Over the years as a Life Coach I have counseled many people, both young and old. As you may imagine, they never started coming to me just to let me know how great their lives were going.
There were either hurdles to overcome or goals to achieve, and they made the life-altering decision to invest in themselves by asking for help and support.
One hurdle I come across quite often is forgiveness.
Being hurt or wronged by someone causes feelings of anger, resentment and sadness. We clear the hurdle of forgiveness if we are able to release those feelings and replace them with gratitude.
But, it’s just so tough.
I know - I’ve been there too.
I used to hold on to HUGE grudges until I figured out that all I was doing was hurting myself. It wasn’t affecting the person I was angry at one bit! Just me.
Not until I got into my 30s did I begin to understand just how damaging this resentment was for my mental and physical health.
So, I began to study forgiveness and the art of letting go.
Take a moment right now and think of a person in your life that you need to forgive.
Perhaps you were wronged or even abused by somebody. I’m sure if we examined the situation we may find that the feelings of anger, resentment, and maybe even hatred are totally, one hundred percent justifiable.
But we can’t move on from this gripping, negative space until we begin the process of forgiveness. And true forgiveness is not possible without empathy.
How can we begin to feel empathetic toward a person we are actively and intentionally hating on?
It’s difficult, but it can be done.
Having compassion toward the person who hurt you is not the same thing as making excuses for them or allowing their behavior to continue. This is our starting point – and remember it’s for us, not for them.
Start by considering the possibility that inside their head is not an easy place in which to live, and that the behaviors they exhibit were most likely also once done to them.
Try saying to yourself: “I accept that this person is going through some stuff right now. I have the ability to separate myself from them, though, and forgive them because they are obviously in a holding pattern of repetitive, negative behavior, and not getting any better. But they are not going to take me down with them. I’m moving forward.”
By saying these words, we evolve and expand our consciousness. Be open minded and purposeful about this process. Feel the resentment and anger leave your body; leaving space in your soul for serenity and peace.
Check in on the feels.
I called that little exercise a “first step” because sometimes, it doesn’t take right away. Sometimes I work that step – actively and purposefully letting go – but I’m still pissed.
Don’t worry, there are additional steps in this process.
Next, we need to self-examine and figure out why we still feel angry.
It’s really easy to sit around and obsess about all of the negative crap that has happened in our lives, and all the people that we are angry at, but this just fills us with negative energy and sets us up on a bad frequency.
Bad frequency, dude. Don’t do it.
Over time, the bad memories and resentments that we keep churning on get bigger, and bigger, and bigger, until these stories that we’ve been cultivating in our heads have grown way out of control and honestly, no longer match what actually happened in real life.
We fed the negative feelings, they grew, and now we feel like shit.
Again, this is not affecting the other person at all. Just us.
When you find yourself starting to churn, go exercise, call someone, or go do something nice for somebody. Do anything to get out of your own head for a while.
Think about it this way: when we are fixated on somebody else, we don’t have time to deal with ourselves and our own issues. It’s a distraction from our own problems and a good excuse not to deal with them.
So, ask yourself very honestly: “What exactly am I angry about?”
Write it out to work it out.
The next thing I like to do is write my feelings down.
When I’m mad I like to get the bad feelings out of my body as soon as possible, and one of the best ways for me to do that is to write them down.
I get all of my feelings down on paper. Everything – even the stuff that’s super crazy and delusional.
That’s why writing our feelings down is so beneficial. We can tell that piece of paper anything. All the stuff that we’d never tell another soul.
It’s funny because I just start writing and my brain takes over and it all just pours out. I learn a lot about myself and what is really bothering me during this process.
And then, I usually burn it. Because it's insane.
Will for the willingness to let it go.
Next, I start asking for the willingness to want for that person what I want for myself.
If you pray, pray that the person is living a happy life and that they get everything that they're looking for.
If you don't pray, just sit and think about them. Hope they get what they want out of this life and that they burst with the abundance of joy and happiness.
And if you’re not there yet, that’s okay. Just be willing to get there. Pray or hope for your own willingness to send positive vibes their way.
It's so important for us to forgive and let go.
Once we have forgiven the other person, we can also forgive ourselves.
Don’t be mad at yourself for being a victim, or for sticking around too long in a situation that wasn’t healthy, for being naive, or for allowing yourself to be treated poorly.
Look at these events as a form of empowerment. Turn it around.
It probably led you through a period of extreme growth:
Making the decision to confront your spouse and ask for a divorce made you realize that you could stand up for yourself and face change.
Being a single parent forced you to do more in one day than you ever thought possible. And to play more roles than you thought possible.
Dealing with the aftermath of people spreading lies about you and trying to bring you down gave you the motivation to find your own voice and rise above.
Working through the PTSD you were left with after years of abuse made you really examine yourself and find all the wonderful, amazing, beautiful qualities you possess.
Finding the gratitude.
Once we clear out all the bad feelings, find the willingness to forgive, and examine the subsequent personal growth, our souls are free to experience gratitude.
Not everything in life is supposed to be pleasant. It really sucks, but growth comes from the pain that we go through because it makes us stronger emotionally, physically and mentally.
“If we can find forgiveness in our hearts for those who have caused us hurt and injury, we will rise to a higher level of self-esteem and well-being.” James E. Faust.
Today, I’m living in gratitude.