The Dixie Chicks may have sung about not being ready to make nice, but that doesn't mean that you have to hold a grudge.
Everyone has been hurt at one time or another by people who were thoughtless, uncaring or just plain mean. And it's easy to want to hold on to that and stay angry at the perpetrator.
But is it helpful? Can you be happy this way? Will it hurt your relationships? There are many people who live lonely lives because they couldn't forgive.
Please don't let that be you!
If you want to change your life in a major way, learn the skill of forgiveness. Just like any other new skill, it takes time and practice, but it is achievable.
Here are some techniques to help you learn how to forgive, let go and live a happier life.
Consider what you will gain by letting go of hurt
Write down all of the benefits of forgiving those who have hurt you. Consider how you will feel and how that will impact your relationship with the person who hurt you.
Consider the disadvantages to holding on to hurt feelings
- How will these feelings impact those around you? For example, if you are angry at your mother, is it going to have a negative impact on your children?
- If you are angry at a slight by your boss, how will that affect your career?
- If you are angry at your husband, how will that impact your relationship in the long term?
- Will taking this path solve anything?
Set your intention to let go
Setting your intention to let go of the pain another caused is the first step towards moving ahead. It's like taking the first step on a journey. You can read a travel guide, but until you get in the car or on a plane, you're not making real progress.
You do have a choice
- Stay angry forever and stew about it which isn't good for your physical or mental health, or
- Forgive and let go and move forward with your life in a healthy way
You have a choice about how you react to things that happen to you. Isn't it better to make a positive choice?
The typical reaction to being treated badly is to just assume the other person is an inconsiderate jerk. But have you considered that maybe there is something going on in their lives that may have caused them to say something carelessly without even realizing they did it? Perhaps they have a sick family member or maybe their spouse lost their job or they had just gotten bad news from their doctor. You may be surprised what you discover if you try and see things from their perspective.
Live in the moment
Rehashing events that have already happened isn't productive. It just keeps churning your feelings so that you can't be productive in your work or relationships. Not letting go of how a past partner treated you could put new relationships at risk. You can't give 100% to someone new if you are still resentful of the past person in your life. Be here and now and be happy.
It takes two to tango (and tangle)
It's a very rare thing for a disagreement to be solely one person's fault. Was there something that you may have said or did, even inadvertently, to cause the disagreement? If there was and you recognize it, it may help you to understand why they reacted the way they did. This is a good time to forgive yourself as well.
Be selfish and forgive
"Selfish" you may think - really?
Yes, be selfish and forgive the person who hurt you. Because if you forgive them, you'll feel so much better. You won't be carrying that weight around with you.
You'll feel lighter and more open to other opportunities. And chances are the person who hurt you have probably already moved on and isn't even thinking about that incident any longer. You're only hurting yourself and that isn't what you want to do.
Like learning any new skill, it may not be easy at first but with practice, you will master it. Forgiveness doesn't mean you are a pushover. Learn from what happened so that you try and ensure that it doesn't happen again. You don't have to forget to forgive.