Middle-School Student Chat: Grow in Forgiveness

"Grow in forgiveness" by Sr. Pat McCormack, IHM (CatholicTeacher.com)

Image credit: iStockPhoto.com

8 ways to cultivate a forgiving mindset

By Sr. Patricia M. McCormack, IHM

When you are in a good mood and rested, you react differently to situations than you do when you are tired and irritable. Therefore, establish good sleep routines and nutrition habits.

We each have tender pressure points that make us more sensitive to feel hurt in situations that might not offend other people: for example, a tendency to feel ignored, exploited, unappreciated, or superior. Grow to know yourself and use self-talk when tempted by feelings of hurt or anger.

Use “I” messages to communicate in a respectfully assertive way.
When … (state the behavior)
I feel … (state the feeling)
Because … (state the consequence)Request (state your need)Example: “When trash is left on the lunch table, I feel taken for granted because I am left to clean up the mess that others make. Please show respect for me by clearing your meal space before leaving the table.”

Other people are not mind readers! Use “I” statements to express your needs, feelings, wants, and desires. Example: “I need you to turn the stereo volume down” or “I feel invisible” or “I want to complete my thought before hearing a response.”

Take ownership (accept responsibility) for what you contributed to the situation.

Whenever anger or hurt surfaces, pray a short prayer (aspiration) such as: “My Jesus, mercy” or “Mother of Good Counsel, guide and protect me” or “Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place my trust in you” or “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing.”

Reverse roles. Put yourself in the offender’s shoes. What is the reason behind the person’s behavior (attention, power/control, revenge, or inadequacy)? Rather than take it personally, realize that the behavior results from the offender’s personal struggle.

Ground yourself. Carry a small medal, rosary, or wooden cross in your pocket. When hurt or anger press on your heart, touch the object and recall that God is with you.

Sr. Patricia McCormack, IHM, EdD, is an international consultant and public speaker on issues of whole-person formation.

Download and print this article and the companion parent page.

All content copyright © Today’s Catholic Teacher/Bayard.com. All rights reserved. May be reproduced for classroom/parish use with full attribution as long as the content is unaltered from its original form. To request permission to reprint online, email editor@catholicteacher.com.