Many of us desire to forgive, but simply don't know how. So let's start with the truth. There is no one special, magical, proven, definitive technique to forgive. No tried and true steps to follow. This is because EVERY person is different and EVERY situation is unique. Sure, there are similarities across many of these situations; however, EVERYONE has different families, past experience, and futures.
So, the only tried and true first step of forgiveness is to TRY. Take small steps - or big steps -towards healing yourself, talking with others, the possibility of forgiving offender... but most importantly, take steps towards God. Even steps backward can be blessings. They give time to regroup, redirect, reevaluate, refocus, reinforcements, and renew one's strength. As a friend once shared with me, to give up means to accept failure. To surrender, means to accept compassion, grace, and mercy. Surrender it all to Him.
Yet we must remember: forgiveness doesn't mean the hurt is gone. It doesn't instantaneously heal all the pain, but it does provide a starting point: a place to begin to heal, a place to let God in to restore your heart and your mind. It's a starting point to allow the logic and truth compassion and grace of Jesus to be poured over us & heal our wounds. For some people, the healing will be near miraculous. For others, it can be slow healing from the inside out. Without that first step, there is no healing; there is no balm to soothe your soul. With the first step, the first point of forgiveness, we are following Jesus’ command to forgive others, as He has forgiven us. Forgiving requires taking yourself out of the equation.
Forgiveness is a process, but here are a few of those first steps we can all take.
Look for the reason why someone hurt you.
Understand most, if not all, of their hurt has nothing to do with you.
Extend compassion to the offender, because we all hurt others sometimes.
Set boundaries to avoid future hurt or abuse.
Release the person - don't strive for punishment or retribution.
Extend grace and compassion.
Learn. Grow. Heal.