7 Steps for Forgiveness and Letting Go of Anger and Hurt

Just recently, I’ve had the amazing opportunity to review Kristin Robertson’s e-book “A Forgiveness Journal” wherein she talks about her journey from anger to forgiveness in the face of “betrayals and abandonment”.

And how forgiveness changed her life for the better, as it can yours.

I was particularly struck by “Forgiveness is like letting yourself out of a prison”.

Indeed, when you can’t forgive someone, guess who suffers? Often, the other person’s moved on, while days, months and sometime, even years later, you’re still carrying the burden.

Sound familiar at all? This was definitely true for me till a few years ago!

Another point she makes is that holding grudges can also make you physically sick.

I’m thinking back to one of my mentors and how she developed (and subsequently cured herself of) breast cancer TWICE in her life.

Each time, it was the result of anger and unexpressed feelings she harbored around the 2 main men in her life (death of her brother and the end of a major love relationship) and forgiveness / self healing played a big part in her recovery.

So WHY forgive and how can one get to the point of peace? The main points (and challenges) have been described early on:

  • Forgiveness is not an easy path to choose
  • You develop the ability to forgive at your own pace
  • Forgiveness is a decision and a process (you can CHOOSE to forgive – sense the freedom in that?)
  • The cost of not forgiving is compromised health, unhappiness, and an attachment to the past
  • The path to happiness is forgiveness (Boy, can I ever relate to this one! The hardest part for me has been letting go of my righteous anger in the past. And the subconscious desire to play victim.. )

This isn’t just another book on forgiveness; it’s a 7 step process using exercises and journaling  to help you work through this healing process.

1) Identify Your Feelings

What are you really feeling? Anger is the expression of other feelings like betrayal, abandonment, fear, frustration, resentment, guilt, anxiety, unworthiness etc that lie beneath. A sign that your basic needs like integrity, safety, security, love and acceptance are not being met. Acknowledge these feelings.

2) Talk it Out

– Next, you need to talk about these feelings to help process them (there’s an exercise in the journal you can use to share your story). The best part? She advocates sharing your story no more than three times, after that it’s time to move on. Excellent advice borrowed from Native American traditions.

3) Change Your Viewpoint

– Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. In some cases this may be extremely hard so a lot of patience and time may be required. Look at any part you may have played in the situation and be watchful of mind self-pity, anger, revenge, and victim thinking.

4) Gain Perspective

– This step is especially helpful to those who need to forgive themselves for past actions that they regret. At this stage of the process, the heart chakra represents the transition from ego-based energy centers in the human body to spirit-based energy centers.

5) Let Go

– You might be clinging to several reasons not to let go. For example, perhaps you are receiving sympathy from others when you talk about your pain or have tied your self-image and self-worth to being the victim in your grievance story. In other words, what are the payoffs keeping you stuck?

Reminds me of a story my dad told me about 2 monks who’d taken the vow of celibacy and were at a river bank when they saw a young woman struggling to cross.

Without a word, one of the monks lifted her in his arms and crossed the river, putting her down on the other side. The 2nd monk was silent for the next 5 miles and then couldn’t stop himself any longer.

“Why did you touch her?!”, he cried out. “We’re not supposed to look at or touch women!”. Said the 1st monk “My friend, I put her down 5 miles ago, you’re the one who is still carrying her in your mind..”

6) Take Action

– The previous step was about clearing the energy around your hurt and anger. This next step is about deciding if any action needs to be taken – eg: a letter to be written, talk to be had. Whatever you feel is needed to truly let go and move on.

7) Bless the Other

– Possibly the hardest of all. You may be thinking “I’m no Mother Teresa, I can forgive but I can’t wish them well”. And yet, you can. One day. If you choose.

Completing this step will give you the biggest gift you could get – freedom and peace of mind. The book ends with a healing prayer of peace and more exercises to help you process your feelings.

Where Do You Draw The Line between Ego and Self?

Authenticity. Authenticity.

Also known as showing up fully.

This past month I’ve been living from ego rather than service. I let my authentic self be tarnished by feelings of competitiveness, living at 50% of myself, ignoring my values and not being fully present, real or honest with myself and others about my feelings and thoughts.

Nothing “bad” mind you – just restrictions everywhere I looked around. Life in this state is far from pure, joyous and happy. It can still be good but good isn’t enough for me anymore.

Who else feels they are sick of not expressing themselves fully?
Who else wants to shed their scales & emerge as they are?
Who else would like to live courageously & with integrity?

I for one am DONE with living an unauthentic life. With holding myself back for fear that I’ll be alone if no one wants to walk this path with me. With conforming and trying to look good (although those of you who know me may be giggling at the thought of me being a conformist hehe).

Since the last 2 days a lot has been stirring up for me and I’m taking gulpy, brave steps to bring myself back from the edge of an ego-driven life, back to service, back to self.

Take the coaching competition I was entered in for instance. It all started as fun and games, asking people to vote for me, getting the word out about my blog, loving the traffic to my website, the supportive comments (esp the one from my mom – that rocked, thanks mum!) ·

Somewhere along the way though, I realized some uncoachlike behavior was going on and allowed myself to be upset by the tricks other people were using to get to # 1. Everytime I saw people being voted down I would vote them up. And I’d wonder what I was doing in such a contest. Can you guess what happened next? Yep!

I wanted to play them at their own game. Survival of the best-est. And I didn’t like this feeling. That’s not me.

So yeah, it got to the point where I had to stop and question myself …. Why do I need someone to tell me my blog is the best? Would winning this contest make more people like me or make me special in some way? WHO gets to decide I’m the best (or not)? I’ve never liked competitions and in my LOA world, co-operation is a better feel-good place to be in over competition.

To compete fairly and test skills against another is beautiful, like athletes in their finest form. Because it brings the best out in others, rather than the worst. To bring others down while you go up? Not sooooooo much!

It started to not feel good anymore. And you who read this blog know this about me – I always follow my feel-good! If it’s not fun, I’m not doing it. I slacked in following my intuition. Ohh Bugggerr…

It’s scary and empowering to go out on a limb and saying what you need to, without fear of consequences. It’s easy for monkeys but to be a human hanging on the top of a branch, swinging wildly and suddenly letting go….!?  Bump, rumble and roll. Ouch. That hurt. Pain sucks. Yet, letting go can teach you to look for where the growth and learning is.

To be authentic, I first had to acknowledge what I’ve not been wanting to, face my frailties and imperfections, embrace them, forgive them, love them and finally, share them with others.

So my friends, In all my ego driven glory, here I stand unveiled. And as I ask myself these questions, I ask you too:

Who do you think you are to live half a life?
One that’s not passionate, fulfilling, authentic and happy?
Where do you get off blaming other people?
What are you not taking responsibility for?
What is the learning from this?
What do you really, really want?
The glory or the peace? True happiness or ego-driven accolades?

Feel free to ask me “who are you to get me to stand up and take charge of my own life”!? I am no-one. And I am everyone. You get to choose if you want to or not.

With this in mind, I decided that what felt good and authentic was to remove myself from this contest. My intuition says this is the right thing to do and this is the month I start trusting it. The little voice in my head saying “but you could win this and be more popular” can just go take a hike. Be sure to take a camel along, it’s a long trip where you’re going!

THANK YOU to all of you who voted me to # 1 – I’ve saved all your comments I am still glad I entered this contest for I know even more now that my worth does not depend on what someone says or thinks about me.

It depends on what I believe to be true. It’s reminded me AGAIN that real happiness and peace come from being true to oneself, and true to others. It showed me how many amazing friends and loyal readers I have. It re-enforced the power of synergy (where my friends and I voted for each other as opposed to taking each other down).

It helped me be kind and loving to myself and accept my imperfections. And my desire for you is to do the same for yourself.

I want you to live your best life ever. I want you to unleash your awesomeness on the world, warts and all.

Managing Expectations—How And Why You Need To!

A late night tweet from me saying “Happiness is yours when you learn to manage your expectations from/of others and make it a preference instead of a need” brought on a flurry of retweets and replies from people.

As it turns out, I’m not alone when it comes to expecting things and being disappointed when I don’t get what I want. Astonishing, isn’t it ;)?

Anyone who’s ever felt the same way, wiggle your pinkie finger now!

Hm, why do I KNOW you’d just as easily as me lay a wager on our expectations being the root cause of most unhappiness? Feel free to say it isn’t so if I’m being presumptuous.

In my experience, there are various types of expectations – from expecting love, respect, dignity, and justice, to expecting people to do certain things for you whether they like it or not, treat you like a prince/princess, spend more time with you than their friends, come home on time, buy you gifts, etc.

But here’s the thing. I’m not saying any of these are good or bad.

They just are what they are and will affect your mojo as much as you let them.

It’s when some expectations start affecting the quality of your daily life experiences and relationships and lead to disappointment, anger, insecurity, fear, grief, frustration, doubt and worry, that you might want to step back and ask yourself a few questions. If you don’t want to spend a lot of time in the cesspool of blame and disappointment, that is.

Questions that might go somewhat like:

  • Am I expecting too much from others?
  • WHY do I need that (from them)?
  • What am I asking others for that I’m not giving to myself?
  • What do I really want that’s behind these wants? I.e, do I want to be heard, loved, seen, respected, nurtured, validated?
  • Recognize the desire beneath the want. Then decide if it’s a non-negotiable or a whim.

What next? How can you go about learning to *manage* your expectations (and should you even do that?).

Call it acknowledging, changing, re-framing, or anything you like but know that you create your reality and can choose to expect with attachment or detachment – that will be a big factor in how you ultimately experience it.

And while we’re at it,

Realize that no matter who you are, NO one owes you anything.

Yes, it’s bloody fantastic when people meet our expectations, just be aware that it won’t happen all the time and neither is that healthy. If you always got what you wanted, then what about others’ wants that might clash with yours? And where would your learning come from?

Make it a preference instead of a need.

Preference = unattached to outcome. Need = attached to outcome.

When there is a preference you would like something to be a certain way but regardless, your happiness doesn’t depend on it.

When you *need* something, you’re creating and focusing on the lack around you and letting it control your happy button.

Us humans will always have wants, needs, desires and expectations, some of which will come to fruition and some that won’t. If the ultimate goal is happiness, then consider this as one more tool to help you along the way.