We all have regrets: I should have quit my job years ago… I would be so much more successful if my parents were supportive of me… I could be happily married by now if I’d broken up with him years ago.
Do any of those sound familiar? During the process of letting go, you have been thinking about who you are and who you want to be, and you have looked at all the things you need to change in your life to reach your goals. And during these moments of reflection and planning, I know you have thought about what has hindered you from being your true self.
That’s why the third step in The Art of Letting Go is forgiveness:
The Art of Letting Go: A 5-Part Series
- Reflection: Learning who you are and who you want to be
- Awareness: Understanding the changes that need to occur
- Forgiveness: Making peace with your and others’ mistakes
- Acceptance: Leaving the familiar and embracing the unknown
- Balance: Making steps 1-4 a part of your life; continue to grow
Regret and Blame
Now that you know what you need to change in your life, you must forgive yourself and others for all the shouldas, wouldas, couldas. Why? Well, regret is the secret weapon of self-doubt, and self-doubt is a barrier to positive change. The more regret and the more blame you internalize, the harder it is to progress forward.
Regret is sly. It can sneak in and trap you before you even know it. You begin to think about all the things you could have done differently, and at first, you are simply trying to understand what went wrong. But then thoughts begin to turn negative. That is because you have not forgiven yourself. Without forgiveness, you start to emotionally beat yourself down, and that ultimately leads to self-doubt. Or you may be blaming someone else for your missed opportunities. Holding onto a lot of blame can also leave you debilitated—because you are spending all of your energy focused on your anger, resentment and bitterness toward someone else. The person who hurt you is off living their life, and they may or may not remember what they even did to you. So who is ultimately suffering? You. Because you cannot move on…until you forgive.
Blame and guilt ensure that you are stuck in the past. They keep you reliving the same mistakes over and over again. Anytime you get a glimpse of what your life could be, you are knocked down by your past. Many times we try to hold onto bad memories as a badge of honor: “I am like this because I went through X, Y or Z.” But you will soon realize that this is not a badge of honor. There is no honor in allowing someone else’s actions to dictate your future.
Forgiveness in Action
Being a master of letting go, you have to be a master of forgiveness. Here is how: Forgive people as soon as they do something to you, and forgive yourself as soon as you make a mistake.Forgive people as soon as they do something to you & forgive yourself when you make a mistake. Click To Tweet
Forgiveness is about owning your power. By holding onto resentments, you put your power into the hands of someone else instead of putting it toward fulfilling your dreams. I don’t want you to give your power away for another second of your life. Let the hurt go, let the mistakes go, let the bad treatment go, and you will see that nothing can hold you back. No one has the power to keep you from your destiny — unless you allow them. Of course, people can make it harder for you to achieve your dreams, but they cannot take them away. I have found that when I stop using my energy on regret and blame and start using my energy on achieving my dreams then things become easier. I stop seeing all the roadblocks and start seeing all the green lights.
If you look at your life and see some form of dysfunction, I guarantee that there is a lack of forgiveness. That is why you cannot let go of the dysfunction. The dysfunction is the piece of you that still hates how you were brought up, and you cannot move past it because you have not forgiven your parents. The dysfunction is the piece of you that regrets that you were a teen parent, and you cannot move past it because you have not forgiven yourself.
If you keep asking yourself why drama follows you everywhere, it’s because you have not forgiven yourself and/or someone else. You have the choice to not let the way you were raised determine how you live your life. Do not let the fact that you were a teen parent affect your confidence in relationships. You were a teenager then, but today, you are a woman who knows her worth and deserves a healthy relationship.
When you look at your past and remember the people who have hurt you and the bad decisions you made, instead of getting angry or sad, choose to hold no grudges. Forgive them, let it go and the universe will send you opportunities, people and abundance to help you heal, to start you on your path of changing your life. It is all a part of your journey. It is all motivation to move toward the life you want and the life you deserve.
This is the other aspect of forgiveness: You must surround yourself with positive people and not people who throw themselves a pity party. We all have people in our lives who are complainers or instigators, but if they are set on painting themselves and you as victims, you don’t need them. If you are in the forgiveness process, be around people who understand you and what your goals are.
The Challenge of Forgiveness
The hardest part of forgiving others is that it can seem as though you are letting people off the hook for hurting you. But forgiveness is not about them. It is about you. It is about letting go of the anger that remains from what they did to you. It’s about freedom.
On the other hand, the challenging part of forgiving yourself is overcoming the self-punishment instinct. You think that because of what you have done you do not deserve to be happy. But I want to ask you: Why shouldn’t you be happy? If mistakes were the determining factor for happiness, then no one would be happy. We all have made and will continue to make mistakes. It is life. It’s part of being human. No matter how bad you think your mistakes are, they still do not have the power to take away your happiness — unless you give it away. You are worthy. You deserve to move forward.
We do the best we can in life, in relationships and in our careers, and even our best is not perfect. It’s still possible to make wrong decisions. There will be times when we look back and say, “I should have taken a right instead of left.” But we can’t go back in the past and change anything. The best thing we can do is start today, in the present moment, to change our lives.
I once heard that diversity does not build character; adversity does. This has been true in my life. It is easy to move forward and to be successful when you are surrounded by people who think like you, who treat you well and who adore you. But what happens when you are faced with people who do not think like you? Who do not treat you well? Do you stop going after your dreams? Or do you keep going no matter who likes you, who is clapping for you, who is hating on you?
When you start telling the universe, “I am not afraid of making a mistake,” and “I am not afraid of being questioned or being mistreated,” then the doors that were closed for so long will open. You had the courage to forgive.
You see, this step of letting go is not just about absolving the mistreatment of your past; it is about shaking off the constant criticism, negativity and drama that comes our way each day. It is about keeping your eyes on that image of you as your true self and not letting anyone else bring you down or allow you to stray from your goals. You forgive and move on because you realize you are bigger than your pain. A good resource for working through forgiveness for yourself and others is Desmond Tutu’s Forgiveness Challenge. It’s a free program that helps walks you through a four fold process to forgiveness. Learn more about it HERE.
If you need extra support as you work to forgive yourself and others, a counselor like myself can offer plenty of guidance. You can contact me at (864) 559-8181 to schedule an appointment. I can help people in the Greenville, SC area or out of the area by phone.