We’ve talked about letting go of items, this time I wanted to look at letting go of negative energy.
Sometimes, people wrong you in ways you didn’t think were possible. Sometimes the hurt goes so deep, you don’t think you will ever be ok again, you’ll never be able to move on.
That all encompassing feeling every time you think about what they did… all the ways you could get payback, running through your mind… you know exactly what you’d say and do if you had the chance (but IRL, you would probably just stand there stuttering at them, amirite). Sometimes it can keep you awake at night.
Breathe. Be at one with the air. Feel it entering your body, filling your lungs, nourishing your heart. Feel the freshly-oxygenated blood course through your veins. Cooling. Soothing.
You are better than this.
It takes a lot of soul searching, a lot of introspection, but you can move on. You can free yourself from them. You can be at peace inside yourself.
All you need to do is forgive them.
Forgiveness doesn’t happen by itself. It’s a choice. Just like it’s a choice to go to work every day or to eat a particular way. As an independent adult, you can control these things. Remember when you got your first job? Were you used to the demands of it? Were you surprised by things that are now second nature? Did you feel nervous answering the phone, confused about why they take tax off your pay? Forgiveness is a complex habit to get into, but once you do, it can be a useful skill and applied to a range of situations.
I am not recommending that you pretend the incident (or incidents) never happened, or that you need to let that person back into your life. Forgiving someone doesn’t mean you need to continue to have any kind of relationship with them – in fact, by forgiving them, you are making a decision to stop pumping your life energy into hating them, being mad at them, being upset, let down or all the other negative feelings that you get when you think about what they did. You can forgive someone AND cut them out of your life. It’s making that decision to stop letting them get any of your energy that is the main reason you should forgive people.
While you are hurt by what they did, you are putting energy into maintaining a link with that person – you are giving them your energy for free. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to share my energy with someone who wronged me.
At the heart of it, forgiveness is about letting go. Not repressing or compressing your feelings. Just letting them float away gently. Once you make the conscious decision to forgive someone, you will feel light and free.
Living a drama-free life centres around conscious forgiveness. Think of all those TV soaps that people love to watch – the characters constantly antagonize one another then have huge confrontations about it then they get “revenge” and confront again then “payback” then confront again. Do you want to live your life like that, constantly being dragged into a downwards spiral of misery? Why don’t those characters ever model better behaviour by forgiving people and letting go of the weight of their negative interactions? Because they are there for the drama! If you want your life to play out like a soap, forgiveness is probably not for you. If you want a quiet, ordered life where everyone has stopped bitching for long enough for you to get on with what you actually want to do, it all starts with forgiving other people.
The results of forgiveness are all around us… so why do people hold onto anger at all?
We are all “hardwired” with certain emotions which dictate how we feel about situations. Memory and fear helped us survive in the distant past, such as if we got burned by a fire or pushed away by other members of the tribe, it would be important to remember the negative feelings that those events caused. In this day and age, when we are no longer dependent on a hierarchy to keep us in our place, there is no need for holding onto those negative emotions. It’s time for us to overcome our hardwired response and start forgiving each other.
Could you imagine if everyone in Israel forgave each other? How about if all the different religions in the Middle East stopped trying to convert each other and kill each other and forgave and moved on with their lives? What if we took it further and forgave everyone? In the whole world? How uncomfortable does that make you feel? Now ask yourself why? How would it affect you? Remember what I said before about how it’s not about being nice to people who wronged you, just making your peace with the fact that it happened. Everyone would be simply making their peace with each other and moving on, freeing up valuable energy and brain-space for us all to do something more productive. Like we could all spend that time watching more Youtube.
So think about whether you can find it in your heart to forgive someone today. You could maybe start small – the guy that pulled out on you on the road, the girl who pushed past you; work your way up to bigger things like clients who didn’t email when they said they would, dates who let you down… I can’t say I’m the sort of person who holds onto everything ever, so I don’t know if this would help anyone like that, but even so, since I’ve started consciously reminding myself to do this (usually on the second or third negative thought about the same experience), I’ve felt about half as stressed as I did before because entire brain subroutines running around my thoughts trying to make me remember silly things that people did have just gone away.