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Let it go, already

by Dr. Amy Johnson on May 4, 2010

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Many people seem to think that forgiveness has something to do with the “bad guy” who did something wrong. I’ve heard people say they won’t forgive for all kinds of reasons:  

The bad guy doesn’t deserve forgiveness.

He doesn’t see the error in his ways.

He did the bad thing intentionally.

It’s unforgiveable.

As if any of those have anything at all to do with forgiveness.

Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. It has absolutely nothing to do with anyone else.

Think about it. If you’re upset over what someone else did and you’re living with your anger at them, who are you hurting? You’re certainly not hurting them. They probably have no idea you’re angry and even if they do, they probably don’t care.

They’re probably out drinking a margarita right now, dancing in the club, laughing at a joke, not thinking about you at all.

They’re going on with their life while you’re experiencing negative emotion. How could your act of forgiveness have anything at all to do with them?

If you really want to make them mad, forgive them and quit hurting yourself.

I did a radio spot the other day about relationships. The interview asked me, “What’s a reasonable amount of time to hold a grudge?”

The only reasonable response that came to mind was, “Well, how long do you want to feel like crap?”  Grudges don’t teach lessons. And it’s not your job to teach anyone else a lesson, anyway.

Grudges just ensure that you keep generating anger that you get to experience.

You may think that forgiving someone lets them off the hook, but who it really lets off the hook is you. You get to let go of the anger so that it no longer runs its destructive course through your body. You win emotional freedom.

So why don’t we just let it go, already? Why does it feel so hard?

I think it’s the belief that holding on to anger protects us from future transgressions. We think if we forgive, we condone what was done and that somehow leaves us vulnerable to more of the same.

The exact opposite is true. When we forgive and truly release it, we show the Universe that this bad thing that was done to us isn’t part of who we are. It’s irrelevant. It has no power over us anymore.

We stop believing that things should have been different than they were. We accept what was so that we can move forward.

Forgiveness of another person requires forgiveness of ourselves, too. Holding on to anger keeps us feeling right. And it keeps them in the wrong. Except that doesn’t feel much better, does it?

We can let it all go. Forgive the bad guy, forgive ourselves for letting him hurt us, and let it go already. It’s time.

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