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Forgiveness Boot Camp

Updated on May 22, 2011
You can do it!
You can do it!

"Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a permanent attitude." - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Bootcamp? Are you nuts, lady?

Why call this boot camp? Well, I want to get the point across as being totally, unmercifully serious. I am insinuating here that forgiveness is one of the toughest feats you will ever have to overcome at one point or another in life- little or big, guaranteed. It takes guts, glory, and all that other hype. I want to pump you up, get you psyched, and kick your ass into next year, but basically I will impart on you some tough love training so you can attain peace for all your hard efforts.

I'm only saying this because I have all the confidence in the world you just need training. Not only have I been there myself and passed the strenuous duty of forgiveness, but I've also been a trainer for a men's college sports team. I've had to kick my own ass to set an example. I've walked the walk against numerous odds. I'll go easier on you, but I want to make sure you take away some hard-hitting points.

You'll be waiting forever...

Boot camp is a type of psychological conditioning. This isn't something you do once and you're done- Poof, "I forgive you". You have to get stronger and build up to it. And you have to get off your butt (figuratively speaking, no jumping jacks required here) and do the work it takes.

This is action-oriented advice here, because how long have you waited for forgiveness to be easy, for the right time, or for the other person to come to you first and apologize? Seriously, how long have you waited? It won't happen. I understand this means you can't just let it go and dissipate into thin air either. Remember I said this was boot camp, which is highly suggestive of not being easy.

In an ideal world, the other person would come to their senses and see that you are right, they hurt you, and they seek your forgiveness. Actually, while I was looking for pictures to use in this article, almost everything connected to the word 'forgiveness' was a picture of two people hugging. It doesn't work that way- please don't picture that in your mind or you'll never get through this boot camp and move on. People wait years for forgiveness to sink in one day and just happen while everybody realizes the error of their ways and ride off into the sunset with a deep understanding of the world. Stop daydreaming private- this ain't no fluffy cloud, get your head out and come back down to earth.

Sometimes holding onto grudges or injustices becomes a security blanket and feels like you hold some power over the person who wronged you. Perhaps, you want the other person to put in the work and earn your forgiveness. Hey, who am I to disagree with you- they damn well owe it to you. Years pass by and nothing has changed, perhaps gotten worse, more complicated. Every time you inch toward forgiveness in your heart, you are snatched back to reality, and left feeling self-sacrificing and weak. If you don't do something though, you'll be waiting forever...

"To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you." Lewis B. Smedes

Blah, blah, blah
Blah, blah, blah

There's more than one way to do a push-up

There's more than one way to look at forgiveness. You've probably heard forgiveness is for you, not the other person. Forgiveness is a way to get back your personal power from the other person. And kittens couldn't be any cuter if they tried. I believe all this to be very true, but we've heard it over and over again so many times with the same words that it's lost meaning. Nobody even knows how to apply all that to their own life. We know kittens couldn't be any cuter so why try? We all know we should forgive, but why try?

There is no 'trying' in my boot camp, there is only doing. Forgiveness puts you in the driver seat and that's the best place to be. People will say, 'but I tried to forgive them and they are not treating me any better' or 'they don't care that I forgave them'. Change your perspective, your mind, and words. Stick with me and I'll get to that.

"Always forgive your enemies- nothing annoys them so much" - Oscar Wilde

Drop, and give me 20

I just need about 20 minutes of your time periodically, daily, weekly, etc. Work on it, remind yourself, and make it a habit.

1. Get it all out: Make sure the other person knows where you stand. If you stand up to them and let them know what is going on and how you feel, it will give you the strength to get through a mental boot camp with yourself to work on forgiving.

Boot camp: Start conditioning. You've said your peace. Now, you have to start strengthening your mind. When you think of this person, change your mind to something else, pick a random item like cucumbers. Thoughts of the unforgiven = thoughts of a cucumber. Your brain is like a muscle, it can be trained, and I'm the one to knock that sense into you.

2. Get revenge: Whether you believe in energy or not and in what form, let me explain logically. Every time you revisit the injustices someone served upon you, through a flashback or a memory and even losing sleep, energy is wasted- it is taken from you and your well being, not from the other person. Get revenge and stop giving anything to thoughts of them, especially your precious energy.The medical community recognizes stress as a major culprit in disease. Would it make you feel any better if you became ill and stress was a major factor of that illness? Stress can come from not forgiving and letting go.

Boot camp: keep a notepad handy and every time you think of that person, a situation with them, or anything related, write down what you are doing and who you are with. If you are at a playground on a sunny day with your child and those unforgiving thoughts arise, you are taking away from your child and a beautiful day. If you are at work, you are taking away from productivity that might get you a raise. If you are in bed, you're taking away from your sleep and health. You get the idea. The goal is for you to see that not forgiving and letting go is counterproductive and stands to only cause you harm.

3. Get what you want:Get what you need to move on. Has this person said they're sorry, but you don't buy it, they don't sound sincere, they didn't say the right words? This almost guarantees that what you need they are either not capable of giving it to you or it never amounts to what you were hoping for. This again, is why forgiveness is the ball in your court.

Boot camp: Write down what you want from them, what you need to hear to make peace. Give that gift to yourself. Look it over from time to time or mail it to yourself so you can really feel what it's like to finally get exactly what you want. Only you can give it to yourself. Getting what you need from the other person is most likely impossible- like trying to pick oranges from an apple tree.

4. Choose to change: As long as you don't forgive someone, you hold an eternal bond with them and you carry on the pattern and/or abuse even if it's towards yourself. Forgiving or not; neither changes what happened. There are no do-overs, what's done is done and only you have the power of change. Don't do what they did to you and don't be a victim anymore.

Boot camp:The secret of success in business and personal life is recognizing what you have done, what you have overcome, and how far you've come. Little accomplishments add up. Take note of changes you've made; you do not parent like your parents, you will not treat someone the way you were treated, and so on.

5. Never forget: The easiest way to forgive is not to forget. If you don't forget, it enables you to keep these people at a distance and to keep from getting hurt in the same way. It's true when they say Learning to forgive is a lot like letting go of an addiction, but never forgetting where you came from. 

"The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong." Gandhi

Let's talk about this for one minute...You are in a weak state until you forgive. So many people try to move on without forgiving and they don't get very far. This is why I want you to have a boot camp mentality about forgiveness. You have to be strong and vigilant. Not forgiving is essentially inflicting the pain on yourself, the same pain you blame the other person for.

The easiest way to feel strong AND forgive is not to forget. If you don't forget, it enables you to keep these people at a distance and to keep from getting hurt in the same way. It's true when they say


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    • Jo_Goldsmith11 profile image


      7 years ago

      What a blessing it is to read this, and I am so grateful to find a boot camp where this was very much needed in my life at this time. What a blessing and so true words in every moment of why we need to let go of anger and how not to forgive, is the worst thing we could do to ourselves.

      May God Bless you! A beautiful, interesting and useful read! So Awesome! Voted this way...and shared.. :-)

    • izettl profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Thanks jenbeach21

    • jenbeach21 profile image


      9 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Great tips and thoughts on forgiveness. It really is a gift you give yourself.

    • izettl profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from The Great Northwest

      ahorseback~ Thanks for stopping by.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      In day to day relations we realize that there are a lot of angry people , and they don't even seem to grasp that !.....great idea !

    • izettl profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Thanks shea duane and sweetguide.

    • sweetguide profile image


      9 years ago from River side

      A well organized article.great hubs dear izettl

    • shea duane profile image

      shea duane 

      9 years ago from new jersey

      Great hub! People don't understand that forgiving is not a one time thing.

    • izettl profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Anything that is tough, requires a bootcamp mentality or at least a lot of strength- thanks Time4Travel for stopping by.

    • Time4Travel profile image


      10 years ago from Canada

      Good bootcamp analogy. I really enjoyed reading your hub.

    • izettl profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Chirstine~ I can understand your hate toward your ex (after reading your hubs on it), but that damages you and even your relationship with your daughter. I think not forgiving can cause health problems as you said perfectly, killing us slowly from the inside out. You've done the right thing and it shows strength. That kind of peace is priceless.

    • Christine P Ann profile image

      Christine P Ann 

      10 years ago from Australia

      Thank you for the great advice in this hub. I will be recommending this one to others because I know how important forgiveness is. I used to be in the grip of hatred and revenge for my ex until I realised my feelings were making me sick. I forgave him in my head and heart, he knows nothing about my forgiving him, however the change in me was unbelievable. I felt so much lighter, healthier and happier. Hanging on to unforgiveness makes no difference to anyone but ourselves and it can kill us slowly from the inside out. I rated this up, useful, awesome and beautiful. :)

    • W. B. Isley profile image

      W. B. Isley 

      10 years ago from Monett, MO

      It is my pleasure. Your writing seems to bring that out in me. I'm glad I can be of service.

    • izettl profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from The Great Northwest

      I love the Peter and Jesus story. That high number represents a lot of energy it would take to attack every wrong in one's life.

      "This is a message to be in a permanently forgiving state of mind. I end up forgiving people even before they do something that I think is an offense. It is called unconditional love." You have such a deep mind because not many people can get to think more than how much I already think about things but you've done this to me a lot. This is a great piece of your comment- permanently forgiving state of mind = unconditional love.

      Love to challenge people's "mental boxes" and love people like you who challenge mine- thanks!

    • W. B. Isley profile image

      W. B. Isley 

      10 years ago from Monett, MO

      Greetings Oh Mighty One,

      In the recovery world this concept is wrapped up in doing a 4th step inventory and then I think it is a 9th step clearing of my side of the street. This has nothing to do with the other person that I think wronged me. It has everything to do with me and my mental state. It takes the stess off me and sends it out to the universe (aka to my higher power) so it can take care of whatever I thought was so grevious at the time.

      There is also that little forgotten set of verses where Peter (the forgetful) says to Jesus, should I only forgive someone that wrongs me 7 times? Naw, Jesus replys, 'Til 70x7. Hmmm, I'm gonna set here and count up 490 times that I turn the other cheek and then I'm gonna go after them. I don't think so! This is a message to be in a permanently forgiving state of mind. I end up forgiving people even before they do something that I think is an offense. It is called unconditional love.

      Another great hub. Nice work of channelling your Christ self into this plane of existence and being an instrument of change and challenging people's mental boxes.

    • izettl profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from The Great Northwest

      cybersister~ hi there. I couldn't agree more with your notion of forgiveness. People believe it't easier to hold a grudge but the damage is done to ourselves not to the other person. Many situations are misunderstandings of who wronged who. I've even asked for forgiveness from someone when I still felt they wronged me, but I did it to make peace and knew it was all a misunderstanding anyway. THanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • your cybersister profile image

      your cybersister 

      10 years ago from Just relocated from Florida to the mountains of North Carolina

      A wonderful hub with an important message. I definitely believe that dwelling on how you've been wronged or holding a grudge is draining on the one doing it. It wastes too much time and energy that you could be using for a positive purpose. Forgiveness does set you free. I also like to believe that most often the people who hurt us did not set out to do so, that the pain they inflicted was a "side effect" of another action on their part. Sometimes my friends and family have been amazed at the things I have forgiven (especially where an ex is concerned) but they shouldn't be - I did it for myself, not for him.

    • izettl profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from The Great Northwest

      shogan~ I have had to work on the not stewing part this last couple of years. I've lost sleep over things and people but learned I couldn't go on losing sleep and had to just stop and forgive. Thanks for reading!

    • shogan profile image


      10 years ago from New England

      izettl--I wish more people would understand that letting someone get into your head in a negative way is essentially letting them own you. I like the "wasted energy" part; I made a point a long time ago to flush bad feelings. I don't stew.

      Good hub!

    • izettl profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Lesley~ THanks for stopping by.

      drbj~ great quote and so true.

      tipoague~ holding a grudge isn't really effective so I agree with you. I always try to communicate with person to see if something can be agreed upon and for them to understand where and what my boundaries are. I have cute people out of my life, but they refuse to communicate or respect my boundaries and it's part of their personality so I know they're not likely to change. IN that case I forgive them within myself and move on. Thanks for the comment!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Thanx for the hub. Very good advice.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      10 years ago from south Florida

      Excellent reminders about forgiveness, thanks, izettl. I think it was Jack Kennedy who once said: "Forgive your enemies. But never forget them." Good point.

    • tlpoague profile image


      10 years ago

      There are some members in my family that have a hard time understanding why I can forgive someone so *easy*. To them, they think I should have held a grudge or cut that person off. But, I have to agree with you is a waste of energy to dwell upon the deed that were wrongly done to you.

      Great hub! Voted up!

    • izettl profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from The Great Northwest

      THanks Jeanine!

      Thanks a lot Tina/thougtforce. It is defnitely something we hve to work at and its an ongoing process, always sharpening our skills, etc. Thanks for stopping by.

      FIS~ for me, that point has been a prominent aspect in the forgiveness process. Often I've held things in and just held a grudge, but most of the times things have improved when I communicate exactly what hurt me or offended me by the ther person.

      Yes, telling someone how you've been hurt or wronged by them needs to be done with as much neutrality a possible so that emotions and tempers for anyone don't get in the way of communication. I'd also rather hear from someone, politely, that I've done someting wrong to them and I'll do my best to so that doesn't happen again. The last thing I want is to have bad feelings with someone because of miscommunication. Many people, rather than communicate, are passive-aggressive.

    • FIS profile image


      10 years ago from Buffalo, New York

      Izetti, your first point about letting the person to be forgiven know where you stand is really important, Tina reminds me that often we hurt other people without ever knowing we are doing it. Sometimes it is because we are thoughtless, sometimes it is because we don't realize that they are sensitive in a particular way. The only way for people to become thoughtful is for them to gain an awareness of what they've done that has hurt us. The only way they can know that something has hurt us is if we tell them. That said, I think it's important that when we tell them what they've done we do so in a way that is non combative or non confrontational. If we show anger, they will become defensive and any chance that exists for them to learn from the situation is lost. I know that I am more than receptive to people who want to tell me that I have some how hurt them but if that communication seems like an attack... I prepare myself to attack back rather than think about the situation.

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 

      10 years ago from Sweden

      This is a boot camp in my liking! I have noticed that one of the benefits that come with age is realising that sometimes we all make mistakes or say something that can hurt others. It can be tuff to ask for forgiveness but it is easier if one think about the joy it brings to the other person. A great idea to call it a boot camp, it describe just what it takes; a constant learning towards improving! Voted up! Tina

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Good Read Izettl...

    • izettl profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Thanks billysidhu, it's ongoing practice for sure.

      Eiddwen~ your comments are always so nice, thanks for your support.

      FIS~ leave it to you to add something incredible. Yes, I totally agree with reembering times when we needed forgiveness. Most of the time it's based on stubborness, pride, and miscommunications. I've usually set up distance with a person and then forgiven them within myself, not involving them otherwise.

      Froggy~ forgivness and forgetting are totally different. We can forgive, but if we forget then we're likely to fall for being wronged and hurt again. THanks for stopping by.

      slyparadox~ I'm with you, I only give people a few chances then it's shame on me. I'll just forgive and walk away usually.

      kafsoa~ Part of forgiveness (see also my comment back to Froggy) is not forgetting. If we forgive and forget, we run the risk of being hurt over and over again. Forgiveness is separate from forgetting. Just forgive, don't forget and you won't set yourself up for more pain.Thanks a lot for the comment.

    • kafsoa profile image


      10 years ago

      Forgiveness is the key to happy life, but take care, when they know you're the one who always forgive and even say sorry when you're hurted they get used to hurt you. I was a big forgiving woman, but once I tried to wait and show the other face and the results were satisfying. Nice hub, rated up and awesome :)

    • slyparadox profile image


      10 years ago

      I don't wish death on anybody and I'll forgive but don't go messing up like you're doing it on purpose because I give second and maybe third chances, I don't do 18th,19th, 20th chances unlike some people.

    • The Frog Prince profile image

      The Frog Prince 

      10 years ago from Arlington, TX

      Great Hub. Here's my thought though. I find forgiveness to be more easily dealt with than the actual art of forgetting. I may forgive but probably don't count on me forgetting what was done to earn the associated forgiveness.

      The Frog

    • FIS profile image


      10 years ago from Buffalo, New York

      Great Hub, I would add to your list: search yourself and remember the times that you've needed forgiveness, remember when you've stepped on someone's toes by accident, remember when you've been just plain mean. We've all done things we regret, we've all done things we're ashamed of, we've all done things we don't admit to ourselves, we've all needed to be forgiven. If we can be honest with ourselves about those things, then forgiveness is an act against personal hypocrisy and a giving back to others of what we have needed from others in the past. I think this not only helps us to forgive an individual but helps to make us forgiving in general. To be balanced however, I would point out that, although we need to be forgiving, we don't necessarily need to share our lives with people we have forgiven. There are people who are toxic, there are people who ask for forgiveness, who want it and need it, but who will commit the same offense again and again... it is possible to forgive them and love them and remove ourselves from their lives so we are not their perpetual victim.

    • Eiddwen profile image


      10 years ago from Wales

      A brilliant hub that is enjoyed by many, here's to many more hubs to share.

      Take care


    • billy sidhu profile image

      billy sidhu 

      10 years ago

      what great reading - now to try and practice it- thanks iz-

    • izettl profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from The Great Northwest

      Jim~ Oh I definitely remember that hub. It was how I knew you were genuine, not some creepy no pants guy on the internet. No one can fake the raw and genuine emotion in that hub and to be open and transparent, I respected that more than you know. Boy, I've had to do so much forgiving in my life. Too much in one year that it all caught up with me. I realize now how important it is.

      When you can say you feel sorry for and understand the torture of the other person, you've truly forgiven them.

    • izettl profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from The Great Northwest

      marellen~ that's music to my ears to hear. It does so much more damage to you than to your ex. It does damage to your curret relationships and people never realize that. I really hope you move on. THanks for your comment.

      Robwrite~ I have a lot of respect for Buddihsm because the awareness of things like forgiveness and realizing it's a ongoing practice and takes real effort. THanks for stopping by.

      WilStarr~ I like your new photo. THanks for the great comment. I never realize how much my life was influenced for the worst before I did the forgiving I needed to lift a giant burden. I think people believe it empowers them to hold grudges but just the opposite is true.

      myi4u~ you definitely do not need to befriend someone to really forgive. You need to just make enough peace within yourself to move on and feel a certain neutrality. I someone keeps hurting you, then try to keep distance, but also you're right by ignoring them for the most part.

    • TheManWithNoPants profile image


      10 years ago from Tucson, Az.


      I wrote a poem called Dirty Rotten Bastard, and published it on the hub. You probably read it Laura. If you did, you already know we're on the same page here. Heres a line from it ..

      "You tried to ruin me you dirty rotten bastard.

      But now the power is mine.

      For I hold forgiveness.

      You hold what you did.

      I own my future.

      While you are a prisoner of your past."

      Well I DID forgive him. I realized that he lived in a twisted tortured world, and suffered more than me.

      This piece was the most personel thing I've ever written, and I take the issue of forgivness very seriously. Thanks for writting this. Forgivness requires structured thinking, and Boot Camp is an excellent analogy. You may have changed someone's life tonight Sis. Good work.


    • WillStarr profile image


      10 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Beautiful and useful Hub. If I had not forgiven and moved on, I would still be in a prison of my own making.

    • myi4u profile image


      10 years ago from United Kingdom

      Honestly, I don't do enemies. It's a waste of time to keep reminding yourself how someone treat you badly or worst, how you are going to take revenge. But I am just wondering, what is the real forgiveness. Say someone treated me badly but I just ignore him/her when I saw him/her. Personally, I have nothing against him/her. I ignore because I want to prevent myself from hurting again. Does that consider as forgiving? Or do I really need to befriend him/her in order to be considered as forgiveness?

    • Robwrite profile image


      10 years ago from Oviedo, FL

      Forgiveness is a very difficult thing. It's part of my Buddhist philosophy but I struggle with it.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      I agree with you, personally, I have wasted years on reliving how my X-husband treated me and I will never ever get I'm sorry from him. I must forgive him so I can move on and not waste so much time thinking about it. It happened, I was strong for moving on but I think its time to REALLY forgive for my own peace.

      Thanks izettl for this informative hub.


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