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Thoughtful Woman Writing By Water
Sat, November 1, 2014
Six Steps to Freedom from Resentment
Introduction.  Freedom – a choice to be made.  Each of us expends a huge amount of energy every day – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. In which direction are we sending it? In creative, freeing, life-giving ways? Or bottled up in a tight-fisted knot of secrets, silence, anger, and resentment inside ourselves? It is our choice.

As we have been told repeatedly, we can’t change the negative things others have done to us, but we can change how we react to them, whether the hurts occurred recently or many years ago. Everyone has been wounded by another; there are no exceptions. Join the human race! If you are tempted to believe you are alone in your pain, be reminded that you are not alone. 

Presented here is one healing process that has been found to be effective, so effective in fact, that its founder, Wayne Kauppila, could no longer ignore it. He’s used it in conjunction with the work he’s doing within the addiction/recovery field but the process can easily be used by anyone interested in personal improvement, particularly those struggling with trauma and forgiveness.

The process is called Forgiveness Therapy. Although the concept is not new, the simplicity of the six-step process he stumbled upon and further developed is well worth repeating. It’s a process that individuals can initiate on their own and also one that can be used within a more traditional therapeutic environment with a counselor or therapist.

Before we get into the elements of Forgiveness Therapy, it’s important to discuss what forgiveness is as well as what it’s not. When someone has wounded us, harmed us, or hurt us in some way, we often hold onto resentments, bitterness, and more. These are natural and normal reactions, but over time, holding onto them really hurts us. They prevent us from moving forward. We can get stuck, bound up in these negative emotions and unable to truly, freely live our lives as a result. Holding on in this way can extend and compound our suffering to even greater degrees than the original harm done by the other person.

Forgiveness is a choice, a decision, and an action that we give to ourselves. It is the process through which we extricate ourselves from the emotional bondage with this other person. By choosing to forgive, we are not condoning the wrongs that someone else has done to us. We are not saying what occurred is okay with us. Through forgiveness we are declaring that we are no longer willing to be tied in hatred, bitterness, or resentment to another individual. Forgiveness is all about you and what you need – not anyone else.

Safety Measures.  Many people go through these steps very successfully on their own. Others prefer (or need) a professional to help them along the path. Either way, Wayne strongly encourages people to have a Safety Plan in place in case feelings become overwhelming or a person begins to feel suicidal. The Safety Plan is a written list of at least two numbers that you commit to calling if the situation becomes too much to handle. 911 is a good number to have on hand, as is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You may wish to include one or two people who care about you as well. (Get their permission first. If they say no, they may only be unsure of how to handle an emergency should it arise.)

Step One. Defining. Persons need to first understand what resentments are and secondly understand the sources of resentments. Webster’s Dictionary (1995) defines resentment as “the feeling of displeasure or indignation at someone or something regarded as the cause of injury or insult….” Therefore we can see that holding a resentment includes (1) acknowledging injury and (2) feeling anger regarding the injury. But there is a third component to having a resentment, and that is (3) holding a grudge against the source of the injury. Synonyms for resentment include malice, vindictiveness, vengefulness, spite, and ill will (Readers Digest Association, 1975).
  1. Acknowledging injury is healthy. Knowing the source of pain gives us information on how to treat it.
  2. Feeling anger, one of many feelings, is okay, too. As many counselors will say, “Feelings are neither good nor bad; they simply are.”  Anger is a normal and justified response to a real or perceived injustice. Anger is a symptom of an unhealed wound.
  3. Holding a grudge is the unhealthy part. The grudge is the “hook” at the end of our line that says, “You did me wrong, and it’s my right and duty to hold it against you and make you pay for it.”  Grudges suck the life out of the victim of abuse, not the perpetrator. It is this third part we need to let go of if we want to be the fully-alive persons we were meant to be. 
What are the sources of our resentments?  Resentments are defined by (1) type of injury, (2) source of injury, and (2) intentionality of the injury. 

  Types of Injuries    Sources of Injuries    Intentionality of Injury 
Physical Self Intentional
Mental Another Person Unintentional
Emotional Environment  
Spiritual (e.g. animal, natural disaster)  

The injuries which most often lead to resentments are caused by another person and are perceived to be intentional. Some of the deepest wounds include emotional abuse, physical abuse, and sexual abuse, but they can include many other types of wounds. Think of those times you have been lied to, cheated, and in other ways abandoned by others by their failure to follow through on what is just and right.

Step Two.  Admitting. In this step we are ready to say, “This abuse happened, and it happened to me.”  This is especially difficult, Wayne says, if the victim of abuse is repeatedly told that the abuse never happened. It is also often difficult when the perpetrator of abuse is/was a parent; this is because as children we see parents as all-knowing and perfect. And children, no matter how old they get, can at times find it difficult to admit that the “perfect” and loving parent also abused them. 

Step Three.  Accepting goes into a certain level of acknowledgement of the fact that abuse occurred and a sense that now it’s time to do something about it.  “I want to heal” is the general conclusion of those who reach this stage.

Step Four.  Identifying the specific resentments. This involves making a uniquely personal and specific inventory of where the resentments lie.  It involves taking pen to paper. Wayne will use one or more of the following three methods when working on this step with his clients:
  1. Writing a letter. This method involves writing a letter to each of the person(s) who abused them. (In some cases where many abusers were involved all at once, this may not be possible.)  The letter does not have to be sent or otherwise delivered. The format is simple: 
Dear ____,
This is what you gave me that I am thankful for: ________. 
This is what you did to me, and this is how I feel: _______.  (Or alternatively, This is what you didn’t give me, and this is how I feel: _______.)
  1. Using a feelings list. (A good list can be found in Wayne’s book. Other sources can be found online.) The person circles the feelings they can identify with when thinking or talking about their abuser(s) and/or the abuse they experienced.
  2. Completing a timeline. The person draws a diagram or writes a list of events, including the abusive and other hurtful events, in chronological order.
Step Five.  Writing the Forgiveness Prayer.  The format can be very simple:

(Name of person),
I forgive you for _______.
I ask God (or your name for your higher power) to forgive you also. (Wayne explains that adding this line is important because it gives God permission to take care of the issue.)
As in Step Four, the writer does not have to deliver the letter. The writer of the letter repeats that forgiveness prayer out loud, as many times as needed during the day, for as many days as the person determines it to be necessary. Wayne says every person is different. Some may experience complete healing right after completing the letter. Others take longer. Wayne cited himself as an example, saying it took him an entire year, saying the prayers repeatedly over the course of the day, after a difficult marriage ended. Every once in a while he will still pull out that prayer when a stray negative feeling surfaces. 

Step Six.  Forgiveness Testing. Once the letter(s) and prayer(s) have been completed, a person can check to see whether or not any resentments remain. The process, again, is simple:  Place the dominant hand over the heart, say the name of the person out loud, and determine what feeling(s) are felt underneath that hand and in the heart. As healing continues, painful feelings gradually give way to feelings of serenity and peace. 

Success.  “These steps are effective,” Wayne states.  Developed over the course of his own professional and personal path, he discovered the steps repeatedly resulted in significant and permanent healing, often after only short-term application of the principles.  The key is to be faithful to the process. 

To reach Wayne for more information or to set up training in your area, you may reach him by emailing His book, Opening the Door to Freedom with Forgiveness Therapy, can be purchased through websites such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Wayne Kauppila Explains the Disease of Addiction

About Wayne
.  Wayne Kauppila, MA, CAP, ACADC has his master’s degree in Addiction Studies from the internationally acclaimed Hazelden treatment center (based in Center City, MN). He currently works as a therapist in Florida. His main goal has been to share these principles with as many people as possible simply because it works so well. And because the process is so cost-effective, he has made it a goal to try to promote this to as many counselors, insurance agencies, and government reimbursement entities as he is able. “I need more counselors to do this,” he states, because people walk away healed and free.  (W. Kauppila, personal communication, September 25, 2014).

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