Doing the Work – A Forgiveness Worksheet

James Anthony Ellis 
Legacy Magazine Editor

From the forthcoming book about forgiveness, atonement and freedom from Legacy Productions, this is an exclusive excerpt that outlines some simple but challenging steps towards a full and rich experience of true forgiveness. This does not include reaching out to the other person, but rather focuses on what you can accomplish on your own, for now. Get the gold folks. It’s there for us, or we wouldn’t have created the opportunity.


So many of us have been taught to forgive and forget, but have we really learned the true art of forgiveness with its many layers of complexity? Just saying the words “I have forgiven” may not be enough, and many times the lingering emotions and resentment can continue if the disgrace, betrayal or crime has not been processed thoroughly through our minds and hearts. What would it take? For kicks and giggles, or to truly do the “work” it takes to fully forgive, fill out this worksheet as completely and honestly as you can … and see a shift. You can take your time, and never show another living person this sheet.

1. Who is the person you believe harmed you?  _____________________________________________

2. What was the harm against you?  _________________________________________________________

3. What feelings did/do you have (ie, sadness, anger, guilt, shame)? _________________________

4. How can you express them safely, without hurting anyone?  Who can you call or contact in order to receive compassion for these feelings?  (Not necessarily colluding against the other person.)

5. What need did you have that was compromised? (ie safety, happiness, connection, companionship, respect).

6. When was the first time in life you experienced such a feeling, and such a need not being met? 

7. List 5 ways you can get that same need met now in different ways in your life. Be creative. (ie. feel “connection” by calling up my Uncle and talking about a funny past experience.)

  1. _______________________________________________________________________
  2. _______________________________________________________________________
  3. _______________________________________________________________________
  4. _______________________________________________________________________
  5. _______________________________________________________________________

8, When and how can you accomplish 2 of these in the next week?

9. What life lessons did you get from the experience?

10. Put a dollar figure on the value of those lessons as you go into your future.  $_____________

11. How will you apply those lessons in three ways in your future?

12. List one way you, in your past, acted as the other person did.

13. Imagine what feelings / needs the other person had during the experience. List some guesses.

14. Consider what you can communicate to the other person – in a context of truth, growth and your personal experience – if it’s possible to do so, once you are complete with the worksheet.

15. No matter how it feels, pray for or send positive thoughts to this person for his or her happiness and needs getting met. Be honest about how that experience was for you. It may feel dreadful. That’s OK. No right or wrong.

16. By doing this act, a “giving back to the Universe,” what can you imagine receiving back?

Thank you for giving this gift to yourself, to the other person, and to every life you touch.

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James Anthony Ellis is an award-winning playwright, journalist and filmmaker, who is the author of eight books, including the men-focused “The Honor Book” available HERE.

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