Have you ever been hurt emotionally by someone else? If you’re old enough to read this, you probably have. It’s one of life’s certainties. Hurts come from all sorts of places. Sometimes it’s from those closest to us. Sometimes not. There’s no singular source of pain in our lives. The only thing we can be certain of is that we will be hurt by someone. Past hurts will hold on to us as long as we allow them.
How do we let go of past hurts? Are we destined to carry them around forever? Is it even possible to let go of past hurts? Fortunately, we can let go of past hurts and stop carrying them around. You may need the help of a counselor to let go of past hurts. For smaller ones, here are 4 steps to help you…
1. Decide You are Going to
This seems like a no-brainer. But it isn’t. Holding on to past hurts has a purpose. We remind ourselves that we were victimized (at varying degrees of severity) by another person. It gives us permission to be angry. Holding on to the hurt gives us permission to not move on. Is the decision to let go of past hurts one that you can make? Do you really want to? If your answer is yes, then keep reading.
2. Express Your Pain
Everyone wants to be heard. However, not everyone wants to listen. For that matter, not everyone is even capable of listening. Write a letter to the person who hurt you. Say anything and everything you want. Tell them what the hurt was and why it hurt. Get it all out. Don’t hold anything back. Read it out loud as if the person were sitting there listening. Then…get rid of it. Rip it, shred it, burn it…get rid of it.
3. Accept Your Own Responsibility
It may very well be true that someone hurt you. I have no doubt. I get it. However, you don’t have to be a victim forever. Your feelings about that event don’t have to override everything else in your life. You can choose to focus on the hear-and-now and stop blaming others.
You can construct a new life with new meaning and new activities. You don’t have to remain stuck. If you are going to let go of past hurts, you have to no longer be a victim. When I stop being a victim, I stop blaming my pain on others. I accept that my perspective, my thoughts, and even my behavior are now responsible for the pain I feel. This doesn’t mean pain doesn’t exist. It simply means I am going to take responsibility for it. The past will never change, no matter how much I ruminate. I am responsible for making today as good as it can be – not changing the past.
This is a hard one. It’s hard, in part, because we all have a different view of what forgiveness is in the first place. My definition of forgiveness is simply not allowing the past hurt to have any influence on my emotions or behavior anymore. It means that I am going to take control of my emotions by changing my thinking.
Forgiveness does not mean we approve of what was done to us. On the contrary, forgiveness says, “What you did was wrong but I am going to take control of my own life in spite of past hurts.” Forgiveness is really for us. We may never even see the offending party again. Forgive and set your emotions free.
You can let go of past hurts. It takes time. It takes effort. It takes change. You can do it!
What things have you done to help you let go of past hurts? Leave your comments or questions below. We would love to hear from you!