Forgiving and letting go

 

 

All the art of living lies is a fine mingling of
letting go
and
holding on.

 

Let’s be honest. Everyone has suffered some kind of emotional hurt or upheaval through the words or actions of another. Experiencing this hurt is completely natural, but sometimes the hurt lingers longer than it really needs to. This makes it harder you to be happy and, if you can’t let go and move on, then it can ruin relationships. The current relationship as well as future relationships. Someone who can never forgive and let go of the hurt, is someone  who is destined to be alone.

Forgiveness is one of the ways you can profoundly change your life. And, no, it’s not always easy, but it is a skill that can be learned. It just takes practice. So, here are a couple of suggestions about how to forgive, let go, and move forward with greater happiness.

1. What are the advantages? Think about all the advantages of letting go of your hurt. Make a list of what you would gain by forgiving what has happened to you. Think about how much freer you would feel if you stopped focusing on what you should have said, getting even, showing that you are worth it. Realistically, how will your relationship with that person change?

2. What are the disadvantages? List all of the disadvantages of maintaining or holding on to your negative feelings. What kind of toll is it taking on you and the people around you? How does it affect your children if you can’t forgive your wife, parents, or whomever? Are you actually solving anything by continuing down the path that you are currently on?

3. Commit. Commit yourself to letting them, it and yourself go. It is difficult, if not impossible, for you to accomplish anything without setting the intention of doing so. Most people don’t just miraculously lose 25 pounds or start saving an extra $100 every month. Anything positive usually starts with an intention. So commit to finding a way to forgive, get past this and move on.

4. It is a choice. Understand that you have a choice. You are an intelligent and thoughtful human being. You don’t have to simply react to things like lower animals. You always, always, always have a choice about how you interpret things and the actions you that you will take afterward. You are also free to change your mind and choose something different after your initial reaction. You can choose!

5. Be empathetic. It is often easy to just assume that the other person is just a bad person, but perhaps there is more to it than that. What else might they have going on in their lives? Has something happened in their past that caused them to behave the way that they did? Try to see things from their perspective. You might be surprised what you find.

6. Consider your part in it. Did you contribute to the issue in any way? It’s rare that anyone is 100% innocent when a disagreement occurs. Realizing and accepting what your part in the matter may have been can help you understand their motivation. It is also equally important that you for find forgiveness for yourself if you regret anything that you did or said.

7. Be. Here. Now. Focus on the here and now. Constantly rehashing and reliving the past just keeps the hurt feelings churning. One of the most important keys to life is to be in the present. Look around you. What do you see? What are you doing? If you’re washing the dishes, be 100% aware of the fact that you’re washing the dishes, not thinking about other things. Be present.

8. Move on. Forgive the person and most of the time you will immediately feel better. You are at your best when you act with compassion. We feel great, too, when compassion and forgiveness are automatically part of our lives. Forgiveness is something that you largely do for yourself.

 

Forgiving and forgetting are skills that require work to become better at. But, be smart. If someone takes advantage of you at work, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be careful to keep it from happening again. Forgiving means that you should let it go so you that you don’t have to be miserable thinking about that person every day for the next year, or longer. It also means that you have made a choice to refuse to allow the bitterness or venom from one bad relationship or encounter to poison all of your relationships.

Negative feelings and emotions are tools that can help alert us that something may be wrong. For your best results, take the appropriate action at the time something happens and then be done with the situation and the emotion. Forgive and move on with your life!

 

Thoughts?

 

photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/deeplifequotes/7516120180/sizes/o/in/photostream/

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About Martina

Servant, MD (gynecologist), blogger, writer, life strategist and fulfillment coach, seminary student, mother, grandmother, sexual assault survivor's advocate, minister, speaker, leader, occasional haikuist

6 Responses to “Forgiving and letting go”

  1. Alice Chan October 27, 2012 at 6:52 pm #

    Martina, thanks for this piece. I’ve found that forgiveness is one of those topics that needs to be in circulation all the time, along with gratitude. The common misnomer is still that forgiveness is about letting the offender off the hook. Recently, at a retreat where I spoke, a lovely woman declared that she wasn’t ready to forgive her ex-husband who walked out on her because he didn’t deserve to be forgiven. She was still too attached to her victimhood to see that he’s off living the life he wanted and being happy, while she’s miserable and struggling. Now, being a divorcee myself, I wouldn’t in a million years pass judgment on how long the stages of grief runs, including anger; it varies with individuals. But, I agree with your point 100% that, at some point, it’s entirely for our own good and well being that we let go of our victim story and forgive, so that *we* can move on and embrace what’s good for *us*. The offender doesn’t suffer or benefit from our holding onto or letting go of our resentment toward them for what they did. We ourselves are the beneficiary of forgiveness, and our healing ripples out to those we serve once we’re open again to giving and receiving more freely.

    • Martina October 28, 2012 at 11:13 pm #

      Thanks, Alice. At some point we have to accept that we are keeping ourselves stuck in some way and doing ourselves and those we care about (and who care about us) a great disservice.

      You have given a perfect example of what we do. We stew and remember and refuse to forgive people who have gone on with their lives perfectly well without out consent. All the while we keep ourselves stuck in the time when things fell apart.

      Soon or late we must look in the mirror and ask , who are we punishing?

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, Alice.

      Martina

  2. Bruno Coelho October 27, 2012 at 11:55 pm #

    Martina,

    You show a lot of wisdom about such an important subject and you presented it in a simple way… LOVE IT! Great job!

    Forgiveness is a tough skill to master. I guess our EGO makes it tougher than it needs to be…

    Thank you for sharing this!

    All the best,
    Bruno Coelho

    • Martina October 28, 2012 at 11:08 pm #

      Yes, Bruno, our egos want us to always strive: strive to win, to be right, to be on top, to see ourselves as the best. When we can begin to learn to forgive ourselves and others and let go of our folly, we can make some genuine progress in our lives, no matter what goals we are after.

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, Bruno.

      Martina

  3. Deb November 17, 2012 at 5:30 pm #

    Martina

    Excellent presentation. Very well said. I found it easier to forgive once I got the concept that forgiving doesn’t mean you have to continue a relationship with that person.

    Thanks for the food for thought as always. This is a topic that bears repeating again and again and AGAIN!

    • Martina November 17, 2012 at 8:48 pm #

      Thanks Deb, it is something that bears repeating and bears reminding ourselves. Life teaches us many lessons, and one is that we don’t have to remain prisoners in cells of our own construction by refusing to forgive.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

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