8 steps to freedom NumbersFeature: Mary Hayes Grieco's life path teaching forgiveness
Mary Hayes Grieco
"The practice of forgiveness is our most important contribution to the healing of the world."
- Marianne Williamson
by Mary Hayes Grieco
I am 6 years old, and Sister Kevin is reading aloud from the first- grade reader, but I am distracted because I am looking at a little boy, Richard, who sits across the room from me. I've lost interest in the adventures of Dick and Jane and their dog Spot because I'm wondering again about the stricken look that is perennially on his face. My heart quietly aches with his. He's so sad about something, every day, I think. How could I help him feel better again?
I am 32 years old, adrift and searching for meaningful work, after years of retail jobs and being home with a toddler. Early in my recovery from the impact of childhood neglect and sexual abuse, I'm pushing upstream every day against my sadness and low self-esteem. I want to do something useful with my life, I think. I'm not sure what, but I guess what I really care about is healing emotional suffering-my own and others. But how? Please, Universe, show me the way, because I'm ready!
Today I'm 57. I've traveled the world and thousands of people have passed through my hands on their way to feeling better. I've been the sole breadwinner in my family and recently wrote a book about emotional healing. It turns out I'm a writer and a healer-who knew? I didn't know when I was a child that I would not grow up to be a nurse like my mother. Instead I made my way into walking in my soul's own healing sunlight, offering my service to others-teaching people how to forgive.
It's not hard to forgive-you just need to know how. I believe that you can heal the worst emotional wounds you have, swiftly and permanently, in these Eight Steps to Freedom.
1: State your will to make a change
2: Express your feelings exactly as they are inside you
3: Release expectations from your mind, one by one
4: Restore your boundaries
5: Open up to getting your needs met in a different way
6: Receive healing energy from your spirit into your personality
7: Send unconditional love to the other person
8: See the good in the person or situation
In the past 25 years, I have learned that forgiveness is a profound and refreshing action that we do for ourselves. It is the way to health, freedom and good relationships. Real forgiveness-not the fakey kind!-is an energetic experience that dissolves the stagnant weight of resentment inside us, flooding our bodies with new vitality. As we release the past, we release ourselves into the richness of the present and the possibilities of the future. We find ourselves on new ground, ready to walk forward into our goals and dreams.
There is a spectrum of pain in human experiences, from the mundane ones like a bad day with kids or an unreasonable neighbor ... to the heartbreak of divorce or a social injustice ... to the atrocities of sexual abuse and war crimes. Yet in all these circumstances, the healing process is the same. It just takes shorter or longer. More important, the process of emotional healing through forgiveness is something that can be taught to everyone, as methodically as a driver's ed class is taught.
"What about self forgiveness?" people ask me. What do we do about being disappointed in ourselves-always struggling with the feeling that we are "falling short" of who we mean to be? And so I still ache, in those moments, like I did when I was 6 and looked at Richard, and I wish to burst out and tell them in an enthusiastic rush-what I've learned from my path of living and teaching Unconditional Forgiveness.
"Don't you know? You are a cherished child of the Universe, precious and whole. Be at peace with this human situation-which is difficult, and that's not your fault! Have patience with yourself-all is well."
Mary Hayes Grieco is the director of The Midwest Institute for Forgiveness Training, and the author of "Unconditional Forgiveness A Simple and Proven Method to Forgive Everyone and Everything."