Book Review – Forgive for Good By Dr. Fred Luskin

Source: Sarah O. Crane at

This book is very helpful for those of us who have had trouble with letting go of insults and injuries. The old adage, "to understand all is to forgive all," is well and good, but where do we start? Fred Luskin spells out techniques to help us forgive for good, using his "H.E.A.L." methodology (Hope, Educate, Affirm, Long-term). One of the most effective ways to forgive is to no longer take things personally. We "consider the source," as my mother advises, by recognizing that people are fallible and so are their perceptions, opinions, and actions.

Fred exhorts us to no longer give "air play" to painful memories or to people we have conflict with. We are advised to minimize the amount of time we spend ruminating. Cognitive therapy likewise recommends "thought stopping" and "thought substitution" in order to avoid ruminating.

This book and other books on the subject of forgiveness have helped me forgive people I feel have mistreated me, even if I have yet to receive an apology. You can get to the point where an apology would be nice and would help with closure, but you no longer really need it.

I am now better able to forgive myself for my own mistakes at other people's expense. I used to be disproportionately hard on myself for the times I got it all wrong and for my poor judgment during the two times I had what was tantamount to a nervous breakdown due to both medical and psychological conditions (a mood disorder). I consequently felt unnecessary and harmful attitudes of guilt that set me back. I also felt a serious grudge towards the doctor who had made a medical mistake at my expense that caused my first breakdown. When I was 17, I had all four of my wisdom teeth removed at once and was put under for the procedure. The doctor and his team didn't titrate the anesthesia or medication properly. He in effect gave me enough medicine and anesthesia for a 150 lb. adult male, when I was a 107 lb. teenage girl at the time. I became really sick b/c of this with a thyroid storm (extreme hyperthyroidism) and a major chemical imbalance that manifested itself as a nervous breakdown. The doctor wasn't initially forthcoming about his mistake and was uncooperative with the doctors who were treating me and my parents. I completely own that my grudge towards him made everything worse. Part of forgiveness is no longer hurting ourselves by nursing negative attitudes and grudges towards others. Fortunately, this book and a good support system helped me turn myself around, quit being unnecessarily and unhelpfully hard on myself, and handle my stressors more effectively.

On a slightly different note, I hope that anyone I have ever hurt will accept my sincere and heartfelt apology. Meanwhile, I anticipate their forgiveness (or better yet, a reconciliation) and have jumped the gun and forgiven myself.

This book and other books on the topic distinguish between forgiveness and reconciliation. Forgiveness is intrapersonal: you choose to no longer harbor ill-will toward a wrongdoer and can separate that person from his or her mistake. You also understand that person in a far more compassionate light and recognize that s/he may not have even realized what s/he was doing. Reconciliation requires the two people involved to cut their losses and continue the relationship where it left off before the injury.

Our feelings can be intense and can overwhelm us sometimes. I certainly have not always handled my feelings effectively and have often reacted in ways that kept me feeling hurt. This and other self-help books can inspire us to handle our feelings in a better way while forgoing vindictive attitudes and grudges. A woman who practices Buddhism recently told me something that has really helped: if someone is verbally assailing you, then s/he feels even worse about him/herself than whatever s/he is saying to you. That insight can inspire us to feel compassion for a hurting person who doesn't yet know how to handle his/her feelings. People say things they don't really mean when they are angry, unhappy, and/or confused; therefore, it's better for us to not take things at face value under such circumstances. I heard a related bit of wisdom to help us put things in perspective: "things said in the spirit of anger are not from the heart or true self."

Dr. Fred Luskin HarperSanFrancisco; Reprint edition (January 21, 2003) ISBN: 006251721X





Dr. Fred Luskin
Reprint edition
(January 21, 2003)
ISBN: 006251721X


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