wood: Yeah freer, freer. So what is forgiveness? Forgiveness in a nut shell is not condoning. Condoning means say like “Oh, well it’s okay. You stole my hotdog and I like stolen hotdogs. In fact stealing hotdogs is actually a really good thing, right? You know, it could have been an evil person that stole my hotdog but it was you and I am so glad if anyone were to steal my hotdog, it would be you. Right?”

So, that is not what forgiveness is. That’s what most people associate with. They associate it with saying, “Hey, not a big deal or you know what, just forget about it.” That is not what we’re talking about.

Just a minute ago, Christian and I were going back and forth and we were saying, what is forgiveness? I   think we boil it down to like, one sentence. So Christian, how would you define forgiveness?

Christian Vesterfelt: Forgiveness as you said is an acknowledgement that an offense happened but forgiveness is the ability, the internal and the external ability and here it is, to free yourself from the hurt and the pain. Then to fill that release with peace and love.

William Wood: Yeah, it’s letting go. Forgiveness means letting go of the hurt, it means letting go of the past. It means letting go of the things that are gnawing at your very soul that you think that you’ve shoved down into a deep, dark corner but come out in every work you speak.

They come out in your body language. You sub-communicate these things all day long. So, that’s what it is and why it’s so important.

Just earlier today I was talking to a friend of mine, he had been trying to solve an issue inside of an important relationship. As we were talking, he really realized that he had been hacking away at the leaves of the problem. But the trunk of the problem or the root of the problem was that he held deep resentment and bitterness for old wounds that had been inflicted. So, every time he tried to relate to this person, he couldn’t do it without just feeling hate.

The hate was not only poisoning the relationship but it was poisoning his mind. Even when he would not be with this particular person and he was out talking to other people, this hate would suddenly rear it’s head. Like and angry dragon.

I said to him, “I think until you let this go you’re life is going to be miserable.” He paused and he got really quiet and he said “I think you’re right. I think you’re right.” So we’re not saying to condone, we’re not saying to gloss over. We’re not saying to excuse a behavior that should not be excused. I mean when hotdogs are stolen it can be a painful thing. Right? Whatever it is, something much more serious than that. If there is an offense that should not be glossed over, the event itself may need to be dealt with but the pain and the suffering can end.

Christian Vesterfelt: It can end.

William Wood: It can end and you can end it. If you have been living a nightmare because something has happened to you years and years ago, you can let it go. You can move on and you can step out of the clouds and the darkness into sunshine. You can power wash the shoe poo off your shoe.

Christian Vesterfelt: So, as a couple of things, as I was preparing for this particular show, I came across probably one of the most moving clips ever. We’ve been talking about shoe poo and stolen hotdogs and you know that’s something that really…

William Wood: It’s just the way my mind works.

Christian Vesterfelt: At least they’re separated.

William Wood: I know.

Christian Vesterfelt: Unless of course you really wanted to get at the person -that evil person who is going to steal your hotdog. You could have cleaned your shoe with the hotdog. This moved me to tears when I watched this. When we’re talking about the power of forgiveness and what it really – what it does for an individual.

So, there’s the situation back on November 5th of 2003. There was a man by the name of Gary Leon Ridgeway. 54-year-old man and he admitted to and was found guilty for killing 48 women. At this point this had made him the biggest serial killer in US history. He was nicknamed the Green River Murderer.

What happens in court in a situation like this is family members of the victim have an opportunity to confront to perpetrator. So, family member after family member was getting up and they were just lamb basting, they were spewing toxic, vile comments and saying “I hope you rot in Hell for years and years to come.”

You could tell that there was so much pain and anguish and you could see in the countenance in each of the individuals. Then and elderly man by the name of Robert Rule who is a father of one of the victims, stands up and he’s silent and he looks at Gary Leon Ridgeway and he said something to the effect of, this is a summary, this isn’t a quotation.

He said, “There are a lot of people in here who have been hurt by your actions and many of them hate you. Because of your actions it is making what I have been taught and have tried to live my life very difficult. But Gary, I forgive you.”

Now this man who had been getting all of this negative, vile hatred was just completely stone faced all throughout it. Every person who got up and said something and this, I would say an evil person, who had shut himself down, when somebody had the courage to stand up and say “You have done something to me that is so hurtful, but I forgive you.”

The entire court room broke down in tears. This calloused, cold hearted man himself was moved to tears. So, when we’re talking about the power of forgiveness, yes we might be joking around but it literally has the ability in a moment to change the environment. If this man is capable of forgiving, I think I can find it in me to also forgive others.

William Wood: It’s a beautiful story. A few years back, many years back, I was a Boy Scout. I was part of a Boy Scout troop. This is why it’s like many, many years. If you look at the top of my head I’ve lost most of my hair, so I was a young man at the time. Probably 11 or 12 years old. I was young. I was with my troop and we went to a lake in Southern Alaska. Near Anchorage called Buyer’s Lake.

I don’t remember how far out it is, it might be like an hour or two outside of town. It was in the middle of nowhere, total peace. Total serenity. We took our canoes and we paddled to the far end of the lake. Then there was this hike that wound it’s way up to the top of the mountain ridge.

One of my good friends there, he was the butt end of a cruel joke. A bunch of the older boys, they filled his day backpack up with rock all the way up the hill. About 40 lbs. of rocks. He started to complain about it like “Man, my backpack feels so heavy.” Then they started to razz him. “Oh, well maybe you’re not that strong. Maybe you’re just not a good hiker.” He’s like “No. Ssomething is wrong.” They’re like “No, no it’s you. You’re just being weak, quit complaining.”

So, he hikes 5 or 6 miles up this mountain top with a backpack full of rocks. When he got to the top of the mountain, he unzipped his backpack to find his lunch. He found that not only had they filled his backpack with rocks, but they had also eaten his lunch.

Christian Vesterfelt: Oh no.

William Wood: He had some candy and I think some chips and some cinnamon bears. They had eaten all of his snacks and left him with a backpack full of rocks. So, here is he after a half day of hiking, all because it was a steep climb. Maybe a couple hours, I don’t know how long exactly. A couple hours at least up this mountain top. Backpack full of rocks, no food.

He was hurt. He was hurt. There’s only one thing that would have been worse than carrying a backpack full of rocks all the way up 6 miles. That would have been putting the backpack back on with all of those rocks and hiking all the way back down. That to me is the essence of why we should forgive. It’s not to say that it was okay that the boys ate his lunch, it’s not okay to say that those boys should have put rocks in, “Oh, don’t worry about it. I’m strong, I survive.” Ha, it was kind of funny. It wasn’t funny, it was cruel. But at some point we’ve got to unload the rocks. So how do you do that?

Christian Vesterfelt: Myself, one of my own practices. When I am going through the process of forgiveness and when I’m working with clients in my therapeutic setting, when we’re talking about whatever happened, I ask them “What is in your heart? What do you want? Do you want to hang onto this? Or do you want to be able to get to a point in your life where it’s no longer this Millstone around your neck. These thistles in your heart.”

One of the things at the very beginning, is I encourage, I invite the individual to set the intention at the beginning. Acknowledging that forgiveness may not happen right away, but at least it is setting the intention that at some point, my goal in life is to be able to fully forgive you. So what this does is by setting the intention of I am going to forgive you, and I’m going to forgive myself, this sets a compass within our heart.

It says, heart this is the direction that you want to be moving toward. Then we start working forward. That’s the beginning, that’s where I like to start with individuals is to set the intention.

How To Forgive Someone Part 3: Words and Imagery Create Forgiveness

  • Unload the Rocks
  • Simple, Little Process
  • Unresolved Energy Inside
  • You Stole My Hotdog
  • I Choose Now To Let It Go
  • Position Of Power
  • “I Don’t Want To Hold On To This Anymore”
  • Giant Handshake

William Wood: At some point we’ve got to unload the rocks. So, how do you do that? We’ve got a couple of practical suggestions and I’m going to give some suggestions and then I’m going to turn it over to Christian.

Our goal is that by the end of this recording you actually have a couple of practices that you can do to let go, to empty our your backpack and to move on when you come up against life’s challenges. Because come up against an offense you will if you have not already.

So, there’s a simple little process that you can use without ever even talking to the other person. I do this myself on a regular basis and you can do this with a journal or you can do it with a notepad or I have a whiteboard that sometimes I’ll do this in my office.

What we can do is we can us our words and we can use our imagination to move beyond an offense. So, what I’ll do is on my whiteboard for example, I will draw like the outline of a body. I’m not an artist so I take like a million years to do it, but I can draw like a little outline of a person there. Then I might even like write the persons name on it. We’ll say this persons name is Fred. So I’ll write Fred on the whiteboard. Let’s say that Fred had done something bad, maybe he had stolen something from me. Stolen my hotdog or he had offended me in some way, or he had eaten my lunch and put rocks in my backpack.

Well what I would do is there’s all this unresolved energy inside and so what I’m going to do is I’m going to talk to the whiteboard. I’m going to use my imagination, put that person in front of me and I’m going to literally finish speaking out to them the things that I wish that I could have said or shouldn’t have said or have been stuffing down into a deep dark corner.

The first thing I’m going to do is I’m going to use my words to heal. You can do this with a piece of paper as well. You can write down the different ideas that come to you, dear Fred, you stole my hotdog. That made me really mad, and then you put rocks in my backpack and made fun of me. I’d write it all out and then once I wrote it all out then I would simply say I choose now to let this go.

If I feel like It’s appropriate I’ll even take it one step further and say I forgive you. Then if it’s appropriate I might even add “Will you forgive me for holding onto this for so long?”

That’s the first part of the practice. Now the second part of the practice, I’ve done that for ages. Now the second part of the practice I learned from someone else. What he observed is that when people are done, when they get done forgiving someone the mental imagery that they have around that person or around the relationship is still strained, they’ll see a great distance or they’ll see them still holding anger or maybe standing away with their back facing the person.

He said change the mental imagery. So go inside and how would you like that relationship to look? Maybe you don’t want to have a relationship with them, but could you still imagine bringing light into that person, or could you imagine that person getting in touch with their highest bad best self? Could you imagine yourself standing in a position of power and strength, but how are you standing and how are they standing? Are you standing in a cowering position? Or in a broken position? Or are you standing tall and proud and strong? Change the image to represent the image of how you’d like the relationship.

Just recently last night I was doing this with someone who had offended me. It wasn’t appropriate for me to talk so I was journaling it out. I had journaled out all these things so I journaled out here’s what happened, I acknowledge all of the things that had happened. Here’s the things that I felt from you, here’s how it made me feel. Here’s the pain and the suffering that it’s caused me. Then I got done and I got it all on paper and I just said, but I don’t want to hold onto this anymore, I’m ready to let it go.

So, I am ready to let it go now. “I forgive you, can you forgive me for holding onto it?” Then I was done and I closed my journal and I closed my eyes and I imagined this person. And I imagined going over to them and giving them a giant handshake, just shaking their hand. And kind of putting a brotherly arm up on their shoulder as if to say I’ve let this go.

I put in the image, I put light and I put brilliance and I made myself standing strong and they were standing strong. There was like good energy coming out from both of us. I feel a lot better this morning.

Is it all the way done? I don’t know only time will tell because how do you know when it’s done? You know when it’s done when all the energy is gone, but here’s the beauty. If there’s more energy around it I can repeat the process, I can do it again. There are many other ways to forgive.


How To Forgive Someone Part 4: Separate Facts From Emotions

  • “I Cried For Weeks”
  • Identifying That You’ve Been Hurt
  • Forgiveness Is A Process
  • Say Your Intention
  • Be Patient
  • Write Only The Emotions
  • Clean Language
  • Writing The Facts and The Emotions

Christian Vesterfelt: I remember many years ago, I want to say I was in like fourth or fifth grade and one of my closest friends had invited me to go with him and his entire family to Disney Land in California. I was so excited, so incredibly excited and then I was getting myself all packed, my parents had given me approval and I was packing my bags.

Kevin called me up and he says “Sorry Christian, I can’t let you go.” I was devastated. I was so crest fallen. I mean even as I’m telling this I’m feeling some of that energy right now. I was so crest fallen. I cried for weeks afterwards. A promise had been made and the promise had been broken.

Again an offense or an aggrevance can either be inflicted or can be withheld. A couple of things that I really find to be highly effective in helping move along the process of forgiveness is first of all as we’ve already talked about, identifying that you’ve been hurt. Identifying the hurt and respecting the emotion that you have because it’s real.

So to sit here and to say you know what, that feeling, that emotion, just set it aside. I think is not doing the whole process of forgiveness true justice. As a matter of fact in order to really benefit from forgiving you have to acknowledge the emotion that you had and understanding that forgiveness is a process.

So, forgiveness can takes place through layers, layer upon layer, upon layer. So at the beginning at the onset after we’ve acknowledged that an offense has taken place and you have respected and identified at least one of the emotions, if not all of the emotions because there’s probably more than just one emotion. It’s not only effecting just one way of thinking or one behavior.Set your intention, set your intention to forgive and to forgive completely.

Now does this mean that you have been able to forgive immediately? Possibly.

There’s this whole idea out there, this observation of quantum change, where people will within an hour be able to forgive and move forward and fill that vid with peace and love and comfort and relaxation. A lot of people aren’t though. So set your intention at the beginning that you have the desire to forgive. Then identify in your body where you are storing this pain, where in your body are storing the memory, the anguish as a result of the grievance. The offense.

As you go through this process I invite you to be patient, to respect the process. One of the things that I really find to be highly effective with the clients that I work with is I will have them write a letter and what they will do is they will write objectively, only the facts. They will write down as they saw it, observable behaviors in a letter.

The idea is to be as objective as you possibly can so for like example rather than say it felt warm, you can say the sun was shining at this particular time. So you rank down the objective facts, everything around the event or the events that took place. Okay, so once you have written down the actual history, you set that to the side and now go through and write only the emotions. I don’t want to hear any objective facts I want this to be how did you on that subjective, emotional mental level experience this?

Be honest. Be uncut, unfiltered, be raw and this is where it might be a little uncomfortable for some people but if you’re experiencing a particular emotion and you try to filter it, if you try to temper it, you try to use clean language then you might not actually be giving really justice to what you’re feeling.

So, go in and write emotionally your experience then the next part is you bring those two together, you merge them, you merge the objective and then the subjective. You bring the facts and then you bring in the emotions and you weave a new tail.

As you do this, you’re going to find that you’re going to see the event more clearly because you’ve been deliberate in your process of writing the facts and the emotions and you’re getting it outside of you. When you’re journaling you’re using energy and you’re connecting your hand with the pen and applying that pen or that pencil to the paper for however long whether it’s one minute or it’s three hours that you’re writing.

It’s an incredible intimidate process. So that’s one of the exercises that I like to do and if you feel comfortable, maybe share that with somebody who you feel confident will be able to keep that in confidence.

How To Forgive Someone Part 5: Start Small and Use Helium

  • You Can Start With Something Simple
  • Benefits Of Forgiveness
  • Appreciate Sorrow
  • The Magical Thing
  • Acceptance