Recall the Hurt in a Neutral Way

April 12, 2015

Categories: Forgiveness

This post is Part 4 in an 8-part blog series on forgiveness. (If you missed the first post, you can find it here.)


In Part 4, I want to talk to you about recalling the hurt in a neutral way.

Dr. Everett Worthington came up with a model to help people forgive. People have used this model to help themselves forgive all sorts of people, from strangers to family and friends.

There are 5 steps in the model, and you can remember the model using the acronym REACH. Today we are going to focus on the first step: Recall the hurt in a neutral way.

Often when people are hurt, they recall the hurt in a way that makes forgiveness more difficult. For example, they might ruminate about what happened, thinking over and over again about how awful the person was who hurt them. They might replay the hurt again and again in their mind, becoming angrier with each repeat. They might fantasize about revenge or how they might get back at the person who hurt them.

These ways of recalling the hurt can actually impede forgiveness.

The alternative is to recall the hurt in a more neutral way. This way of remembering the hurt allows you to see the hurt for what it is—not minimizing what happened but not exaggerating what happened either.

One exercise that can help you recall the hurt in a neutral way is to visualize what happened from the perspective of a 3rd party observer. Perhaps you could even think of yourself as a news reporter, who has to objectively talk about what happened. You might write down a summary of what happened from this perspective. Getting some distance from the story can allow you to recall the hurt in a more neutral way, which can help forgiveness.

Action Step: Take out a sheet of paper. Write a summary of what happened. But this time, don’t write from your perspective as the one who was hurt. Instead, write the summary from the perspective of a news reporter. Try to report the facts as neutrally as you can. Don’t let opinions or judgments sneak into your summary. Just stick to the objective facts.

Click here to read Part 5: The Importance of Empathy


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