How many of us have experience some kind of hurt in our lives? Whether that is in relationships or even with ourselves? Some of us, including myself are dealing with the hurt from both! Ask yourself – do you need to forgive someone?
For me I found it more difficult to let go of the hurt I had done to myself! I spent a decade in a whirlpool of anxiety, low self-esteem and continuing to punish myself with my eating disorder, over-exercising and perfectionism in EVERYTHING I did. This affected ALL parts of my life; my relationships, my work, my dreams, my desires, being able to connect and most importantly feeling like I was worthy as a person. If I’m honest I have only been able to let go of this time very recently.
Everyone tells you you ‘should’ just let go and move on. Yes, we all know we need to, but it isn’t so easy is it? We want to let go of our resentments and connect with people genuinely. We want to feel happy and contented, full of self-live and kindness and not let what happens to us define who we are!
But how do you experience genuine forgiveness and stop feeling resentful? Because it’s one thing to know we should just let go, but another to actually FEEL it AND BELIEVE it!.
What I have found working on myself and with my clients, is that trying to forgive someone is like trying to quit smoking or stop drinking; until you change your underlying limiting beliefs it is almost impossible.
I used to see forgiveness as something you did. A verb. Now, I see it more as a noun—something that occurs naturally when you understand the truth about your thoughts and feelings.
HOW DO I FORGIVE AND LET GO?
THE MASTER YOUR MIND FORGIVENESS IN 3 METHOD
1.Identify the problem
How is this pain really affecting your life? Once you identify the impact it is having on you and your life you can really start to understand it and pinpoint which area to target first.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What problems does this pain cause you?
- Does it affect your relationship with this person?
- With others?
- Does it affect work or family?
- Does it stop you from pursuing your dreams, or becoming a better person?
- Does it cause you unhappiness?
Think of all these problems, and realize you need to change. Then think of the benefits of forgiveness — how it will make you happier, free you from the past and the pain, improve things with your relationships and life in general.
2. Understand and reframe your thoughts
Your thoughts cause your feelings, so let’s explore the underlying thoughts to all of your pain before dealing with the emotions.
The first thing to think about is WHERE are your thoughts being directed? I have spoken before about developing an internal control mindset, which is where we are only focused on the things we can control. We can’t control how the other person thinks, feels and behaves, but we can control our own thoughts, feelings and behaviours, plus the meaning we take from situations.
A few years ago, when I was going through my own personal issues which I mentioned above I broke up with a man who I was insanely attached to. He told me I didn’t make him feel good and I didn’t do it for him and he broke up with me. This touched something deep within me and I immediately took this as something to do with me.
Looking back, even thought this was a normal reaction when it comes to relationships I realised that despite the hurt I was actually being extremely self-centred by not considering what was going on for him! Once I questioned that I then realised that the reason WHY I was upset had NOTHING to do with him and EVERYTHING to do with me- it touched the nerve of my ‘I’m not good enough’ limiting belief.
MY HURT FEELINGS WERE DUE TO WHAT I BELIEVED TO BE TRUE ABOUT MYSELF; THAT I WAS NOT GOOD ENOUGH (even though on the surface I put on this act, telling myself that it was his loss).
Ask these questions to get out of your own head and explore what is actually going on:
- Is how I’m interpreting this situation true?
- What is it about this person that makes them feel the need to behave like this?
- What are they trying to protect?
- What are they afraid of?
- Is a bad interpretation the only possible one?
- If this was happening to someone else, would it automatically mean the same thing to them?
These questions will help give you some perspective and understand WHY someone has acted in the way they have. We tend to get blinkered and only see things from our model of the world; get out of your model and explore what it is like from the other person’s model of the world.
We are all doing the best we can with the skills and awareness we have. Beginning to ask different questions and understand “why” breeds compassion and helps loosen the ties that bind us to blame.
Your feelings are the result of what you tell yourself about what happened. It’s your thinking causing your pain. Understanding your thoughts means you need to stop blaming others for how you feel- you must take responsibility for HOW you are reacting to what’s happened to you.
3. Understanding and working through your feelings
Emotions are an arousal of energy (energy in motion) intended to motivate and support us to take action, whether this is in a positive or negative way. Emotions are messages, providing us the experience of our perceptions. They provide us with feedback and power to move on the results of our perceptions. They are intended to pass through, alerting and arousing us.
When we experience a significant emotional event, such as being hurt, our emotions can get stuck! When this happens we often end up identifying with them e.g. I am hurt, rather than I feel hurt. Over time we can become so stuck in this emotion we end up thinking it is who we are! This we when we lose all ability to let go.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU KEEP AN EMOTION STUCK
When you keep the surface emotion stuck, all the deeper emotions (or messages) are kept repressed and you never allow the internal shifts necessary to feel good. When we have made a habit of ‘holding on’ to negative emotions, our thoughts and perceptions are coloured by them and we can never quite get away from them. The emotions simply grow in their negative charge and fuel our reactions in life.
HOW TO LET GO OF YOUR EMOTIONS
This is a very simple exercise that requires mindfulness. It is a two-step process, with step two consisting of asking three questions. Sit quietly and answer honestly. Your honest answer will be very revealing to you.
- Connect to the emotional state which is holding you back from letting
- Allow yourself to welcome the feeling
- Ask yourself: “Could I let myself really feel this?
Experience it and identify it if you can. Don’t worry if you can’t put a good descriptive word to it—just a felt-sense of it is fine too. The more clearly you can isolate the feeling, the easier it is to let go of.
Next, ask yourself the following three questions, taking time on each to feel within:
- Can I let this go?
- Will I let this go?
If the answer is ‘no’ to the first two questions, or ‘later’ to the last one, listen to your inner voice to find the reasons why you cannot or will not let go, or will not let go right now.
- Where did you hear the voice which answered no?
- Who does it sound like? Is it you or someone else?
- Is it loud? Is there a colour or shape associated with it?
Then imagine placing the voice out in front of you and ask it:
- What are your reasons for not letting go?
- Why will you not let go?
- Why not now?
- Has holding onto that resistance made you happy in the past?
If you’re not willing to let go of the resistance, change the focus from the unwanted feeling to your resistance to letting go. And repeat the two-step exercise on ‘not wanting to let this go’. Do this repeatedly on what gets in the way until you can let go of the original feelings.
Be methodical and you will end up letting go.
If you answer yes and NOW to the above three questions, sit quietly and allow yourself to sense the shift within you. Take a deep cleansing breath. Then tune in to whatever feeling/emotional state surfaces next. Repeat the process on that new emotional state.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I GET STUCK?
If at any time you feel stuck, ask yourself; “do I really want to change the way I feel?”
Generally, the answer is yes.
Then let yourself feel ‘wanting to change the situation’ and ask those first 3 questions again.
Note that letting go of wanting to change a situation does not imply you want to keep the situation as is—you are merely letting go of a feeling of lack.
UNDERSTANDING THOUGHTS, FEELINGS & BELIEFS = FORGIVENESS & LETTING GO
Once you have worked through your underlying thoughts, gained perspective, placed yourself in the other person’s model of the world and then addressed any feelings which were holding you back from forgiving and letting go, you actually reach a place of peace where you now can consider that there is nothing to forgive.
In this place forgiveness is really understanding. Once you understand all of the above there is nothing to forgive which means letting go is truly possible.
If you would like to know more or need some help releasing any painful memories, thoughts or emotions holding you back, contact me and let’s talk: