Letting Go: How to Free Yourself From Pains of the Past

by Dr. Christopher on January 31, 2011

Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” ~ The Buddha

See through the darkness.

Who do you hold a grudge against?  Who can’t you forgive?

A loved one, for leaving you?

A friend, for criticizing you?

A business partner, for treating you without compassion?

Yourself, for the person you were?

What feelings does that grudge anchor you to?

Anger?  Sadness?  Grief?

Why must you let go?

Your past that you hold on, the grudge that has become yours…

It’s killing you.  It’s making you sick.  It’s causing your back pain.  It’s why your unhappy.

It’s a burden on your shoulders that you need to drop.  A path of darkness, where you must follow the light.

Both your ego and other people will use your past as leverage against you.  To determine what they think you should be doing.

Only in your heart do you know what is right.

The health and happiness of your spouse, your kids, your friends, and YOU, depends on you letting go of the past to be present today.

6 Steps to Forgiveness

In It’s Not the End of the World: Developing Resilience in Times of Change(Thank you Amy!), Joan Borysenko moves you through the jungle of darkness and suffering as quickly as possibly to the other side.

Most people spend their lives in the jungle, with no apparent paths out.

Joan shows you the way.  Using “6 Steps to Forgiveness” created by psychologist Frederic Luskin, you can let go of your past.

  1. Get your story out.  Be with your feelings, recognize what you’re not ok with, and tell someone.
  2. Whatever hurt you is history.  Forgiveness is meant to heal the bad feelings you’re still carrying around from the past.  When you experience negative emotions, change the mental channel by either feeling deeper into the emotion or changing the mental channel.  But do not dwell.
  3. Living well is the best revenge.  Your grudge is hurting you, not the other.  The other has already taken enough.  Learn to enjoy beauty, share friendship, help others, have fun, and spread joy and kindness.
  4. Life is not fair, so get over thinking that it should be.  Your task is to serve your purpose and enjoy life, not to even the scales of justice by punishing anyone, including yourself.  Be grateful for all the good you do have.
  5. Evict the victim.  Suffering didn’t happen to you.  You brought it on yourself.  Forgive yourself and learn the lesson.  Who have you become because of your past?
  6. Be patient and vigilant.  Forgiveness doesn’t happen overnight.  Be gentle with yourself.  Notice hurt feelings, but don’t marinate in them.

Forgive yourself.

Yes, forgive the other.  More importantly, forgive yourself for your past.

I blamed myself for my parent’s divorce, for losing loved ones in my life, and for actions I did in the past that make me want to vomit.

Occasionally, I still cry and curse myself because I can’t believe the person that I was.  Then, I remember patience.

Following a similar process to the “6 Steps” from above, loving myself, and being with the imaginary friend I call “God,” I can rid myself of emotional pains and choose happiness everyday.

Who do you need to forgive that is holding you down?

What emotions do you need to let go of?

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa Williams December 9, 2012 at 1:04 am

Thanks for this great site. Can you explain what you mean by you brought suffering on yourself? how does this apply to victims of abuse, rape?

Dr. Christopher December 10, 2012 at 6:32 pm

HI Lisa, you’re very welcome, and thank you for commenting.

What do I mean by “you brought suffering on yourself”? “Bad things” did happen to me in my life. But I perpetuated the negativity by continuing to tell myself a story. That story was anchored to negative emotions, feelings, thoughts, and music that pushed me back into the jungle anytime I experienced any of those things.

For any victim of serious trauma like abuse or rape, I would always recommend that they get professional help. But still, these steps can be helpful as I’ve found that traumatized people don’t fully heal (and forgive) themselves for the event that occurred. While I have NOT experienced signficant trauma and cannot completely relate to someone who has been traumatized to this extent, my heart goes out to anyone who does. Compassion, forgiveness, love, and gentleness can be valuable energies to bring to a person who has experienced “the jungle” for too long.

I hope this is helpful.

Love, Chris

bailey plumb May 5, 2013 at 1:58 am

hi i just wanted to say i needed this, i have just been so emotional confused about other people but now i see the light that guided me out of my past and into my future and present i forgive myself and others. It was like i was in a jungle filled with my past but i found the way out

i thank this page alot

-Bailey Plumb

Dr. Christopher May 5, 2013 at 6:00 pm

You’re welcome Bailey.

Isabella June 25, 2013 at 12:39 pm

I really can’t forget the past,actually I got cheat from my ex boyfriend,I did everything for him,I gave everything to him,we had been broke up for nearly half year,sometime I told everyone that I forgot him,he still exist in my heart and mind though.How could I forget him?Anytime I think about him,I will be mad,even whenever I am working,my thought will bring me down,I will be like moody.Even some small matter,I will be mad and angry like a bomb which can’t be touch.What should I do?

Dr. Christopher June 27, 2013 at 5:58 pm

When did this happen Isabella? Are you resisting healing? Are you loving yourself? Do you love yourself? Are you able to say “I love you Isabella” into the mirror? What do you enjoy about life? What are you grateful for?

I imagine there were things about him that you didn’t like? Do you understand the concept of the ego? Can you tell if your ego is resisting healing?

Sometimes, we just need to allow ourselves to heal. It’s the “letting go” that allows it to happen.

Is that helpful?

kavi March 15, 2014 at 2:43 am

its not too easy,,,i try it every day but nothing do help,,im trying it from last 2 year….one moment im too happy then next moment everything falling down…

Dr. Christopher March 15, 2014 at 8:46 am

Not easy at all Kavi. If you need help, please make sure you reach out to a qualified professional or even check yourself in. Make sure that you keep yourself safe otherwise.

If you can, try to see things from a different perspective. Use the psychological reframe. Go get some sun. Make sure you’re sleeping 8 hours a night, at minimum. Build yourself up.

Pls let me know how I can help? I’m here.

kavi March 16, 2014 at 12:36 pm

i dont know
sometime i feel so hopeless.
so confused.
my gf got married
and well we are still in love.,,i cant leave her,she cant leave me..her life also becoming hard cause she loves me.sometime i think im ruining her life cause she cant move on cause of me..no relationship with husband,but how long he will wait?her new family always ask her about babyy?oh god i cant even think about it,,we fight sometime but we get together.,we talk daily,,,but i always have a fear of losing her,,i dont know what will be our future???

Dr. Christopher March 29, 2014 at 9:02 am


Slow down. Sometimes, the best form of “Unconditional love” is to understand “if you love it, let it go, if it comes back to you, it was meant to be.” Take some time away from her and see how it plays out.

There is always hope Kavi. The sun rises everyday, you can count on that.

Go inside. Pay attention to your heart. I hope this helps.

kavi March 31, 2014 at 12:38 pm

i tried…so many times….last year oct,nov,dec.3 three months i didnt talk to her…i broke all my contacts…it was like i was not living…it was like life just goin on…she tried to talk to me many times,,but i didnt….but she came back to me after 3 months…she always comes back,,she dont want me to go away,,.but we cant be together…but we are together..idk how long we wil go like this,,,.but i know its end will be so bad…..
thank u doc…wt u saying is all good nd so right…maybe someday i will try it again in the end or aftrr the end,..,.

Dr. Christopher April 13, 2014 at 1:57 pm

Kavi, it’s going to hurt, but pull off the band aid quickly to get it over with. In the process of the suffering is opportunity for growth. If you see it that way, it’s possible that both of you can be much better off after the fact. Try to see it from different perspective. I hope this helps.

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