Serious doctor visiting female patient, giving consultation, recommendations, listening to complaints. woman complaining on healthcare problems to physician in white coat

Forgiveness exercises and strategies

In the moment

If you are struggling with forgiveness, try the following strategy.

  1. Take a deep breath.
  2. Identify the thoughts you are having regarding a transgression. Notice which ones you’re most stuck on.
  3. Identify the emotions that are showing up. Say them out loud or to yourself quietly.
  4. Hold space for these emotions. Don’t try to push them down or deny them.
  5. Offer yourself compassion and kindness.
  6. Remind yourself that you have power and agency to choose what actions to take next.

Reflection and growth

The Matrix


As we describe in this program’s appendix, it’s possible to get stuck in a loop on the Away side of the Matrix. This can happen when your moral pain leads you to behaviours that soothe you in the short term, but don’t move you to the Toward side in the long term.

Even if you somehow free yourself of all the difficult thoughts, feelings, and memories on the Away side of the Matrix, that doesn’t guarantee you will find yourself on the Toward side. And you should know that you can make Toward moves even in the presence of yucky internal experiences on the Away side. On the Matrix, you’re just trying to help yourself spend more time on the Toward side than you did before. We all make Away moves! 

It’s important to be kind to yourself. Rather than focusing on what not to do (“Do not make Away moves”), focus on what you can do (“Do make Toward moves”) to move yourself closer to what matters to you.

Fill out the chart using the following prompts. Start in the lower-right quadrant and go clockwise.

  1. Lower right: Establish your identity: Write about what you value, or who you want to be.
  2. Lower left: Examine and recall the incident: Name your difficult thoughts and feelings that show up around the transgression.
  3. Upper left: Moving away from what really matters: What do you do when you feel the things you just listed? How does that impact your behaviour? What do others see you do?
  4. Upper right: Compassion, perspective, choice, and letting go: Record what behaviours will move you toward what or who really matters to you.

Remember you don’t have to decide if the thoughts and feelings on the Away side are true or false. Once you have finished the four quadrants, look to the centre of the Matrix and notice (with kindness and curiosity) how your responses show whether you are moving toward or away from what matters to you.

The Matrix
Tap and hold (or right click) the image to save and/or print it. (Alternatively, you can draw two lines on a blank journal page to make four quadrants.)