Forgiveness is a concept that’s often discussed but rarely understood. When we allow it to transform our perspective on a situation or person, it’s radical and can benefit us by letting anger go and growing beyond our pain.
It’s no secret that I’m a huge believer in the power of forgiveness, and I want to share more about the transformative power of Radical Forgiveness and its ability to heal deep emotional wounds.
At its core, forgiveness is the act of letting go of anger, resentment, and negative emotions toward someone we believe has wronged us in some way. This process is difficult and requires courage, empathy, and willingness to allow ourselves to move beyond the pain.
It’s not just about letting go but also about radical transformation. For us and for the person we forgive.
Radical Forgiveness: Life-Changing Perspective Shifting
I’m certified as a Radical Forgiveness Master Coach through the Radical Living Institute.
It’s a process that changed me at my core. How I viewed myself, my hurts, and my life. It allowed me to understand things in a way that allowed me to take power back where it was gone and shape my perspective into one that led with love.
Today, I use the tools of Radical Forgiveness and other tools I’ve developed in my coaching business to help guide people through the forgiveness process. In doing this, they can let go of blame, shame, guilt, and regret, letting them claim their lives back. It’s something that we can all benefit from and starts with a willingness to go through it for our betterment and the betterment of those around us.
It’s a process that goes beyond traditional forgiveness. It requires us to shift our perspective from one where we’re victims to one where we understand, are compassionate, and even grateful. It’s about recognizing that even the most painful experiences in our lives serve higher purposes when we allow them to help us release and grow.
Victimhood Or Victim Consciousness
When I’m talking about being a victim, it’s when you perceive yourself as having been damaged or injured in a particular way by someone else. Because of their behaviors or actions, you are unable to feel peace. They’re the cause of your anger and/or unhappiness, and as such, your victim story resides in you as part of your victim consciousness.
When we look at things through a victim lens, the blame for everything that’s not good in our lives lies out there with everything and everybody rather than within our own selves. When this happens, we don’t take responsibility for our thoughts, feelings, actions, or even our non-actions. We react, and there’s little feeling of power or control when it’s reactionary.
The five stages of Radical Forgiveness are a unique and powerful process developed by Colin Tipping. He is the founder of the Radical Forgiveness Institute. The stages he developed help us move from anger, hurt, and victimhood to a place of understanding, compassion, and healing.
Because I believe so strongly in these five stages and their transformative power to shift perspective and bring you inner peace, I want to share them with you and give some context.
Five Stages of Radical Forgiveness
The first stage of Radical Forgiveness is telling the story. In this stage, we share our feelings and acknowledge the pain and hurt we feel about a wrong in our lives. This storytelling involves talking about the person who wronged us or the situation that pains us and allowing ourselves to feel the full range of emotions accompanying it. In doing this, we tell the victim story. We come at it from the victimized angle because it’s what we feel we have been–victimized. This is important because it’s likely the story you’ve told yourself repeatedly about this situation or person, and you’re likely even tired of it yourself. But you can’t get to the next stage without expressing the perceived violations and validating the feelings one last time.
In the second stage, you allow yourself to feel the emotions of the situation without judgment or resistance. You acknowledge there is great anger, sadness, hurt, or other emotion. You can’t do it by talking about it or analyzing it–you do it by FEELING it. In a safe way, of course, but with physical feeling and then physical release.
This may be awkward at first, as most of us weren’t taught to feel our feelings but to tuck them away so we weren’t being cry babies or unable to control our feelings. Many of us did not have healthy or safe environments to learn about releasing emotions, so really feeling them is weird at first. The sad part is that if we were only taught that sitting with our emotions and feeling them instead of feeling victim to them and having to talk them through, we’d likely have saved ourselves years of heartache.
The third stage is about shifting our perspective by collapsing the story. This makes many bristle at first because it involves recognizing that our story of what’s happened is just a story…and there may actually be other ways to look at the situation or person who wronged us.
It’s important to note that I am NOT advocating rewriting a new narrative or accepting one if someone tries to shove it down your throat without acknowledging your legitimate feelings. We all have emotions wrapped in our stories. That’s what loops them in our minds over and over…and we don’t want to give our stories up because they become who we are in many ways.
It’s hard not to be skeptical of giving up the story we’ve intrinsically developed in our brains and our bones as THE WAY it went down. I understand. I wasn’t really willing to collapse some of my stories either. The beauty of Radical Forgiveness is that it gives your head something to do so your heart can heal, as long as you’re willing to go through the process–it works despite our skepticism.
You see, when we tell our stories; we add the witness statements and drama to them. If a reporter were telling our story, they’d look at the facts. Sometimes, if we’re willing to admit that feelings may have colored the narrative, we can look at facts versus our interpretations of facts based on feelings.
A personal example in my life that I discovered with my forgiveness coach was a number pattern in my relationships. It led me back to when my dad left my family when I was just five. With my coach, I looked at the patterns in my life. My first marriage was five years. My second–five and a half, and my third was ten years. My first job was one I stayed at for ten years. My second was one I stayed at for 20.
As I discussed these numbers with my coach, she recognized a common factor–FIVE. She asked what happened to me when I was five, and that’s when I realized that subconsciously, my dad leaving our family for another family who had a daughter my age and who looked like me made five a fragile factor. Subconsciously, I’d developed the belief that every man I loved would choose someone over me, and it would typically be associated with a five-year factor.
Wild, right? But true (until the marriage I’m in now, and thank goodness I’d done all the forgiveness work first to get here!)
The facts were that my parents divorced, and my dad left and moved in with another family. My feelings (my interpretation) told me that every man I’d ever love would choose someone else, and I’d have to work hard to get love. And when I did? It hurt. This subconscious victim story showed itself everywhere–in my relationships, career, and life. Thankfully, I have 20 years of sobriety this year, but before my sobriety, I drank over the feelings of inadequacy this perspective I’d developed gave me.
That’s why the Fourth Stage is so important. It’s where you reframe the experience. It’s where you find the lesson, or gift, in the situation. It involves recognizing there is a purpose in everything, and that may include a higher purpose for pain.
It’s not easy, but when you allow yourself to be open to the possibility that even the bad in your life can allow you to bring forth good, you can look at things with a shift in perspective. You can maybe look at life happening FOR you instead of TO you.
It’s just the lens that we use to look at it. If we’re to move to the Fifth Stage, we have to learn to do the forgiveness work and reframe the situation and our feelings about it or the person. Doing so allows us to process differently and move into that final stage, Integration.
In this stage, we integrate the experience as one that makes us who we are and brings us acceptance and a new sense of peace. Best of all, it is where we realize WE have the power to choose how we respond to any situation and that forgiveness is a choice we can make–we have that control.
Throughout the Radical Forgiveness process, you go through letting go of layers. You let go of doubts, fears, and stories. You create an awareness of your responsibility and power to choose and make decisions.
If we’re really honest with ourselves…going through the process will also allow us to see where we may have given our power away, and there is power in regaining it. When we blame others for our feelings or situations–we give THEM our energy and our power. They’re not taking it; we’re giving it.
Of course, not every situation in our life is like this–sometimes, we are tragically traumatized and truly victimized. I’m talking about when we continue to let victimization keep us stuck and not enjoy the lives we were created to live. When we reframe and regain our power in our choices and feelings, we can choose NEW stories!
We get to choose how we want to feel, what we want to value, and how we want to move forward. We get to be kinder to ourselves and take steps toward self-care and understanding. We empower ourselves by taking responsibility for what we can control–US!
The five stages of Radical Forgiveness give a powerful framework for shifting our perspective and transforming negative emotions through release. This helps us move forward and live our best lives with a renewed sense of peace, acceptance, and even gratitude for our challenges.
If you want to learn more about Radical Forgiveness, you can check out Colin Tipping’s book called Radical Forgiveness – A revolutionary five-stage process to heal relationships – Let go of anger & blame & find peace in any situation.