For this assignment, you will choose one of two options: Either forgiveness or gratitude. The assignment consists of writing a letter to someone in your life that you want either want to forgive (Option A) or express thanks to (Option B). If you write the gratitude letter, you may feel free to send it to the person. The forgiveness letter is for yourself.
Whichever you choose, write as though you are addressing the person directly (Dear____________). Dont worry about perfect grammar or spelling.
Option A: Forgiveness
Think of a person from your past who has harmed you in some way that you have not been able to forgive. As we saw in class, forgiving does not mean forgetting, condoning, pardoning, or excusing the transgression and the goal of forgiveness is not necessarily reconciliation. Rather, forgiveness is something you do for yourself in order to reduce your level of psychological distress through the release of toxic negative thoughts and emotions. The negative energy and emotion that you put into not forgiving can, over time, cause major negative health outcomes while the person who committed the transgression against you suffers no further ill effects due to unforgiveness. Essentially, forgiveness allows you to take your power back. That being said, forgiveness is something that you must freely choose to do and something that will take hard work.
To help get you started down the path of forgiveness, write a letter in which you describe a transgression that has been committed against you and the emotions related to that transgression. Then, pledge to forgive the transgressor (if appropriate), but DO NOT SEND or discuss the contents of the letter with the person you write it to. Try to use the REACH model (Recall, Extend, Altruistic Gift, Commit, Hold). The purpose of this exercise is to help you experience the power of forgiveness even in the absence of feedback. Hence, your letter can be written to someone whom you are no longer in contact with or someone who may have already passed away. Finally, some people hold unforgiveness toward themselves. If this is the case for you, writing a forgiveness letter to yourself is appropriate.
If you have space, you may include a sentence or two about how writing the letter made you feel.
Option B: Gratitude
It’s been said that feeling gratitude but not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it. For various reasons, we often don’t express gratitude to those who deserve our thanks. We assume they know how much we appreciate them. We felt that they were only doing their job, not realizing that this does not alleviate us of the need to let them know. We planned to but somehow never got around to it. Maybe too much time has passed and we feel embarrassed by our forgetfulness.
For this option, select one important person from your past who has made a major positive difference in your life and to whom you have never fully expressed your thanks. Choose someone who is still alive. Was it a teacher, mentor, coach, relative, close personal friend or romantic partner? It may be most helpful to select a person you havent though about for a whilesomeone who is not always on your mind. In the letter, describe specifically why you are grateful to this person, how he or she affected your life, and how often you reflect on his or her efforts. What did he or she do and how has that made your life better? Try to be as concrete as possible. With sincere appreciation, thank the person for the specific things they did which made you feel grateful.
If you have space, you may include a sentence or two about how writing the letter made you feel, and /or how you anticipate the person you are grateful to would react if they received it.