A great article for “Mental Spring Cleaning” reprinted with permission from my colleague Brian Tracy…
How to Let Go: The 4 People You Must Forgive
By Brian Tracy
There are four people you need to forgive if you are serious about changing your life and learning how to live in the now.
The first are your parents, living or dead. You must absolutely forgive them for every mistake they ever made in bringing you up. At the very least, you should be grateful to them for giving you life. They got you here. If you are happy to be alive, you can forgive them for everything else. Never complain about them again.
Many of my seminar participants have phoned or visited their parents and told them that they forgive them for everything. Often this simple act of courage and character has had a profound effect on their relationship with their mother or father. From that day onward, they have become good friends, which lasted the rest of their lives together.
On the other hand, by not forgiving your parents, you remain forever a child. You block your own chance to grow up and become a fully functioning adult. You continue to see yourself as a victim. Even worse, you keep your negative feelings of inferiority and anger alive. If your parents die without your having forgiven them, it can bother you for the rest of your life.
The second person or persons you must forgive are the people from your marriages or relationships that didn’t work out. These intimate relationships can be so intense, and so threatening to your feelings of self-esteem and self-worth, that you can be angry and unforgiving toward those people for years.
But you were at least partially responsible. Have the personal strength and integrity to say, “I am responsible,” and then forgive the other person and let him or her go. Say the words, “I forgive him/her for everything and I wish him/her well.” Each time you repeat this, the negative emotion attached to the memory will diminish. Soon it will be gone forever.
Many of my graduates have found that “the letter” is the key to putting a bad relationship behind them forever. This is a powerful technique that can free you from feelings of anger and resentment almost instantly.
Here is how it works: You to sit down and write the other person a letter of forgiveness. It consists of three parts.
First you say, “I forgive you for everything you ever did that hurt me.”
Second, you write out a description or list of every single thing that you are still mad about. Some people write several pages in this part.
Third, you end the letter with the words, “I wish you well.”
You then take the letter to the mailbox and drop it in. At that moment, you will feel a huge sense of relief, and you will be free at last.
By the way, don’t worry about how the other person might react. That is not your concern. Your goal is to free yourself, to regain your peace of mind, and to get on with the wonderful life that lies ahead of you.
The third person you must forgive is everyone else in your life who has ever hurt you in any way. Let them go. Forgive every boss, business partner, friend, crook or betrayer who has ever caused you grief of any kind. Clean the slate and forgive to forget. Wipe each of their names and images off by saying, “I forgive him/her for everything, and I wish him/her well.” Repeat this statement each time you think of the person or situation until the negative feelings are gone.
The fourth and final person you have to forgive is yourself. You must absolutely forgive yourself for every silly, senseless, wicked, brainless, thoughtless or cruel thing you have ever done or said. Stop carrying these past mistakes around with you. That was then and this is now.
Think of it this way. When you did those things in the past that you still feel badly about, you were not the person you are today. At that time, you were a different person, younger and less experienced. You were not your true self. You were an immature version of the person you have become with experience. Stop beating yourself up for something that occurred in the past that you cannot change.
Just say, “I forgive myself for every mistake I ever made. I am a thoroughly good person and I am going to have a wonderful future.” Whenever you think of that event or situation, just repeat, “I forgive myself completely.” And then get on with your life. Focus on the future rather than the past and don’t look back. Look at where you are going rather than where you have been.
Finally, if you did something that hurt someone, and you still feel badly about it, you can go to that person, or write, and apologize. Tell the person you are sorry for what you did or said. Whatever his or her reaction, positive or negative, it doesn’t matter. The very act of repentance, of expressing regret, will set you free.
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