3 Surprising Strategies for Forgiving and Letting Go

3 Surprising Strategies for Forgiving and Letting Go

Happiness obviously involves focusing on and enjoying the good times. 

But the reality is that life also involves "bad times". Some of these bad times are due to people doing the wrong thing…that's life. 

But we don't have to allow these negative life events and harmful incidents to destroy our happiness for ever. As this article from Tiny Buddha explains, there are some tips we can all apply for forgiving and letting go…

by Lisa Esile 

“The greatest obstacle to connecting with our joy is resentment.” ~Pema Chodron

Forgiveness is good, right? I don’t mean in a heal the planet kind of way—I mean in a selfish, me me me kind of way.

We want to let go of our resentments and connect with people genuinely. We want to feel happy and contented, full of love for ourselves and those around us. We want to run “carefreely” through the fields in a pretty cotton dress, not sit around in our pajamas, twisted with bitterness.

But how do you experience genuine forgiveness and stop feeling resentful? Because it’s one thing to know it intellectually but another to actually feel it. Like, in your bones.

A few years ago, in an effort to “get over things,” here’s what I did:

I read. I saw a therapist. I journaled. I even did the thing where you write down your hurt feelings, burn the piece of paper, and poof, up they all go.

(I also did the one where you put your “angry feelings” in the freezer to help you calm down.)

And sure. I felt a little better.

But I was a long way from getting out my sundress and Googling “field with long grass to run through.” There was still that nagging thought: if they hadn’t done (blah de blah) then I wouldn’t have to deal with this.

And it’s confusing—if you forgive, does it mean someone’s off the hook?

It’s as if one bit of your brain is saying “It’s all good” and the other bit is saying, “Ah, I don’t think so, mister.” And in a way, this is exactly what is happening.

Trying to forgive someone is like trying to give up smoking; until you change your underlying beliefs it’s almost impossible.

Most smoking cessation campaigns focus on the effects. The images are frightening but they rarely change behavior.

The most successful technique to stop smoking is Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking. It was how Ellen, Ashton, and I quit.

So how does Carr succeed where squillions of health promotion dollars fail?

It’s simple. Carr explains that cigarettes don’t elevate you to some higher plain, like most smokers think. The nicotine just raises you up to where non-smokers are naturally and then drops you back down, almost seconds after your last puff.

The belief at the heart of why smokers don’t want to stop is they’ll miss out on the relaxing feelings. But Carr shows, give up smoking and feeling good becomes the norm. He flips the old belief.

And this is what we need to do when dealing with the slippery fish of forgiveness. We need to flip the beliefs that make it seem difficult.

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. 

Here are my 3 Carr-like forgiveness “belief flippers” that have helped me not only let go of hurt feelings but deepen my sense of well-being.

Admittedly, the bigger the hurt, the more challenging this gets. My hunch is these ideas might help the thing you’re trying to let go of.

1. Your thoughts cause your feelings.

A few years ago during an intensely challenging personal time, a good friend of mine told me she no longer wanted to be friends. It touched something deep within me, and for a long time I saw her actions as hurtful.

But then I realized two things:

First, I was being supremely self-centered by not considering what it was like for her.

And second, the real reason I was upset had nothing to do with her and everything to do with me. She hadn’t done anything to me, really, but my “I’m not good enough” radar was going off big time.

My hurt feelings were due to what I thought of myself deep down. (I say “deep down” because not so deep down, I’d convinced myself I was awesome).

If my sense of self-worth had been rock-solid, I would’ve more easily seen her side of things. Yes, I would have missed her, but I wouldn’t have taken it personally and felt heart broken.

Your feelings are the result of what you tell yourself about what happened. It’s your thinking causing your pain. 

Which in practical terms means you need to stop blaming others for how you feel.

2. The art of just noticing.

So if thinking is the cause of icky feelings, you should change your thoughts, right? Or at least figure out where they come from?

…keep reading HERE if you're finding this interesting and would like to enjoy the rest of this article