In Martin Seligman’s book Authentic Happiness, he discusses an incredible technique for practicing forgiveness. I believe forgiving people is essential because the lack of forgiveness fills you with hatred, self-pity, and anger that is not healthy. The point of forgiveness is not for the other person but for becoming a more compassionate and happy individual. Sometimes forgiving people is the hardest thing we can ever do. Due to this, I want to dedicate this blog post to exploring how to forgive others.

What Does The R & E Stand For?

The book speaks about the acronym REACH. R stands for recalling the hurt. Visualize that scenario. If what you are trying to remember is traumatic to you in any way, make sure you are in a safe space, and you may want to be with someone to support you or practice deep breaths to relax. To give an example for this acronym, I will be explaining the time a doctor told me as a kid that I had a muscle-wasting condition without sugar-coating the situation in any way. To recall the hurt, I remember when the doctor told me what was wrong with me. 

E stands for empathizing. This stage requires you to attempt to understand the perspective of the person or people that hurt you. Seligman says that you should make up a plausible story. My favorite way to do this is to think of the situation forced on the person who hurt you. Maybe they were unaware their actions would hurt you, have trouble controlling their anger, or come from a different background than you. The doctor could have been exhausted from long work hours, ran behind schedule and needed to reach their next patient quickly, or wanted his students to get as much experience as possible. 

What Does The A, C, & H Stand For?

A stands for giving an altruistic gift of forgiveness. This gift represents you trying to help the person that hurt you become a better human being. The idea here is that you rise above ideas of revenge/anger and be the better person. Helping others is one of my greatest feelings, and I would remarkably recommend this step. Other than feeling grateful towards that doctor, I have not given him a generous gift or seen him since the diagnosis. If I were, I could express my gratitude for the path this doctor has led me down. Because of him, I have more energy than I have ever before and know what I want to do with my life. The gift can be a physical object, or you can express the positive impact on your life to be grateful. 

C stands for committing yourself to forgive publicly. Instead of telling yourself you forgive a person, this requires you to write a letter, say it to someone you know, write a poem or song, or say it to the person’s face. I recommend finding which method you prefer and committing to doing that to forgive people. I have told my parents that I forgave the doctor who did not lighten the emotional load. I expressed to them that it was better to know the issues as it allowed me to make the best of my situation. H stands for holding onto forgiveness. This simply means that when you forgive someone, you do not take that forgiveness back. You will most likely have memories of what that person did to you, but you need to remind yourself that you have forgiven them. If you followed all the previous steps, it might be helpful to review with yourself what you did to forgive in the first place. Be happy you that forgave and acted like the better person. To this day, I continue to have the same mindset of the positives from the situation and am grateful for the doctor. 

Why Should You Forgive?

Martin Seligman’s book addresses that those who practiced this acronym had less anger, less stress, more optimism, better-reported health, and more forgiveness. It also feels better to think of yourself as someone who can transcend anger and sadness, become a better person, and forgive people who have done wrong to you. By doing this, you could even improve the life of the person who hurt you, and by helping them become a better person, you may stop them from hurting others. In my experiences, I have found that anger and hatred have no beneficial use for me. It would keep me up at night, make me more aggressive to those that I love around me, and stop me from enjoying events in my life. I would greatly recommend forgiving people, and this acronym is my favorite way to forgive other people so far.