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Letting Go & Forgiveness Means Putting Yourself First

Forgiveness doesn't have to be the goal.

I can’t even count how many clients come in and assume forgiveness is their goal in therapy. They are then shocked, and pleasantly surprised, when I tell them it doesn’t have to be. Forgiveness doesn’t always have to be the goal. Forgiveness is a difficult and sometimes impossible task. Your therapy goal should always be something realistic and attainable and it should help you decrease your symptoms and help you feel better. Usually the mere thought of forgiving someone who hurt us instantly brings about feelings of anger, resentment, or fear. So why would this be the goal? 

Realistically, we can forgive but we can never forget. There’s something about letting go of the pain that isn’t as emotionally challenging as having to forgive someone that hurt us. So is there a difference between letting go and forgiving? Only a slight one... we can let go without having to forgive but we can’t forgive without letting go. I think if we can get ourselves to let go of the pain, forgiveness will not seem so impossible and will eventually be the natural next step in our progress. So maybe it’s just easier to trick our mind to begin the journey of forgiveness.

So let’s start with letting go...

It’s important to understand that we can’t let it go without first feeling it. Then, and only then, can we truly let it go. If we don’t do this then we're merely repressing and denying the pain. We’re basically building a house of cards. We won't be on a solid foundation and we’ll be blown over by slightest problem. We must rebuild on solid ground and to do that we have to get all that pain inside of us out- all the anger, fear, sadness, guilt, rejection, shame... all of it. 

We do this by giving ourselves permission to stop and process the pain. We need to identify what we feel and why we feel it. We can do this through talking about it with someone we trust or a therapist or we can write about it. There’s journaling or writing what’s called a therapy letter (which is a letter only used for the purposes of therapy and will never actually be given to anybody). You can address the letter to the person who caused you pain and tell them everything you wish you could tell them without consequences. The letter doesn’t have to make sense. It doesn’t have to be grammatically correct. It doesn’t even have to be full sentences. Just get it out. But you’ve got to channel the pain and get it all out on paper. When you’re done, destroy it -rip it up, Burn it, whatever you want to but don’t reread it. Just like you wouldn’t eat what you just regurgitated, you don’t want to put all the pain back in your mind and body. 

Other forms of processing pain can be through poetry, music, writing songs or anything similar. Afterwards, be sure to use healthy and appropriate coping skills such as working out, taking a long hot shower or bubble bath, playing with a pet, doing something fun with friends... anything that helps calm you down and recover from the emotions you just experienced. Repeat this process as often as necessary.

The intensity of the emotions will gradually decrease over time. The more you process your emotions you will begin to become more desensitized to them and eventually come to a place of indifference. The goal is to just make peace with your past. Once you’re able to get to a place of peace, forgiveness won’t seem like an impossible, unattainable challenge anymore.

For more help going through the process of forgiveness take my course on the app, Insight Timer, titled "Guide To Forgiveness: A Spiritual Process."

Free Spirit Coaching & Psychological Services brings you out of the office and into the outdoors for therapy, life coaching, equine coaching, spiritual coaching, crystal reiki healing, animal energy healing, intuitive & astrological reading, retreats, and special events.

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For more self-help talks, guided exercises and meditations check out these resources:

Dr. Traci Moreno on Insight Timer-

Free Spirit's YouTube Channel-

Spiritual Psychology Support Group Hosted by Dr Traci and Pasquale-

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