Have you ever had a problem that kept coming back after you thought you were done with it? Here’s how to heal past hurts so it doesn’t keep creeping back into your daily life and affecting your outlook, and how to forgive and do forgiveness work.
How to Forgive and Let Go
When dealing with something like depression or anxiety or feeling unhealthy, we generally see that first and think that’s the problem we need to solve.
So we do whatever it takes to get rid of the problem, coming up with some kind of solution, and for a while, it might work. But after some time, the problem comes back because we were treating the symptoms and not the root cause.
The problem will continue to come up again and again in our lives in different ways until we finally tackle it head-on and deal with the root cause. You can’t get rid of a weed unless you get the roots, because even if you pull off the top, it will grow back again and again.
So it will keep coming up in your life in different events and situations and people. The same problems you’ve always faced or the same people and situations you’ve always attracted into your life will continue to come back until you heal the source.
But if you figure out what the source of the problem is and you forgive all the painful emotions and memories surrounding it, you can heal the negative beliefs for good and prevent new bad situations from happening.
Those are the benefits of forgiveness: happiness and a new outlook on life.
For example, if you have a belief that you’re not worthy of love, then you’ll subconsciously look for people who reinforce that belief, and those people may treat you poorly, which then makes you believe that you’re actually not worthy of love, thus reinforcing the cycle.
But you can stop the cycle.
If I can give you one piece of advice that will change the way you approach your journey, it’s this quote. Hearing this for the first time had a huge impact on the way I thought:
“Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know” – Pema Chodron
In other words, if something negative is still in your life, what do you need to learn from it or do differently to finally let it go and release it out of your life?
Do you need to learn to love and respect yourself, or maybe to let go and trust that things will be ok? Think about it.
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Now, let’s get into the exercises for how to forgive and let go:
First, what is the painful belief or thought?
Example: I’m not good enough.
Write down the problem at the top of a sheet of paper or a note on your phone or computer. No one else has to read this but you, so be honest.
Let yourself feel the emotion completely without trying to block it out. Let yourself experience all the feelings that come up around this issue. You can cry or get mad if you want to. After a few minutes the intensity of emotion will subside on its own.
Now, what situations or memories from your life can you think of that may have contributed to you feeling this way?
Write down everything you can think of.
You might start by writing a few obvious memories, and then start digging deeper. Try writing for at least 10-15 minutes.
If you get stuck, just pause until you can come up with more memories or situations of what might have contributed to this belief. Keep going.
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How to Forgive the Past
Now it’s time to forgive these old memories. You may have to repeat the process of writing out the problem and the possible memories that caused it several times. In either case, do this forgiveness work first before repeating the exercise.
How to forgive with Ho’oponopono:
Write down what you have resentful or negative feelings about, then forgive it with the Ho’oponopono prayer (or something similar but equally symbolic to you).
For each memory, say the following:
“I forgive you, I’m sorry, I love you, thank you.”
The words are based on the Hawaiian forgiveness prayer of Ho’oponopono. This is just a symbolic way to let go and have some mental closure that doesn’t require you to go talk to people from your past. You can also come up with your own phrase if you prefer.
I forgive you is so you can forgive the people or memory itself, I’m sorry acknowledges whatever part you played in the situation, I love you sends out love to the memory to heal resentment, and thank you is so you can learn from the situation and make you into a better person.
What is forgiveness and why is it important?
The whole point of doing this is that you forgive the old memories so they can be cleared from your subconscious mind.
Even if you no longer think about these events consciously, they are still affecting your subconscious mind and may come into play whether you’re aware of it or not whenever you make a decision or take any action in your life.
For example, if something happened that makes you feel unworthy of love, you’re always going to make decisions based on the belief that you’re unworthy of love and then you’re going to continue to attract that kind of negative situation into your life because you believe you deserve it.
Your thoughts create your beliefs which cause your actions which create your reality, so it’s important that your thoughts are clear of negativity.
However, general advice to “think positive” doesn’t work at first because the negative memories and self doubt will continue to creep in, no matter how many positive affirmations you say. You have to heal the initial causes before you can start adding positivity to your life, otherwise it’s just like putting a Bandaid over the problem and never actually fixing it.
Note that by forgiving the memory, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re forgiving the person who caused it, and you’re definitely not condoning their behavior. Also, in some cases you may need to forgive yourself.
Once you’ve identified the memories causing a particular negative belief or situation to play out in your life, you can forgive the old memories, and heal the situation.
You may have to do this several times over a period of time to really allow yourself to let go of the memory and beliefs. Also, you may prefer to process old memories with a professional instead of doing it yourself.
Another way to further heal the memory (after you do the previous work) is to say specific positive affirmations that combat the negative belief (such as “I am worthy of love”).
Here’s a summary of how to do forgiveness work:
– Write down the painful belief or thought
– Write down all the memories that you can think of that contributed to this belief
– Go through each memory one by one and forgive it
– Allow time for your mind to heal
– Clear up any remaining resentment and anger with positive affirmations
– Repeat the process for every negative belief you want to heal
Try to push just a teensy bit outside your comfort zone each time. Lots of emotions might come up during this, and you might feel emotional for a few days, and that’s ok.
Just know that you’re doing the best you can, and be gentle with yourself.
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