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Forgiveness: The Four-Fold Path to Peace and Healing

Angeli Sivaraman
Angeli Sivaraman
5 min read
Forgiveness: The Four-Fold Path to Peace and Healing
"I stole your blanket. Please forgive me." - Rocco

Table of Contents

Hi everyone! Hope everyone is having a good weekend :)

Today we will talk about forgiveness and the 4-fold path to healing.

I learned about this path by reading The Book of Forgiveness: The Four-Fold Path to Healing Ourselves and Our World by Desmond Tutu and his daughter, Mpho Tutu.

Desmond Tutu was a spiritual teacher and social rights activist. What is so compelling about his story is he helped South Africa recover from its brutal history of apartheid by using forgiveness as a tool to help heal the country and move forward.

If that isn't a testament to the power of forgiveness, then I don't know what is.

Before we get into forgiveness...

One thing we have to remember is that humans hurt humans. We are wired to be imperfect and in that way, we are apt to hurt someone just the way we have all been hurt by someone. Even if we don't mean to.

We are just seriously flawed in that way.  We all have good hearts; it's just sometimes we forget to listen. This can be a reminder of our shared humanity.

What forgiveness is:

  • An acceptance of what happened
  • A release of resentment and feelings of revenge
  • An active choice
  • A journey
  • A recognition of our shared humanity

What forgiveness is not:

  • Condoning or excusing any harmful or abusive behavior
  • Forgetting what happened
  • Easy or quick
  • A sign of weakness - (it actually takes courage and strength to forgive)

Why do we want to forgive?

  • To reclaim our inner peace
  • To reclaim our power
  • To set free any hurt or resentment

What if we don’t forgive?

  • Our happiness then lies in the hands of the one(s) who hurt us, meaning we lose our power
  • We hold onto a lot of bitterness and self-hatred
We don't forgive for others; we forgive for ourselves.

In doing so, we reclaim our inner peace and happiness and let go of any lingering and painful feelings.

There are two types of forgiveness.

One is conditional, meaning you wait for the person to apologize to then forgive.

The other is unconditional, meaning you forgive anyways, apologies or nada.

It's worth learning how to forgive unconditionally.

A story: a person I dated in the past reached out recently, to my surprise, to apologize for something that happened between us a couple of years ago. And even though what had happened had hurt, I chose to walk my own four-fold path in order to heal myself and to forgive the situation.

Before his apology.

Had I waited all that time to forgive, I could have harbored a lot of hurt feelings. And what if he didn’t reach out?  The pain could have eaten me alive!

I like freedom and peace better. And he deserves to be forgiven.

So I let him know that he is forgiven.

Another story: I recently hurt a friend too. I sent a gift to a friend that didn’t land right. In fact, it really hurt her feelings given a difficult situation she is going through.

Luckily, she was able to share her story with me and name her feelings.  By her sharing with me, we were able to hold space for one another's feelings and renew our friendship (thank goodness!).

It was and is her choice to forgive me and it is my choice to forgive myself ♥

So without further ado, here are the steps to the four-fold path.

The Four-Fold Path of Forgiveness:

  1. Tell your story: the first step to forgiving is to tell your story, from your own point of view. A great way to do this is to journal, or if you feel ready (and safe enough) to relay this to the person, you could do that as well.
  2. Name your hurts: this helps to bring your feelings to light. If you can’t find the words for your feelings, that's okay too. Feeling your feelings is enough to start.
  3. Forgive: this is the step where you would want to forgive. This is where you may recognize the shared humanity of those who have harmed you. Remember, humans hurt humans, and all of us are connected. Forgiveness is about acceptance. It is an active choice. It is not a step you want to rush to get to before you are ready. When you do forgive, your story changes from victimhood to authentic power.
  4. Release or renew the relationship: after discussing with the party that hurt you (if that’s an option) or after the above three steps, you can decide to release or renew the relationship. A release could be temporary or indefinite, and a renewal can be revisited if needed. There’s no wrong decision here, just listening to what is right for you.

The above steps are not linear. Sometimes you make it to step two and then need to go back to step one. Perhaps you do that several times before you make it to three.

Perhaps you’ve made it to three and still need to revisit how you feel.

And maybe you choose to release something but have a hard time doing that. Or maybe you have renewed a relationship and want to reconsider at a later date.

All of the above are completely acceptable. The key is to feel into your body and what is feeling right in that moment.

Some other questions I had about forgiveness:

Do you have to discuss the situation with the person who hurt you in order to forgive?

You do not have to do this. There have been many times in my life where I wasn't granted the opportunity to discuss with others. I learned to forgive anyways.

Can you forgive yourself?

Absolutely and I definitely encourage this. It’s a way to remember, hey I’m human and apt to make mistakes. I am not perfect, and wasn't designed to be. I accept myself and I learn from my mistakes.

Can you ask for forgiveness?

You absolutely can, and remember to show remorse and to take accountability for your actions.  Try not to excuse your behavior, as that weakens your apology. Also remember, you must allow the person to choose to forgive you; it’s their choice.

The Bottom Line

Forgiveness is kind of a superpower, in my humble opinion. One that could really change the world. In our current world of hurts & trauma, forgiveness is honestly a necessity.

There are stories from all around the world about the incredible act of forgiveness.

What stories of forgiveness would you want to share?

Please share this post if it resonated with you!

Sending love to all!

"Forgiveness is nothing less than the way we heal the world. We heal the world by healing each and every one of our hearts." - Desmond Tutu


  1. "The Book of Forgiving: The Four-Fold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World." Tutu, Desmond and Tutu, Mpho. Harper One: 2014.


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Angeli Sivaraman is a spiritualist, meditator, nature junkie, and dog mom. She is the creator of Sage Elephant, a blog about spirituality and wellness. She can be reached by email!