By Martha O’Regan
Wonderful words of advice but what does “let it go” mean and what is the point? Letting go requires forgiveness towards self or others yet doesn’t have to involve anyone but you. Think of “un-forgiveness as drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” Holding on to anger or frustration, past or present, only affects the holder of the emotion, not the person who caused it. Our bodies are designed for present time survival, not the upsets from past experiences. The process of forgiveness helps to break the pattern of defense physiology from unlearned lessons of our past.
Now, how could I possibly forgive that person who did that horrible thing to me 30 years ago? Or, why should I forgive that person who I’ll never see again? Because these stored memories along with the associated emotions keep your body in a constant state of defense physiology, ultimately making you sick. Even if the other person was the one at fault, you are the one being affected, so again, forgiveness is for you only. In our own humanity, we often play a role in the outcome of a negative situation, so forgiving ourselves is equally important. Who among us is perfect and has never had a “learning experience” that could be “let go”? Understandably, in situations of abuse and neglect, forgiveness is more difficult, but remember, it is you who benefits, not the abuser. Allowing that person to “make” you angry, hurt, etc., continues to give them power over your health long after the incident.
Going through the steps of forgiveness moves us away from the victim role while releasing control and power that the offending person or situation has over our lives. It also allows us to change some old patterns of beliefs driven by our own anger and bitterness, possibly contributing to negative behavior or health. Letting go of grudges will no longer define our lives by our hurts and may allow greater compassion and understanding for ourselves and others.
Start by forgiving yourself for allowing the situation or person to affect your health and well being. The realization that holding a grudge can be an underlying cause to pain and illnesses can be difficult at first, but recognizing that the stored negative emotion will not change the situation, allows “letting it go” to make sense. This new sense of freedom often creates a desire to find more things to let go of and healing begins. Next, forgive the other person and/or allow them to forgive you. Since this is for you only, making contact isn’t necessary. Forgiving does not change the facts of the situation, nor does it imply that you approve of the incident, but re-programs your response in your brain, allowing your body some much needed time off for healing. Finally, see the lesson and be grateful for the experience. Every experience happens for our personal evolution so consider what that “terrible experience” taught you or brought you as part of your growth and development as a conscious human being. Granted, some situations are difficult to find the good in, but until you do, someone else is running your life. This step doesn’t mean you have to resume the relationship or approve of the behavior of the other person, but allows you to move on without the burden of resentment.
Forgiving is one of the most therapeutic exercises you can do for your health. Research is becoming clear that the stress from holding onto past grudges and resentments can contribute to many symptoms such as sleep disturbances, hypertension, digestive disorders, cancer and heart disease. We are each ultimately responsible for our own well being, and since stored negative emotions from past experiences directly affect our health and happiness, “letting it go” becomes more than just great advice. What are you holding onto? Are you willing to “let it go?” Live Well … Have Fun.
By Martha O’Regan