Instead of developing life-sustaining habits and principles, such as taking care of yourself and forgiveness, millions of Americans are choosing life-draining addictions, which a recent story in The New York Times tells us “kills tens of thousands every year.”

It seems many are not aware that forgiving oneself and others provides drug-free, restorative healing for broken minds, bodies and spirits.

Step one, forgiving begins with a personal choice to heal oneself first, because this is how healing takes place. It is the hearts and minds of individuals that are enslaved to emotional and mental anxiety. Bob Marley expounded on this revelatory principle when he wrote, “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery. None but yourself can free your mind.”

Dr. Dan Hill, president of Sensory Logic, breaks it down: “The emotional part of the brain is 10 times more active than the rational part,” said Hill, whose company specializes in facial coding, a process used to determine for business purposes the true character of a person by the looks on their faces.

Forgiving makes it possible to restore inner balance. Learning how to forgive can be achieved when willingness to learn basic principles and practices are put to the test. This rational approach is logical, as it can restore body, mind and spirit. Willingness, not force, guides the mind toward greater self-acceptance, awareness and change. Anger, hatred, resentment and other mental and emotional states manifest within the whole person as “stored baggage.” It can weaken an individual’s mind, body and spirit because it is a subliminal source of anguish.

Unlike harmful, costly and illegal drugs, forgiving helps one manage painful memories while supporting his or her self-esteem through the process. Many believe we are all wounded children because it is in childhood, within the family, that the “cycle of pain and resentment” begins. Here are some words of wisdom: 1. Accept the fact that your cycle of pain (pain memory) began within your family circle and can even be generational. 2. Pain and suffering leave negative physiological impressions, or “imprints.” Patterns of hurt/blame and pain/guilt/denial and other combinations, can be triggers for negative behavior.

Step two in the healing process is learning how to forgive others. For those who are caught in the “blame game” step two really helps. This does not mean that others need to forgive you in order for you to forgive them, or that there is no injustice. What it means is when an individual chooses to forgive he or she decides to cooperate in accordance with the healing process. The world “outside” will not change. Individuals still need to love and defend themselves, but how they “envision” the world, people and circumstances change. Most importantly: the ego’s burden of holding onto “stored baggage” diminishes. 

Forgiving is conciliatory and restoring to all parties. Consciously and spiritually, the individual becomes more powerful when he or she forgives — but it is hard to forgive; emotional pain always tries to resurface. Time needs to be set aside for practicing the healing process and “putting problems to rest.”

At the very least, forgiveness offers a better way of life than most individuals are experiencing today. Needless suffering will sadly continue until the majority of the human race realizes all life is symbiotically connected.

“Being wronged” creates thoughts and feelings of shame, guilt and resentment. Individuals react to abuse and lies. Nonetheless, I learned at 11 that forgiveness is a personal choice. I also realized everyone makes mistakes — but life teaches everyone that mistakes and even good intentions have consequences. Later in life, I realized forgiveness is a process that can be taught, so, I wrote and produced “Listen and Learn: How to Forgive Oneself and Others.”

When I became a professor with the Los Angeles Community College District, I was in an environment to teach what I had learned. Students told me how my guided instruction in the “How to Forgive Oneself and Others” CD helped them. I observed many positive changes in some students in the classroom, and received positive feedback and life-altering testimonials. For example, one woman learned how to stop asthma attacks by recognizing the symptoms before an attack. She recognized physical warning signs that she had not noticed in the past.

Make a personal choice today to start the healing process. When one decides to forgive, one gets rid of “baggage.”  The guided meditation on my CD is easy to follow and can be a meaningful place to begin your personal recovery and healing process.

To order a CD of Alicia Dhanifu’s “How to Forgive Oneself and Others” visit or write to PO Box 91797,  Pasadena, CA., 91109.