The other day while I was checking my son’s school bag, I saw a letter folded as neatly as a third grader can muster. After reading my son’s scribbled handwriting and a few wrongly spelled words (smile), I asked him what was the letter about? If you can decipher my son’s scribbled words, you will see that it was a letter written to the boy who used to bully him in school. What caught my eyes were the words, “I forgive you”. As you know, the school has re-launched its anti-bullying program “Say NO to bullying” early this month and this was part of their activity — writing a letter of forgiveness to the person who has hurt them.
The past years were a bit hard for Josh because he was always bullied by other classmates especially this boy whom the letter was addressed to. Several times, he would come home crying and being a mom, it’s very difficult and frustrating how other kids can be so mean to your precious child. On the other hand, I also don’t want to go to school and fight his battles for him. So I would practice with him at home — things he should do or how he would react when this kid tease or make fun of him.
There would be good days and there would be bad days. Eventually, Josh learned how to deal with his classmates. With the help and awareness of the school program, bullying will finally be minimized.
After reading the sincere letter my son wrote to the person who hurt him in the past, it made me wonder how is it that adults have a harder time letting go of past hurts. Maybe it’s because the problem was more serious and the pain more unbearable? Or maybe because the emotions we feel are more complicated than a child’s?
How can we let go of past hurts especially if it has affected us so much?
Failed relationships, grief, loss, unsuccessful endeavors and failures can be very painful. Although pain is part of life and normal for everyone to go through, it is in dealing with the pain that matters most. Many people have difficulties letting go of past hurts. Instead, they keep reliving it through their thoughts, words and actions. Sadly, the more we hold on to the pain and frustrations we have, the more we are being unfair to ourselves.
Not only are we hampering our growth as a person, but we are stopping ourselves from discovering the unique and authentic person we are. It is often said that we are like diamonds. We have to go through a process of cutting and chipping off. The more a diamond is cut, the brighter it sparkles and the more precious and beautiful its worth is.
The same way, every challenge, every pain and every frustrations we face in life is meant to shape us to become the most beautiful and authentic person we are. We have to learn to let go of the past so that this authentic person will come out. We need to learn to forgive to let go of past hurts.
- You have to decide once and for all, to let it go. There are some people who would say they have let go of the past, yet, they still keep on talking about it. At times, a little reminder would drive them to the wall again and all that happened would come back. You have to make a decision now that you want to rid of the pain. You want to be released from the chain of the past.
- Take the time to think about the advantages and disadvantages of letting go of the past. I believe if you write out a list of advantages, it would be longer compared to the disadvantages. Think about how the pain has affected you, your family and your relationship with other people. Is holding on to the past helping you to become a better person? I believe if you let go, you will experience happiness, peace in your heart and the zest for living will be back.
- Realize that you have a choice. We all have a choice in life. Whether we want to stay where we are or to move forward to a better disposition. Yes, you may not have the ability to control other people and their actions, but you are in control of yours. Realize this is your POWER.
- The past is past. It will never come back again. The good news about the past is that it will never happen again. What you can do, however, is to physically let it go. On a piece of paper, write your past hurts. Address the letter to the person or people who have hurt you. Be specific with what they did, how you felt and the pain that you are experiencing now. Pour your heart out in this letter. You must not hold anything back. While writing this letter, be aware of the emotions going through your heart. Was it deep anger, hatred, despair or disappointment? Write it down. Next in another paper, write another letter to this same person/people telling them your reason why you want to let go of the pain they have caused you. Why are you letting go of the hatred that you feel? It is also important to write how your life will change after letting it go.
- Perform a “letting-it-go” ceremony. After writing and pouring down all your hurt emotions, do a little ceremony that will make it more meaningful to let go. Some people after re-reading the first letter, opt to tear the letter into tiny pieces making it difficult to put back again. Others opt to burn the letter. It is a significant way of letting go.
- Show compassion and empathy to other people hurting. The best way to let go of the pain and finally put it to rest is for you to show kindness towards other people. By being compassionate to others, you are focusing on other people instead of yourself.
Finally always remember that when you choose to let go, you are doing it for yourself and not the person who has hurt you. You are not letting them off the hook, but you are forgiving them because you want to move forward in your life.
Just recently, I was treated unfairly by someone who I have been working for the past 5 months. She’s a difficult person to please in the sense that she has the tendency of “reading” the worst in every situation. An innocent email of inquiry will cause her to react in ways that would cause her to turn the tables around and point fingers at me. I have invested so much time and skills to make her business where it is today. Yet, I feel her business is not moving forward because of her difficult attitude and unwillingness to accept her flaws. After the last misunderstanding, she terminated me from work. In a way, I was relieved. However, she still owes me money for the time I put in before she sacked me. Sadly after several emails and never responding, I don’t think she has any plans of paying me and I feel bad.
The next couple of weeks are dark and unknown to me and my family. But I choose to think positive that if God took away something from me — He has something better in store. I choose to forgive this person and let go of the pain she has caused me.
As we all do our share of forgiving and letting go of past hurts, we will be amazed to discover the real, authentic and beautiful person we are. Past hurts … yes, we all have these. It is our choice to let it go now and, like a diamond, allow ourselves to sparkle brightly.
As in nature, as in art, so in grace; it is rough treatment that gives souls, as well as stones, their luster. ~ Thomas Guthrie