Trainer Tip: Every single time you say or do something, even when you experience pain or regret, you are trying to meet a need. Forgiveness begins when we acknowledge the needs we were trying to meet in the situation. Trainer Tip I have never seen a person grow or change in a constructive direction when motivated by guilt, shame, and/or hate. —William Goldberg Every single time you say or do something, you are trying to meet a need. Here’s an example. You’re on the phone with a friend who has called you at breakfast time, and your cereal is getting mushier by the second. With impatience in your voice, you say: “I’ve got to go! Do you think you can work this out on your own?” After you hang up, you feel regret. Forgiveness begins when we acknowledge the needs we were trying to meet in the situation. It’s not about rationalizing our actions. It’s more about simply connecting with what our needs were. In this example, our need might be for a certain texture or flavor in our breakfast. Or maybe it’s a need related to values; we don’t want to waste the food we prepared. Once we connect to these needs, it is amazing how much relief we can feel just from knowing that we were trying to meet them. Then we can acknowledge our regret for acting as we did, and consider how we could do it differently next time. In a sense, this means acknowledging both parts of ourselves—the part who was trying to meet a need and the part who took the action we regret. Offering ourselves this compassion can be an effective motivator for change. Next time, we could say: “My corn flakes are getting soggy, and I’m worried about wasting food. Would it be OK with you if I called you in a few minutes to continue this conversation?” Today, notice that your actions are an attempt to meet your needs. Then acknowledge any regret you may feel about your choice of strategies for meeting those needs. This trainer tip is an excerpt from Mary Mackenzie's book Peaceful Living, available from PuddleDancer Press.