One of my most popular posts is “Are You Waiting for an Apology That May Never Come?” I can only guess that many of us are walking around holding grudges against people in our past or present. I talked about waiting for an apology, but I think I can talk a bit more about how to let go.
I will be honest. I struggled with forgiveness for a long time. I wanted to forgive the people who hurt me, but I didn’t have the slightest idea of how to do it. I kept thinking that it was supposed to wash over me. I thought that one day my heart would just open up and I would no longer feel any ill feelings. I thought it was a grace that would take me over, but it didn’t exactly work that way. I would announce to myself that I had forgiven, but in the recesses of my mind that person was still in debt. I never took it off the books. I was still holding it against them. The only thing that I had changed was to tell myself that I was forgiving them, but I never actually did it.
Then one day, I started to research forgiveness so I could understand exactly what it was and how to achieve it. At the moment, it felt like I was letting the person off without paying for what they had done to me. I wasn’t looking for revenge. I was just looking for the validation of my pain. I didn’t understand that I was holding on to the pain waiting for it to be fully acknowledged by the other person. I started to learn that forgiveness wasn’t something that would take me over and fix my feelings for me. It was a choice. I had to choose to let go of the pain without the validation. I had to do it, not for the other person, but for myself because I couldn’t live my life as long as I was waiting for this problem to be resolved by someone else. I was giving the control to someone who had proven not to care about my feelings. Forgiveness is literally the choice between being stuck and moving on. Sometimes, the best revenge is to forgive the person and move on with your life because you are their willing prisoner as long as you hold on.
Here are some thing to think about if you think you aren’t ready to let go:
- Let’s say that by some miracle that the person did apologize, do you think that it would completely heal the situation for you? Imagine how you would feel if you received the apology. Can you let yourself off the hook and allow yourself to feel that without the apology?
- Can you accept that not everyone will do the right thing or do things as you would do them? For that reason, can you forgive the person for where that person might be spiritually or morally?
- Does holding on to this grudge make you feel connected to this person that would otherwise be gone from your life? Sometimes, we hold on to hurts and treat them like ghosts that haunt us. The connection you are feeling is the ghost of a relationship past.
- Do you think the person that hurt you is obsessing about what they did to you as much as you are obsessing about punishing them for it?
- Are you allowing someone to consume your energy, mind and emotions that has proven that they don’t deserve it?
After you answer these questions, does it still make sense to you to continue to hold a grudge and mentally punish someone? One conclusion I came to is that life will take care of those that have done you wrong. Actually, that person is probably already suffering because you have to be in pain to cause pain in the life of another. Holding a grudge is keeping you stuck. Forgiveness is the choice that you make for yourself that lets you move on with your life and break the power that the person holds over you. If that sounds good, you have to decide to let go. What is more important? Being angry and cursing them out in your mind or being free and clear to be happy and allow love into your life.
“When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.” – Catherine Ponder