I write and talk a lot about forgiveness and letting go of resentment, because it is one of the most powerful tools that I have used in my own life and with my clients too. So many of us hold on to old hurts, pain, anger and resentment towards others, and towards ourselves too. Many of us feel that we need to hold on to this in order to somehow punish the other person or to somehow ‘claim’ the experience as our own.
In my opinion and experience, that’s not how it works. Holding on to grudges and resentment only makes you unhappy, frustrated and bitter. Wouldn’t you rather be happy, free and at peace? I know I would.
I love this quote; “If you let go a little, you will find a little peace. If you let go a lot, you will find a lot of peace.” – Ajahn Chah. Don’t ditch it till you have tried it!
So, how do we truly forgive and let go?
I use the Ho’oponopono practice, which is an ancient Hawaiian Healing technique.
It’s super simple, which might make you think that it doesn’t work! But it does!
All you need to do is think about the person/situation that you want to forgive (could be yourself), let the emotions fill up your body and then say:
“I forgive you, I love you, I’m sorry, thank you.”
The order of the phrases are not important. What IS important is your intention of actually forgiving and letting go, so that’s the part that can feel hard. Try it first with something small, see how you feel, and then go on to the harder things. Some people and situations will require more ‘work’ so then you just repeat the phrases a couple of times or repeat them as the triggers come up again.
Let me also briefly explain the phrases, as many people question the ‘I love you’ and the ‘I’m sorry’ – I don’t love the bloody bastard he’s an idiot!! And why am I apologising, she was the one who did it! Etc etc etc – I hear you, but bear with me! 🙂
So, the first one, I forgive you, is straight forward: Remember that forgiving someone doesn’t mean that you are condoning their behaviour or allowing it to happen again, you are simply letting go of the resentment and the ‘hold’ that you feel. You are setting yourself free.
The, I love you, is about showing compassion. I know you might not feel love in the moment, but it’s again about releasing the tension and resentment and opening up for the possibility of real deep peace – for you! So by saying ‘I love you’ we opening ourselves and our hearts up for love, kindness and compassion.
Then we move on to the, I’m sorry, part: This is an important part of the healing and is also commonly referenced when talking about the 12 universal spiritual laws: We must take responsibility for ourselves and our lives. This can be a hard pill to swallow, especially, if we have experienced abuse, neglect, rape and other terrible trauma. Please know that I am not saying that any of this was your fault! This part is really not about what happened, the focus here is not on the actual experience, it is about how you reacted to it and what you made it mean. This is about taking responsibility for your reactions and behaviour, and choosing to free yourself from the resentment and ‘hold’ that this experience has had over you.
In some situations, like relationships gone bad, it might also be acknowledging that you perhaps also played a part in the negative experience and that you perhaps also caused pain to the other person.
So, by saying “I’m sorry”, we are taking responsibility for our own actions and for our own healing and well-being.
Finally, we finish up with, thank you: This is again linked to taking responsibility and also to realising that everything happens for a reason. In each situation there is a lesson to learn, for every person we encounter there is something to learn. If we approach life this way, then there are no real ‘bad’ situations or ‘mistakes’; only lessons. So we say thank you for the person/situation that brought us a new lesson and then we let it go.
Take a deep breath and see how you feel.
Still not sure why you should forgive and let go?? – Check out my blog post here.