We’ve all been hurt by someone else at some point in our lives, but sometimes it’s hard to let go of the resentment and anger that can be caused by someone’s actions towards you.
Resentment can build up and manifest itself as physical and emotional pain. It can cause us to become stressed, anxious and depressed. Holding grudges can even go on to affect our relationships with other people and can cause us to become mistrustful of others. In fact, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, emotions and physical health are so strongly linked that holding on to resentment and anger can cause the body’s energy to become stagnant, particularly in the liver area.
The healthiest option is to learn to forgive, let go of resentment and move forward. But this may be easier said than done. In learning to forgive, it does not necessarily mean that you are condoning the other person’s actions, but instead you are enabling yourself to move forward with a renewed sense of peace and purpose.
Here are some ways in which we can practise forgiveness and let go of resentment.
Write an open letter
Take a piece of paper and a pen and write a letter to the person who has upset you and whom you are struggling to forgive. Write down exactly how their actions made you feel. Be as honest as possible. Then fold up the letter, take a match and burn it. As you watch the flames consuming the letter feel all your anger and hurt burning away at the same time. The action of writing down your thoughts should be quite cathartic, and there’s a lot of symbolism involved in seeing all that anger and pain disappearing into a pile of smoke and ash.
Send loving thoughts
Affirmations are one of my favourite self-help tools. I think they work so well because they are a way of training your thoughts to those of a more positive nature. Whenever you think of the person who has hurt you, you probably think negative unkind thoughts. So, next time, switch this around and encourage yourself to think a good, positive thought towards that person. Say to yourself: “I forgive you. I let go of my anger towards you.” It will most probably be really difficult at first, but keep doing it and you will soon feel your negative emotions softening and dispelling.
I was taught the following visualisation technique a while ago when I was experiencing problems forgiving someone. I had been hurt very badly by a friend and was struggling to get rid of the anger and upset that constantly blighted my thoughts. I practised this visualisation several times though and I feel that it really helped.
Begin by closing your eyes and visualising the person that has hurt you. Imagine that there is a cord linking the two of you together – this could be in the form of a rope, a chain or a beam of light – whatever works best for you. It basically symbolises the link between the two of you. Then, visualise yourself taking a pair of scissors or a knife, and cutting the cord that links you to the other person. It’s important at this point to perform this action with love and kindness, rather than resentment. Make sure that you send the person love as you do this. Visualise the other person looking and feeling happy and peaceful as you both turn away and walk away from one another. When you have completed the exercise, open your eyes and be still with your thoughts for a few moments. I found this exercise to be very powerful and I hope you will find it helpful too.
Remember, you will never be able to feel peace and wellbeing if you are holding on to hurt and resentment. If you need to forgive someone try one of these techniques and you might feel a burden being lifted from your shoulders.