How Do We Forgive and Let Go?

The old adage “forgive and forget” is something that we’ve all likely heard multiple times. From our childhood years through adolescent years and then into adulthood, every person encounters a mixture of human emotions. We’ve also all likely gotten ourselves into a situation where we’ve needed to either say or hear, “I’m sorry.” But how did those words resonate with you? Once spoken, did you simply forget the wrongdoing and move on? Or did you hold onto that guilt, frustration, anger, deep sadness or for years and years? At some point, that pent up emotion will come back to bite you.

Holding onto emotions is unhealthy. That’s one basis of psychology. Understanding human emotions and learning to be okay with how we’re feeling is freeing. That deep understanding helps us to cope with not only the everyday struggles we encounter but the unexpected things that pop up and often throw us for a loop. If those emotions are all internally driven, chances are we’re aware of them and might even be cognizant of their root. Do they stem from a childhood trauma or grief over an inexplicable loss? But awareness is only one small piece of the puzzle. Next comes forgiveness and then letting go. Those two steps are much easier said than done.

Many people will say that it is easier to forgive another than it is to forgive yourself. The other person apologizes and walks away. Although true forgiveness might not be instantaneous, a healthy person is able to slowly let go of the pain and anger that they are holding, until their story becomes a thing of the past. However, if you are the one to cause the hurt, chances are you’ve held onto those negative feelings for far longer than necessary. You’ve apologized and walked away, and the other person most likely let the negative feelings toward you go. But have you?

It’s time to dredge up all of those pent up negative emotions that you’ve been holding and look at them one by one. Holding onto these memories and negative associations is like holding onto a hurtful past. The past has happened. And it happened for a reason. Chances are this hurtful experience caused you to look at life situations differently. Can you see the good in it? Can you leave the past in the past and look forward to the time you have been given today? Instead of spending your time focused on what happened to you or what sadness you caused, chip away at the negativity. Face yourself with a smile. Look forward to a bright, new day with a lighter, happier you.