How to Let Go of Past Hurts
One of the questions I am most frequently asked by my coaching clients, has to do with how to let go of past grievances and emotional injuries. Intellectually, many people know that when we revisit old wounds over and over again, it keeps us stuck in old feelings of victimization, resentment, hurt and anger. Still, we can’t seem to stop playing that painful tape over and over again in our minds. I’m as guilty of this as the next person.
An Apology is Not Necessary
A big part of what makes letting go so difficult, is thinking that we must get an apology from the person who harmed or allegedly harmed us. “When they apologize, then I’ll know they are sorry for what they did. Then, I’ll be able to forgive them and put this behind me.” Sounds reasonable enough, until we look a little deeper. If we are not going to be able to put an incident behind us until the other person apologizes, we have just put the other person in charge of our well-being. Not a very powerful position to be in, is it? What if they NEVER apologize?
Think of it this way… Let’s imagine that you accidentally, put your hand on a hot stove. Would you leave it there with the hope that the longer you kept your hand on the hot burner, the less pain you would experience? Of course not! You would immediately pull your hand away from that burner, the moment you felt the first sensation of pain.
Similarly, reliving a painful memory, over and over in our mind, will never make it less painful. The only way to let go of something that is causing you to be upset, is to stop giving air time to that memory. In other words, take your hand off the the hot stove. To do this, you must become consciously aware of when thoughts about that incident, first surface in your mind. As soon as you notice that thought, acknowledge it, but just allow it to pass through. Don’t examine it or try to understand it. Think of it as a dandelion puff, being blown about by a breeze, and just let it drift away. Soon, it will be replaced by another thought. If the next thought makes you feel good, spend time exploring that thought.
What Would Bring You Peace?
Often, we are called to forgive others, without receiving an apology. Doing this, is an act of good self care. We let go, and let God, Higher Power, the Universe or karma, deal with the other person, so we can move on with our own life, unburdened by past hurts.
Peace of mind, is a choice.