#032 Forgiveness

#032 Forgiveness

Radical Forgiveness Worksheet -

Episode Transcript


Hi everyone - Happy New Year. Wish all of you a wonderful 2023.  Welcome to how to live, a podcast that explores ways to live a good life. I am your host Sharad Lal.This is episode 32.

The topic for today is Forgiveness. Isn’t it a great way to start the year by Forgiving?

By working through and letting go of that grudge we hold so tightly.

When we vow not to forgive - it usually does us more harm.

The grudge sits inside us as stuck energy - Resentment, anger, vengeance  


Forgiveness is not only relevant to big fall-outs where we stop talking to someone for years.

It’s equally - if not more important - to small hurtful acts in close relationships.

These are small - that can’t topple a relationship - so don’t get much attention.

But with time, they add up, creating bitterness in the closest of relationships.


In today’s episode we explore forgiveness

Why is it difficult?

Myths related to forgiveness

And how can we forgive

We share a practical tool that I’ve used for some micro-grudes. 

I found it refreshingly surprising how in just 30 minutes it shifted my anger to empathy and eventually acceptance. 

The tool - a simple two pager - is called Radical Forgiveness - a term coined by psychologist Colin Tippling.

It works well with the smallest of grievances and big fall-outs. 

Before getting into the episode

But before getting into this episode

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Back to the episode

Tony’s Story

Tony came out of the restaurant fuming.

He’d just had a huge showdown with his closest friend. 

Frantically pacing up and down the street

Tony felt Angry, violated and deeply hurt. 

He couldn’t drive - he was too angry 

So many petty things from the past were brought up

“Loser” kept echoing in his mind. 

That’s what his friends called him. 

He just couldn’t believe it

How could his closest friend insult him so badly?

After all those years - today he got to know what his friend truly thinks about him. 

Tony is never going to forget this, never going to forgive, and never going to talk to his friend again.  


Some of us experience fall-outs as dramatic as Tony

For some it’s a series of bad incidents 

While others just disconnect after being hurt 


In all cases many complex emotions arise within us

We feel trust is broken, years of love destroyed, and the damage cannot be repaired. 

At the core of this is what psychologists call the victim archetype

We feel like a victim. 

We’ve been wronged. Huge injustice has been done. 

This victim mentality is at the crux of what makes it so difficult to forgive. 

Not forgiving

However by not forgiving - the other person may or may not suffer

But we suffer immensely

A grievance - big or small - sits in us in the form of stuck energy. 

It’s like a box tightly packed to the brim with hateful emotions, nasty sound bytes and angry images 

Thumping on the table, words like loser, hurtful feelings - all this goes into that box.

As we move through life, we evolve and move on but this toxic part remains stuck in time. 

It keeps harming us. 

Either we go digging

Or the mention of the person or any related trigger brings this to the surface

We then relive all the difficult emotions again. 


As we were researching forgiveness, we realised this is not only applicable to big fallouts 

But forgiveness is also relevant for micro-grudges

Hurtful things that are not big enough to break a relationship but cause harm. Like

You didn’t speak up for me in that important moment

You didn’t attend my wedding. 

You’re always nasty to me in front of your friends 

In any long relationship, these unresolved micro-violations keep adding up.

Gradually bonds that start strong, become a little unhealthy

One sure sign of micro-grudges impacting relationships is when the past is constantly brought up in arguments.

It’s a sign that small wrongs have not yet been resolved

They still have stuck energy that’s causing bitterness

That’s why to keep a relationship healthy - it’s important to acknowledge hurtful behaviour, process it and forgive 

Easier said than done right?

Why is forgiving so difficult

So why’s it difficult to forgive?

This goes back to why we have a grudge in the first place.

It’s because we feel like a victim. 

Being a victim - contrary to what many think - is a very comfortable place to be in. 

We’re innocent

Somebody else has harmed us

We can pin all blame on them and have no guilt.

With time, however, doubt can come in. 

Like any victim - we need a protector.  

The good news is - All of us have a protector within us

It’s called the ego.

The ego doubles down on blaming the other person

Its job is to protect our self worth. 

If something’s gone wrong - it needs a villain.

They’re bad - we’re good. 

If we try to find the truth - the ego twists the story in our favour.

So the whole system within us works towards protecting our narrative. 

And ensuring we don’t forgive.  

Forgiveness Myths

Let’s now dispel a few myths which make it even more difficult to forgive

Here’s one - Forgiveness means forgetting.

But - we can forgive but not forget. 

We can still remember the incident, the lesson, everything. 

However, by forgiving - the incident does not make us angry anymore. 

The stuck energy is released. 

Another myth is that we need to talk to the other person to forgive

Maybe have this difficult conversation 

thrash it out

And then make up 

Or maybe like the movies 

When we see each other

We forget our anger and embrace each others

Tears in our eyes. 

All that can happen but 

But to forgive we don’t even need to see or talk to the other person.

We don’t even need to tell the person we’ve forgiven them. We can if we want to. 

Forgiveness is an internal process that we can do on our own. 

Some of us think that once we forgive, we need to go back to the relationship we once had

Again - we don’t need to. 

We can if we want to but it isn’t necessary. 

Lastly some of us think by forgiving - we approve of a person’s actions.

Again forgiving does not mean approval. 

We can still judge the actions as wrong but forgive for our sake. 

How do we forgive - What really happened

How do we forgive?

To be able to forgive one has to objectively understand what really has happened. 

This is difficult because we always have biassed information about any argument.

An argument is like an iceberg - only 10% of what’s going on is visible, 

The rest is hidden. 

Words exchanged are visible but the intention behind them, the spirit in which they were said, and underlying emotions are invisible.

What complicates matters even more is 

We can see what’s below the surface at our end, but cannot at the other person’s end 

We know our intentions and feelings, but not the other person’s.

With this extra information - which is in our favour - we make biassed judgements even if we are trying to be objective. 

To make it a level playing field - the other person’s intentions and feelings need to be uncovered. 

Deeper than this, there is another level of depth involved in every argument

The subconscious repressed stuff

Behavioural patterns

Defining experiences 

Hidden fears

And other blind spots

This includes our shadow as well - which we discussed in episode 26.

All these subconscious influences play a huge role in how we view an argument - our judgements, our expectations. 

This deepest level is even more complicated because it’s hidden even from us.


Going back to the iceberg analogy

Words spoken are on the surface

Intentions and feelings sit one level below the surface

And judgements, expectations sit at the deepest level. 


To figure out what really happened we need to uncover all that’s hidden. 

Radical Forgiveness: Tony’s story

Remember Tony

The guy at the start of the episode

Let’s look at Radical Forgiveness through his story. 

We’ll use a slightly altered version of the framework Tippling created

The first step is writing out our victim story. 

Tony wrote out why he felt like a victim.  

He was able to vent. It felt cathartic. 

Tony’s friend had recently divorced. 

He wanted to be there for his friend during this tough time.

But his friend made himself very busy - business travel, holidays, partying.

He was hardly around. 

They rarely hung out, lives started diverging, and the friendship turned sour. 

Tony would move many things around - plans with his wife, kids, work and make time for his friend - only to be stood-up or a last minute cancellation.


Tony felt like a victim 

While he was doing so much for their friendship - his friend didn’t care

His friend didn’t value him or the bond they had.


The second step is the first hidden level of the iceberg

Intentions and Feelings

Tony felt insulted in being snubbed all the time

He felt hurt, angry, cheated, taken advantage of. 

His intentions were around saving the friendship. 


The third step is listing expectations and judgements

Tony realised many of his expectations were unrealistic. 

Example - expecting his friend to hang out with couple-friends, kids, and enjoy the same things he did when he was married.  

Tony felt upset with himself. Why did he expect everything to remain the same after a divorce?

He went back to the intentions section and made a note

His friend’s intention wasn’t to ghost Tony. Instead it was to avoid couples. 

Tony also made many harsh judgements. 

There was one big judgement that he only realised 4 weeks later - which would bring about a huge shift. 

He judged his friend on his party lifestyle - Seeing party photos regularly on social media. 

In reality however - what upset Tony wasn't the partying but the new group of friends that his friend had made. 

They seemed to be thick - having so much fun together. 

Tony felt excluded. Cut-off. Deserted.  

This hit a nerve. 

His reaction was very strong - disproportionately strong.

As he thought about it - in all his failed relationships - the fear of “not being included” made him go slightly crazy and do unreasonable things. 

He still remembers in childhood and teenage years, friends and even family would secretly exclude him from plans. 

And now he feared his closest friend was shutting him off. 

This fear made him weirdly needy, and impose himself on his friend - who himself was suffering. 

This insight was the turning point


Not only did Tony start seeing things objectively - he uncovered a deep hidden fear that was affecting all other relationships as well 

With his wife, kids, and parents. 


Let’s take a step back.

Tony’s focus shifted - from his friend to himself

Tony’s energy shifted - from victimhood to potential for huge growth.

He felt a huge physical release 

Forgiving was very easy from this point. 


Core Negative Belief

One of Tony’s core negative beliefs was “being abandoned”. 

Here are some others 

not being good enough, not lovable, not feeling safe to speak-up, unworthy, I must suffer. 

These are created in early life and are often the core drivers of our negative behaviour. 


Often we may not find a deep negative belief in this exercise

But even without that one can find enough information to forgive. 

Some of us may go through this process and still feel a victim and not even find any lesson for growth. 

What do we do then? 

We can then turn to compassion. 

Compassion is difficult when someone has wronged you. 

This story by Mr Goenka - the man who popularised Vipassana, the 10 day silent retreat.  

A big man beating up someone half his size.

An onlooker feels sorry for the child but he feels even more sorry for the big man.

Imagine what this man will be going through inside his mind to commit such a ghastly act. 

That’s what compassion is. 


Compassion is a feeling. It’s not intellectual. 

You could also use techniques that the Dalai Lama suggests to find compassion. 

Close your eyes, imagine the person’s face. Look deeply. Isn’t he like anyone else? Wants to be happy. Wants to find peace. He’s like any other human being. 

Another way is to Imagine them as a baby. Young and innocent. Who, like everyone else, wants to find happiness. 

Through any of these give compassion a try if the radical forgiveness exercise doesnt work for you. 


Bottomline - Forgiveness is for ourselves. 

By releasing the stuck energy we can be at our best in other relationships and work. 

Action steps

As an action step, you could take one grievance from an important relationship and explore it. 

In the shownotes and the episode description, we’ll drop a link to the Radical Forgiveness worksheet. 

Use this worksheet to explore the grievance. 

Give yourself 30 minutes and experiment. 

See what happens. 

For the same grievance - you might need to do this exercise a few times. 

You need to feel the physical release yourself to see how powerful this exercise is.

If it works for you  - this tool is always available to release stuck energy. 

If you’d like the version I made for myself - you can hit us up on sharad.lal@mylifehouse.co.


Best of luck. 

Wish you a wonderful start to the year as you work towards forgiveness. 

I hope you enjoyed this episode

The next episode will be out two weeks from now on January 17.

Do join me for that. 

Till next time. 

Bye bye