On Forgiveness and Letting Go of Anger and Hurt..

Forgiveness, A choice and a DecisionJust recently, I’ve had the amazing opportunity to review Kristin Robertson’s e-book “A Forgiveness Journal” wherein she talks about her journey from anger to forgiveness in the face of “betrayals and abandonment”.

And how forgiveness changed her life for the better, as it can yours.

I was particularly struck by “Forgiveness is like letting yourself out of a prison”.

Indeed, when you can’t forgive someone, guess who suffers? Often, the other person’s moved on, while days, months and sometime, even years later, you’re still carrying the burden.

Sound familiar at all? This was definitely true for me till a few years ago!

Another point she makes is that holding grudges can also make you physically sick.

I’m thinking back to one of my mentors and how she developed (and subsequently cured herself of) breast cancer TWICE in her life.

Each time, it was the result of anger and unexpressed feelings she harboured around the 2 main men in her life (death of her brother and the end of a major love relationship) and forgiveness / self healing played a big part in her recovery.

So WHY forgive and how can one get to the point of peace? The main points (and challenges) have been described early on:

  • Forgiveness is not an easy path to choose
  • You develop the ability to forgive at your own pace
  • Forgiveness is a decision and a process (you can CHOOSE to forgive – sense the freedom in that?)
  • The cost of not forgiving is compromised health, unhappiness, and an attachment to the past
  • The path to happiness is forgiveness (Boy, can I ever relate to this one! The hardest part for me has been letting go of my righteous anger in the past. And the subconscious desire to play victim.. )

This isn’t just another book on forgiveness; it’s a 7 step process using exercises and journaling  to help you work through this healing process.

1) Identify Your Feelings – What are you really feeling? Anger is the expression of other feelings like betrayal, abandonment, fear, frustration, resentment, guilt, anxiety, unworthiness etc that lie beneath. A sign that your basic needs like integrity, safety, security, love and acceptance are not being met. Acknowledge these feelings.

2) Talk it Out – Next, you need to talk about these feelings to help process them (there’s an exercise in the journal you can use to share your story). The best part? She advocates sharing your story no more than three times, after that it’s time to move on. Excellent advice borrowed from Native American traditions.

3) Change Your Viewpoint – Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. In some cases this may be extremely hard so a lot of patience and time may be required. Look at any part you may have played in the situation and be watchful of mind self-pity, anger, revenge, and victim thinking.

4) Gain Perspective – This step is especially helpful to those who need to forgive themselves for past actions that they regret. At this stage of the process, the heart chakra represents the transition from ego-based energy centers in the human body to spirit-based energy centers.

5) Let Go – You might be clinging to several reasons not to let go. For example, perhaps you are receiving sympathy from others when you talk about your pain or have tied your self-image and self-worth to being the victim in your grievance story. In other words, what are the payoffs keeping you stuck?

Reminds me of a story my dad told me about 2 monks who’d taken the vow of celibacy and were at a river bank when they saw a young woman struggling to cross.

Without a word, one of the monks lifted her in his arms and crossed the river, putting her down on the other side. The 2nd monk was silent for the next 5 miles and then couldn’t stop himself any longer.

“Why did you touch her?!”, he cried out. “We’re not supposed to look at or touch women!”. Said the 1st monk “My friend, I put her down 5 miles ago, you’re the one who is still carrying her in your mind..”

6) Take Action – The previous step was about clearing the energy around your hurt and anger. This next step is about deciding if any action needs to be taken – eg: a letter to be written, talk to be had. Whatever you feel is needed to truly let go and move on.

7) Bless the Other – Possibly the hardest of all. You may be thinking “I’m no Mother Teresa, I can forgive but I can’t wish them well”. And yet, you can. One day. If you choose.

Completing this step will give you the biggest gift you could get – freedom and peace of mind. The book ends with a healing prayer of peace and more exercises to help you process your feelings.  _________________________________________________________________________

What questions do you have around forgiveness? Kristin will be visiting the blog for the next couple of days to answer and share her insights / experiences. I’ve got a question from one of you for her: How can one get past being betrayed or abandoned especially if these are childhood wounds being triggered? Thank you!

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  1. says

    What a wonderful article. Everyone should read this! There would be so much more peace in the world if we could all learn to forgive eachother. It really is such an energy drain on our lives. And not only should we forgive but we shouuld ask ourselves what were the “fruits of that suffering”?

    When Ravensbruck concentration camp was liberated in 1945 this is the prayer that was found in a prisoners pocket. May we all learn the deeper lessons it offers us:

    “”O Lord, remember not only the men and women of good will but also those of ill will. But do not remember all the suffering they have inflicted on us, remember the fruits we brought thanks to this suffering – our comradeship, our loyalty, our humility, the courage, the generosity, the greatness of heart which has grown our of this; and then they come to judgement, let all the fruits we have borne be their forgiveness”

  2. says

    So true, Sean! The amount of time we spend being angry and unforgiving is directly proportionate to our quality of life. There truly is nothing worse than being a ‘victim’ of one’s past and letting anger stop us from moving on.

    That prayer reminded me of Viktor Frankl’s story (Man’s Search for Meaning) and how he concluded that even in the most absurd, painful and dehumanized situations such as living in a concentration camp, life has potential meaning and that therefore even suffering is meaningful.

    No matter how much someone has wronged us, it’s upto us to not let it affect our entire lives. A test of the human nature.

    Thank you so much for your comment Sean, you said it beautifully.

  3. says

    Thanks Iyabo. Found this quote on forgiveness that matches what you’re saying:

    “When you hold resentment or anger toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.”

    The best case for forgiveness I could ever make – emotional freedom!

  4. Anna says

    Forgiveness + Letting Go = Emotional Freedom, Joy, Love…

    I know it. I see it in my life – my father’s bones are falling apart, dangerously advanced osteoporosis, and the worse it gets, the more disdain he has for me… so very angry that his ailing health isn’t making me change my life to suit him. I know this is true, because each time he and his wife have a new beef with me, they bring up his health in the same breath – “blah blah blah, and your father isn’t a well man, you know!”

    What a horrible and sad way to live.

    I’m all for forgiving — and keeping my bones intact!

    Loving Life

  5. says

    Oh Anna! I have the GREATEST respect and admiration for your refusal to engage in the emotional blackmail (as it appears). Having grown up in India I know only too well what that’s all about (not my parents luckily).

    Seems to me there’s so much fear and pain beneath all that anger, that he isn’t open to dealing with just yet. Truly sad and yet it’s the experience he is choosing. You seem to have perfect understanding and response-ability to this situation. Thank you for sharing so openly and honestly. xo

  6. says

    Great post. And for some additional perspective on the subject, I invite you and your readers to check out this short video — ahamoment.com/pg/moments/view/1888 — it’s the story of one woman’s “aha moment” when she realized she needed to forgive in order to move on with her life in a positive manner. I think you’ll enjoy it.



  7. says

    Thanks for taking the time to comment and share that video, Jack. Very courageous and open of Shawn to share her experience. And I love the website name – the Aha Moment, how VERy cool! I hope to see you here again. Cheers! Tia

  8. says

    “Self-righteous,” “letting go,” and “perspective” – these are some of the words contained within this post that grab my attention when I think about forgiveness.

    The anger we hold on to only serves to create stress – the flight or fight response that releases a cascade of 1400 chemical changes. This is harmful to our emotional, mental and physical health.

    In my own journey I’ve found that when I practise heart-activated techniques, the resentment dissipates and I gain a new perspective, thus enabling me to move on.

    You speak about gifts…when you forgive, you forgift – others and yourself. This is liberating and allows you to put your energy into things that really matter.

    Thanks for providing such a concise review, Tia.

  9. says

    “When you forgive, you forgift” I’ve never heard it said that way before, and I’m struck by the simplicity. Genius!

    Now I’m curious – what heart-activated techniques do you use? Care to share? Just recently started meditating again and it’s amazing what 15 minutes of peace and mental quiet can do for my day.

    Would love to hear about more resources. Thanks for commenting, Marianna!

  10. says


    Thanks so much for posting this review of my book, A Forgiveness Journal!

    I wanted to respond to your question about childhood wounds. These are hard memories to forgive because children’s minds and spirits are very impressionable, and children don’t have the reasoning ability to fully process what happens to them.

    So you “hard-wire” those childhood interpretations into your brain and spirit. Yet, you can change your thinking about anything and free yourself from the prison of unforgiveness. My book is a journal that encourages you to write your deepest thoughts and feelings about the original incident so you can process, with your adult reasoning, what happened to you.

    Following the process that Tia outlined in her post, you can attain that inner peace that is the hallmark of true forgiveness.

    If you’d like to hear more about forgiveness, you may wish to register for an inspirational and complimentary telesummit starting on August 1, 2009 to commemorate International Forgiveness Day.

    For this telesummit, I’ve interviewed seven amazing forgiveness experts. You’ll be inspired and enlightened – in the comfort of your own office or home! You can learn more about it at http://kristinrobertson.com/marketplace/telesummit2009/

    Again, thanks to Tia for highlighting my book!

  11. says

    Thanks Kristin! I would suggest something similar – healing childhood wounds by giving your inner child the love/appreciation/safety/support/he or she needed and didn’t get as a child. We all have a child, teenager and adult in us and the adult can nurture the child within in a way no one else can. This is one of the greatest healing practices I’ve found and would work well for our reader. Love your book, thanks for writing it!

  12. says

    Practice makes anything seem easy! It’s the daily decisions we make regarding forgiveness and being happy that can be a challenge – there’s where our “work” is. Then, it’s all easy 😉

  13. gloria says

    I had been in a relationship for 18yrs but throughout these years always feel insecure due to my partners actions. Lastly he convince me from now he will treat me right, I am deeply in love with him and so I believed him. this had been a long distance relationship but last year he came to visit me toconvince me but during his short stay, there were incidents that makes me feel uncomfortabel there were phone calls from another woman.

    I tried to letgo because I had been in lot of emotional pain, Before he left I spoke to him about the lady and I told him I love him. He convince me he will try to dissovle the relationship with the other woman. A month later after he left I went to visit him. I was in his car when this same lady phoned and he answered. After he finish his conversation I turned to him ask him who it was and he told me it was this lady. i said to him I love you honey.

    He responded by saying “You do not love me” I felt so hurt like a knife stuck in my heart. I took time of my job, spent romantc night with him few hours before that call. it hurt. I force myself to be happy during my stay. Couple of days later he sneak around a corner talking on the phone and I heard him saying “I love you, and I know you love me too, We both love each other and there were some other things said I cannot include right now. I cried it was painful to hear him telling someone I know you love me when couple of days ago i said to him I love you and he said I do not.

    I did not say anything to him because was afraid he will be annoyed thinking I listen to his conversation but the next day I tried to express my feelings with reflect to our 18yrs relationship and he hurt me again saying he was in a relaitonship duiring our relationship and had love that lady but would try to make me happy now.

    Later when I returned to my state he call me every morning but I was going through emotional pain not letting him know how I was treated during my visit. I decided to talk to him that he hurt me during my stay. To my surprise he insulted me that I am mentally sick. I cried and for couple of days he did not phone me. I phone and beg him. later he phone and I told him I am not mentally sick but his negative actions is hurting me and affecting my health.

    He did not allow me to point out the issues and I was crying He asked me to forgive me and would try to make me happy. But a day after he told me he is going to another state for business transaction and I later found out it was all lie. he change from talking to me daily to once a week, I decided to forgive but it was difficult to forget because we had not address my feelings.

    I read you 7 Steps and I was on #2 He phoned and I spoke to him about my feelings and I feel he treat other girls special than me because of the disrespect during the phone call eventhough I was around. When I spoke to him about my feelings because I just want us to talk about it because we did not talk about it before. He go upset and told me he did not want the relationship anymore because I brought up the same issue that he had ask me to forgive him. i told him I had forgiven you but with your recent behavior changes I want to talk to you and want you to tell me why do you do some negative actions towards me I just want answer. I just want to put a closure to this negative feeling because you never gave me an answer,

    I am so devastated right now he said he want me just for an ordinary freind and not a romantic partner anymore. I am confuse why because I thought I was doing the right thing doing your 7 steps. It makes me feel there was no love but I just want your opinion. I pleaded with him but his mind is made up. pls tell me what to do.

  14. says

    Gloria, first of all I want to acknowledge the pain you are in right now and also for reaching out. That’s very brave and open of you and I am very, very glad that you chose to share how you are feeling and asking for help. Hang in there!

    In the 7 steps of forgiveness, the 1st step is all about feeling the emotions, which you are doing. So you are at stage 1 and here, the only important thing is for you to take care of yourself. Forget about all the other steps, you aren’t anywhere close to REAL forgiveness yet. Forgiveness can’t come to you when you are in this emotional state, and neither will worrying about that help.

    It seems to me that you are hurting so badly right now that you are convincing yourself to try and forgive him in order to avoid losing him. This isn’t real forgiveness, it’s desperation and clinging onto him.

    But Gloria, the one thing we cannot do is make other people’s minds up for them or make them change. The only way someone changes is if they want to change.

    You say that you’ve been insecure for years in this 18 year old relationship – that is an indication that you’ve made him more important than you and lost a lot of self esteem and self respect as a result. Co-dependency is toxic in a relationship and from what you are describing I’m inclined to say you are better off on your own!

    I don’t know if there was love or not and there’s nothing to say that he didn’t love you when he said he did. However, love doesn’t vanish overnight and from it seems you knew in your heart and just didn’t want to acknowledge it. I could be wrong, but that’s what I’m picking up on.

    This may not be what you want to hear and can seem harsh since you’re still in so much pain, but hello – he cheats on you, tells you you’re mentally sick and you have to FORCE yourself to be happy around him. What part of this equals love? Love is not meant to be so painful.

    You deserve better, Gloria!! Please take this as a time to let yourself fall apart and pick up the pieces when you are ready to start healing. You owe it to yourself to start loving yourself enough to do that.

    I’m sorry for your pain and I hope this is the start of a new chapter in your life – one that empowers you, makes you want to live a happier life, has you going within yourself to seek peace and love, helps you see your strength and resilience and opens the door to an unknown but exciting future.

    One day, if you treat yourself right, you will be SO glad this happened. I can’t wait to see that day with you. Thank you again for writing and please let me know how I can help. Do you have close friends or family you can talk to? It’s important for you to have support in this time so please do reach out to people around you and let them help you.

    Much love and courage to you xo

  15. says

    I can feel your pain and am so sorry that you are going through this difficult time. I agree with Tia – what part of this equals love?
    Please consider separating your need to forgive your boyfriend from your decision to act. Ideally our actions should be loving ones – but first to ourselves. If you can forgive him, then you can take clear action. Your action should be to protect and love yourself first, just as the Universe loves you so tenderly. Please consider setting good boundaries around your needs first. Take care of yourself by realizing that your boyfriend is hurting you. I don’t see this situation improving until you love yourself enough to end the relationship.
    I will keep you in my thoughts for a positive, self-loving outcome!


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