One Thing You Need to Do to Be Happy and Improve Your Relationships
Few of us are naturally forgiving. We tend to hold on tightly to any slight, offense, or grievance directed our way.
And what are the results of this behavior?
It certainly isn't happiness. Positive emotions rarely accompany harbored pain. When you hold on to these negative inputs, the emotions you experience are closer to anger, frustration, fear, confusion, anxiety, bitterness, or betrayal.
None of those sound very fun. So why do we hold on?
For some of us, we believe these negative emotions are the fuel that keeps us going. It's us against the world, and the pain of our past propels us forward.
For others, the pain isn't simply a past hurt. We bear the scars to this day. Whether those scars look like emotional dysfunction or physical injury, memories of the past are never far away.
For many of us, we hold on simply because we don't know any better. We know we should let it go, but we don't know how. And if we're honest, we're not entirely convinced we even possess the ability to do so. What's the answer?
Let It Go
Regardless of your reasons for holding on, it is in your best interest to just let go. Consider these four reasons why.
1. We Walk the Direction We're Facing
Back in my high school football days, my tackling coach would always say, "Don't watch the runner's head; watch his hips. He can try to fake you out with head movements all day, but his body is going whichever way the hips are facing."
In the same way, we can say whatever we want, but our life is headed exactly in the direction our mind is facing. If your focus is on the hurts of your past, you'll relive them over and over again. If your focus is on becoming something, you'll inevitably become it. You will always find yourself becoming what you focus on.
2. There Is No Joy in Proving the "World" Wrong
For those with a chip on your shoulder, know this: There is no joy at the end of that road. When at last you reach the top, propelled by angry resolve to prove everyone wrong, you may find yourself alone.
An "average" life, spent with people you love, is far more fulfilling than the highest achievements and accolades. I'm not saying don't be ambitious. I'm saying your joy at the top will be directly proportional to your intimacy with the community that gets you there.
Let go of the pain. Let go of your pride. Open your heart back up to those who love you. Live and enjoy today, because it's impossible to enjoy tomorrow.
3. There Is Freedom in Forgiveness
Letting go is not about suppressing emotion. You must be able to grieve and experience the pain in order to find freedom. If you've held onto these emotions, find someone you trust, and then let it out.
Once you have allowed yourself to fully feel the pain, forgive. Forgive those who hurt you. If necessary, forgive yourself. In doing so, you'll find that these memories no long hold the same power they once did. Research has shown forgiveness can actually lead to forgetting about the associated event. But even if you don't forget, letting go will free you from the chokehold your memories had over you.
4. Letting Go Is Good for Your Health
Believe it or not, unforgiveness actually takes a toll on your physical health. Numerous psychological studies have linked forgiveness with increased mental, emotional, and physical health. Psychosomatic researchers have long championed the connection between mind and body, but recently, studies by Stanford, the University of Wisconsin, Luther University, and many others have confirmed this connection.
Your body is not built to withstand sustained stress. It is not capable of harboring extreme negative emotion without consequences. By letting go, you empty yourself of negative emotion, allowing room for the positive emotions you crave. You can't be angry and happy at the same time. You can't be stressed and at peace simultaneously. Letting go of one allows room for the other.
Just let it go.
When you let go, you remove control of your life from those who have wronged you, and you reassert yourself into that place of authority. When you let go of the negative emotions of life, you make room to experience the positive ones.
If you focus on what's past, you're doomed to relive it. If you face your goals and place your focus on what is good, you'll find yourself inevitably moving in a positive direction.
How do you let go of hurts, sleights, frustrations, and anger? Please let it go in comments!