Steps 7 & 8 can be done concurrently or in sequence. I believe they are usually done best concurrently, but sometimes it is good to focus on the preferences first, and then go back to discover the underlying values.


Forgiver, whether you have a helper or not, persist until clear preferences emerge that would have met your needs fully and eliminated all negative feelings and beliefs.

The forgiver is to learn to experience the physical differences that using (a) complaining or gossip language, (b) vague unspecified preferences, and (c) clear preferences make to him/her.

Guide and/or forgiver, pay attention gently to the fact if the forgiver uses sentences that are other than clear preferences, the forgiveness will not be complete until they are made absolutely clear, clear enough for a third person to know when the preference had been fulfilled.

In Step Seven the forgiver learns to make the preferences so clear that a third person could see them happening and know when they were done. This skill can be transferred to daily living, quite apart from its use here, for the ability to make clear preference statements about your needs is a very important communication skill for all human relationships.

Step Eight enables you to become much clearer about what are the important values in life and how to bring them into the foreground in any discussion. This is of value in family life, at work and in committees.


Forgiver, imagine the person you need to forgive is in front of you. You may wish to place a chair in front of you to do this, with a cushion or pillow to represent the person you are forgiving.


FORGIVER, say or write, for each incident which distressed you :-

Step 7:

"Instead of what happened, I would have preferred that you had.........."

Or, " Instead of what is happening, I would now prefer that you ....." if this applies in the present

Or, "In the future, I would prefer that you ......." if you need to make a preference statement about the future, in an ongoing relationship).

List ALL the preferences you hold.

Step 8:

Underneath each preference in turn, add:

"I hold this preference because I believe deeply in the value(s) of ............. and I seek to express it/them in my life".


GUIDE OR FORGIVER, Write down each of the preference statements and the values under the ones to which they refer. Use plenty of space. I find that three preference/value statements per A4 page is as many as can usually be accommodated.


Forgiver, you are to state precisely and completely what behaviours would have made things right for you, and write these down or have the guide do so, improving them as you get them more specific. You are "making a movie" in your mind.

Forgiver, you must direct the "actor" (the one you are forgiving) by describing exactly what he or she could have said or done which would have completely eliminated your bad feelings, negative beliefs and conclusions - that is, which would have met your needs adequately.


For some people, symbolic drawings, miming, dancing, or dramatising these stages are effective here, especially if they have difficulty with reading or writing words because of educational trauma in the past.


Under each preference statement, be sure to add the value(s) important to you which were ignored.



1. Use no negatives (not's and no's) , comparatives (more, less, or words ending with -er), nor any vague, unspecified words in your preference statements. Look carefully at any preference which has these in it, and change it into one which is entirely in the positive, saying what would have been right for you, which you wanted, and not what would you did not want.


2. Describe the behaviour in such a way that a third person could know if the behaviour had been carried out.


You will need to use your mind SKILFULLY.


How NOT to do it:

Example 1:

"I would have preferred that you had not told Jim the contents of my letter" This is not a good preference statement , because all it does in effect is tell what happened again and replay the bad feelings. It does not say what would have been acceptable. It is still just a complaint.


Example 2:

"I would have preferred you had been nicer to me and understood my feelings" This is not a good preference statement because (a) it has not been made clear what the person would have to say or do that would be what you understand by "being nicer", and (b) so that you would know that he or she "understood your feelings". You have "held on" to information and this can lead to incomplete forgiveness.


These are unsatisfactory because third person could have no way of knowing when the preferences in Examples 1 & 2 had been fulfilled.


How TO do it:


Example 3:

"I would have preferred that you had kept the contents of the letter I wrote to you completely to yourself. I would have preferred that you had also burned it after you had read it. I would have preferred that you had called me and told me you cared about what happened to me and offered to help. Then I would have known you understood my feelings. I hold this preference because I believe in the values of confidentiality and trust, of caring sensitively for others, and offering to help those in need, which I seek to express in my life".


A third person could be certain when the actions in Example 3 had been done, therefore this preference statement will work.


Beware of "pruning back" preferences:


Take enough time to grapple with what would have met your needs (or would now, if is an ongoing situation).

Be full in your description. Some people try to prune back their preferences by making intellectual allowances for the other person.


Example (how not to do it):

" I know you were busy, but if only we could have made love just once a year, that would have been just fine by me." - especially if this is said in a whiny voice. This might actually mean:


Example (how to do it):

"I would have preferred we had made love seven times a week, tenderly, gently, and with you asking me how I felt and what I would like, and telling me what you would like, so that we made sure we gave priority to our relationship this way." In its original form and tone it holds on to resentment, does it not? It is really a complaint. In the second form it is more full, precise and verifiable.


How to clarify vague preferences further:


The words "By which I mean......" can be magic in clarifying preferences. If you notice you are using vague words, go on to specify what exactly you mean.



"I would have preferred you had been more loving - by which I mean that you would always have listened to me without interrupting, you would have read me stories at night and hugged me once a day".

Only you can know what would have met your needs enough that the bad feelings and negative beliefs would not have come into existence.


Going through the List of Basic Needs (see after the section on Makikh) will also help you to understand how your disappointment with this person arose. You may not have made your needs clear to them. Or, they may not have been able to understand or meet them because of events in their own past. Maybe they were never able to learn how to do what you wanted of them or develop sound values.


It is the "loss" or lack of fulfilment of the conscious, (or more often, unconscious) demand that the preference be met , and the consequent shutting down of the flow of love, that caused the pain.

Stating your preferences and values lifts you out of the emotional level into the mental level. Include all the incidents where you would have preferred the person to have said or done differently. Some may come to your memory after you have done the process for the first time. If so, process them as well.

Go over your list again - is there anything else?

Are you sure you have included the desire you have that they should apologise to you, or admit they were wrong and you were right?

Are the preferences clear enough that a third person could know when they have been fulfilled.?




Go through your list and speak out again all the value(s) which you stand by, which were ignored by the other person in each of the interactions.


"I believe in the values of ......(here go through them aloud)...... and I seek to express them in my life".

For example: "I believe in Trust, Honesty, Respect for others, Parental Love for children, that adults caring for children should be Trustworthy, that lovers should be Loyal ...... and I seek to express these values in my own life".


Speak each one aloud and make sure they have been recorded (i.e. that you or your guide has recorded them) in the spaces between the preference statements.


Guide, You might ask the forgiver "How does it feel to connect with your deepest values like this?"


The effects of this can be twofold:


(i) You may feel a surge of strength and pride in yourself as you acknowledge that these values are really important to you, and really make you "tick". I always feel I have got to know someone at a deeper level when they have shared this stage with me - it is about what is really important to them, about who they really are.


(ii) Not only this, but these values may well have got stronger in spite of what the other person did. This can be the hidden gift you received from the one who offended you. Sometimes people choose their life's work because of deep values that were strengthened in childhood traumas.


Are you ready for the next step? If so you can now go on to Step Nine - Acceptance of History

Link here to return to Forgiveness Programme - Contents