Letting It Go

Today’s the day…the first day of classes! This semester is bitter sweet. On one hand, I’m happy that I’ll finally be applying to grad schools and that my time as an undergrad is one semester closer to concluding. On the other hand, I’m nervous/scared about applying and really don’t want classes to start. I guess it’s one of those times in life where I know what’s coming will better me, but I don’t want to do the work to get there!

I should count my blessings though…I’m only taking four classes since my internship counts for course credit, my psychology research director is giving our lab crew the semester off, and I finally know what my next step is. So in a way, this entire semester will be a blessing. I’m already envisioning the smile that will spread across my face when I send in the last grad application and the joy I’ll experience when the decision letters start to come.

So to put it shortly, this semester’s going to be one for the books 🙂

But today, I want to talk about something entirely different. It’s something we all desire from others, can be sparse in receiving, and even more scant in giving…

Forgiveness.

Forgiveness is one of those actions that is drilled into us at birth, but it’s often one that rarely sticks. We see parents telling their children to forgive their brother or sister for throwing away a favorite toy or “accidentally” bumping them on the head. We can all picture that little kid with a grim look on his/her face saying “No!” time after time until he/she gets over it or mommy ends up bribing him/her with chocolate.

Fast-forward about 10 years and we enter high school. Boy if parents thought getting their kids to forgive as children was hard, try reasoning with a high schooler. It almost takes an act of God for an “I’m sorry.” to get answered with an “It’s okay.”.

As adults, we’d like to think we’ve gotten better at this phenomenon, but have we? Sure, we forgive more readily for the commonplace things like when a friend loses our favorite piece of jewelry or even when our partner forgets an anniversary. There comes a point where holding on to a grudge takes more energy than accepting an apology or being the first one to say, “I’m sorry.” We also recognize that there are certain things that aren’t worth holding resentments about because the truth is we have other issues that we need to worry about instead.

So it seems that we’ve mastered forgiveness, but I’d argue we’ve only gotten better at holding deeper grudges about fewer things. Like I said, we forgive more readily for the minute grievances, but I guarantee you that there are few memories flooding into your mind right now…

“I can’t forgive Judy for what she said when Dad died.”

“John pitched MY idea to our boss and HE got the promotion instead of me.”

“If I wouldn’t have let Luke take the car last night, he wouldn’t be in the hospital right now.”

The truth is that we’re just as guilty in holding resentment for others and ourselves as we were when we were kids. Granted the actions we hold grudges for now are more serious than the ones that upset us as kids, but that doesn’t make it right.

I’m not going to sit here and give a lecture on forgiveness. We all know why we need to forgive…it’s the right thing to do, it makes both parties feel better, it’s a better feeling to walk around with a clear conscious, etc. As Jen Sincero would say, “Holding onto resentment is like taking poison and waiting for your enemies to die.” It just doesn’t make sense because regardless of the situation, we know we would be better off accepting an “I’m sorry.” or saying “I forgive you.” if the former hasn’t been given yet.

What I am going to do is share a few forgiveness strategies from You Are A Badass that really resonated with me…

  • Find Compassion – Acknowledge that we all mess up. We all make mistakes because we aren’t God. We are all imperfect. Expecting others to be perfect all the time is hypocritical, so take a moment and let it go.
  • Erase The Other Person From The Equation – When we get upset at someone for an action they’ve committed, we like to think that it’s the person that pissed us off when in reality it was their action. So instead of dwelling on how horrible of a person they are, remove them from the scenario. Ask yourself what about the situation upset you. Why is it bothering you? Why did it happen in the first place? How did it happen to ME? Is there anything I could have done to prevent it from occurring? Find compassion.
  • Choose Happiness Over Correctness – We all want to be right. Often times when two people are angry at each other, each party thinks it’s the other who’s at fault. It’s often these scenarios that go unresolved for the longest time and because of that, it’s these scenarios that eat away at us the most. Consequently, it’s these situations that steal our happiness and make us bitter. In short, they almost ruin us. So wouldn’t you rather enjoy life than hold a debilitating grudge year after year? And honestly, the other person is probably happy that you’re unhappy, so why give them that satisfaction? Why let them steal your life away? Be selfish and choose happiness. Life will thank you.
  • Look At It From All Angles – This is for the little things that upset us because we jump to conclusions. Maybe that person didn’t cut you off in traffic because you made them upset. Maybe they just lost their job and were so busy thinking about how they were going to put food on the table that they forgot to check their mirror. When we consider this, suddenly they don’t seem like a terrible person anymore. This is the one tip that we get better at as adults, but forget to apply to serious situations. Maybe what Judy said when Dad died was driven by her guilt about a grudge she never forgave dad for and now she’s thinking about all the years she wasted ignoring him. Suddenly, she’s not as bad of a person anymore. Consider all it from all angles.
  • Have A Shit-Fit – If you’re so upset by what happened, go somewhere and scream as loud as you can. Beat a pillow or punch a punching bag. Get the anger out, get yourself together, and move on.
  • Love Yourself – Choose your happiness. Be selfish. Life is too short to dwell on the little things.

Forgiveness takes practice, but if we keep dwelling on what could have been we’ll never become all that we can be…we’ll never live life to the fullest. So this week, I challenge you to forgive one person that you’ve been holding resentment toward. It doesn’t matter if you think you’re right. It doesn’t matter if they should apologize first. Pick yourself up. Be the bigger person. Forgive them and move on.

I hope this post resonated with you all! As always, don’t forget to like, comment, and share. Don’t forget to like Taking Back Today…it would really help me out 🙂

If you’re interested in learning Jen’s tips and tricks for yourself, you can purchase You Are A Badass by clicking here. It’s an amazing book that reveals how we really talk to ourselves, how to be true to who we are, and how to live our best lives! For even more resources, check out the My Favorites tab at the top of this page.

Most importantly, have an amazing week. You deserve it!

“Forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past.” ~ Lily Tomlin

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