4 Steps for Releasing Guilt and Gaining Forgiveness

Feeling guiltyQuite often I correspond with betrayed spouses who claim that their spouse is not helping in the healing process because of the guilt that they feel as a result of their affair. This simple 4-step process may help with this issue.

While searching for appropriate content for the Higher Healing area the other day, I came across an audio interview with David Richo, Ph.D., M.F.T. He’s a psychotherapist, teacher, workshop leader, and writer who works in Santa Barbara and San Francisco.

The interview was on the subject of grace in relationships and was quite interesting and it motivated me to Google him and ultimately check out his work a little further. Below is an article that was included in a compilation manual that contains numerous excerpts from some of the books he has authored. We thought it might be helpful for some of you.

Releasing Guilt and Forgiveness

Release from guilt can happen with these steps:

  1. Acknowledge to yourself how you may have failed in loving your partner by any willful deficit in attention, acceptance, appreciation, affection, or allowing freedom of individuality. Have you refused to address, process, or resolve issues? Have you placed selfish concerns over those of the relationship, shown disrespect, lied, betrayed, disregarded feelings, let your anger erupt into abuse, disappointed your partner, broken an agreement, denied responsibility for your actions or choices, gossiped, not respected privacy, taken advantage, used your partner, manipulated or been controlling, been greedy, acted in a retaliatory way, etc.? Devising your list requires a careful examination of conscience. It calls for a willingness to see your own inadequacies and a desire to work on them.
  1. Admit your deficiencies in words to the person you have offended showing your sincere feelings of sadness and regret (the essence of repentance).
  1. Take action by making amends wherever and however possible.
  1. Resolve not to repeat the behavior. This may include making a plan that in the future you will police yourself or ask for feedback about how you are slipping back into the old behavior.

This program makes for a move from alienation to reunion, even a closer union between you. It also leads to the creation of an atmosphere of mended failures. It fosters healthy vulnerability and diminishment of ego which leads to less hurtful behavior.

True recognition of our guilt and dealing with it using the four steps releases us from guilt. At the same time, something also happens in the person to whom we make the amends. The human psyche is calibrated to produce forgiveness at the sight of these very four steps! We evoke the forgiveness of others when we show we are sorry we hurt them and are willing to make amends and change our behavior for the better.

Alternatively, a retaliatory response is more likely to come our way when we refuse to show repentance. The stubborn ego that refuses to admit wrongdoing induces not reconciliation but vindictiveness. This reaction, like all retaliation, comes from the lowest level of the psyche where unattended hurt remains unhealed and lashes out in frustration and rage. Mindfully loving justice is not retributive but restorative.

In our human story, hate happens where arrogance digs in and love happens where humility arises. This program makes for a move from alienation to reunion. It leads to the creation of an atmosphere of mended failures. It fosters healthy vulnerability and a diminishment of ego which leads to more compassionate behavior.

The stirring purpose of this and of all our work is to let a loving response come out first rather than an ego reaction.

From: How Be To An Adult in Relationships

 

I think that most often the hardest step to accomplish is the first one.

In our program, “Healing from an Affair: A cheater’s guide for helping your spouse heal from your affair“ we include a handout that will help lead the CS to figure out for themselves why they did what they did.

Many of the CS that I speak with don’t take the time (or do not have the desire) to look within to discover their own inadequacies. Thus they tend to place blame on everyone else but themselves and do not acknowledge that they are indeed the one who has failed.

I sincerely believe that the CS is the linchpin to true recovery and healing from an affair and some serious introspection is a prerequisite.

Thoughts? Leave them below in the comment section.

 

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The Cheater Must Become the Healer
“The Unfaithful Person's Guide to Helping Your Spouse Heal From Your Affair”

If you want to discover the 24 healing ‘tasks’ that the unfaithful spouse needs to carry out, then you should check this program out now.

 

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3 Responses to 4 Steps for Releasing Guilt and Gaining Forgiveness

  1. Gizfield January 2, 2015 at 8:00 am #

    I didn’t read this word for word, but it actually looks like a good article. From the title I wasn’t thinking it would be, but rather one of those articles that encourages cheaters to direct attention/sympathy back to themselves. The four steps outlined sound reasonable and helpful. Fairly well aligned with my own thoughts.

  2. Shifting Impressions January 2, 2015 at 3:00 pm #

    Such a good post…..I went back and the read the serious introspection post….that says it all. This is exactly what is needed for us to move on in our journey. It has been just over a year and I’m waiting for that introspecton to happen. I’m not holding my breath and have chosen to put my focus on my own needs and wants for now. I’m backing off for a few months and will see what happens.

  3. Angela January 27, 2015 at 4:30 am #

    I showed this list to my CS tonight. We’ve been fighting since D-day Sept 13, 2014, and getting nowhere despite our best efforts.

    I got him to commit to two short sessions a day: One in the morning over leisurely coffee – to be an uplifting way to start a positive day- no accusations, speculations, or affair details can be discussed in this session. He didn’t hesitate to agree to this once I promised time we could talk without fear of my 3rd degree grilling. Also to counteract the negativity from the nightmares I wake up from. These are nightmares of the CS and AP ganging up on and doing horrible things to me. One nightmare is them shoving me into a locked cage with rabid dogs as the dogs ripped me to bloody strips. Each time I tried to escape the cage, my CS and his AP forced me back into the cage at gunpoint. Waking from this and other nightmares of them was causing me to start my day already defeated from my first waking moment. We have a time limit of 30-45 minutes set on this session.

    The second session each day will occur in the evening with a time limit of one hour. To maintain structure and not let it derail into unproductive fighting, we are using this 4-steps article to address each action, literally one sentence, one word at a time. We got through the first sentence tonight and both feel better and ready for a decent night’s sleep for once. Just the first sentence and taking each action described in that sentence, one word at a time took more than an hour, but we will adjust time and call it a stopping point if one gets irritated or overwhelmed, with one hour being the guideline. This also allows me to address any new feelings, thoughts, memories, or fears that have come over me during the day since our morning talk. Every BS knows that peace can last hours, days or only minutes before a memory or thought can randomly lay us back out like a wrecking ball.

    I look forward to our first positive session tomorrow morning and anxious to see how effective it is at keeping the wolves at bay for the rest of the day.

    We did add our own twist to the list though, by not only addressing the actions of the CS on the list, but addressing the same actions on my part or his in the past that “set-up” the circumstances that made it possible for an EA to occur in the first place.

    Thank you for this list.

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