Most of us have had situations in our lives where we were hurt by someone we trusted – may it be a break-up, a tough childhood or a friend stabbing you in the back. You look back at these moments and instantly feel anger, sadness and/or pain. How can someone be so malicious? How could someone I trusted hurt me like that? What did I do to deserve this? Questions like this repeat in your mind as you attempt to understand the actions of another. Emotional pain can be unbearable and crippling. The truth is that holding on to those emotions isn’t punishing them, it’s actually punishing yourself. It sometimes feels like we’re addicted to the pain. We relive the moments over and over which only causes us to relive the pain. We don’t enjoy feeling this way so why do we endure it for so long? It’s so important to let go of the anger and hurt we harbor as it carries through with us everywhere we go. This leftover resentment will ruin the relationships we form with other people and cause unnecessary stress and unhappiness. Unconsciously, we punish ourselves and others for the wrong that has been done to us. So how do we let go? How do we move on from this? Here are 4 steps that may help you overcome your pain and your past:
- Figure out how you feel and why
Understanding your feelings is the most essential step. You must do this before you can begin to let go. Sometimes when we are hurt, we push those feelings away and suppress them. We often think this is the best way to get over it but doing that only makes it worse and can eventually lead to other issues. You can end up hurting other people you care about as a result. Resentment and anger will pop up in the most inopportune times. Don’t let the person who wronged you ruin your future happiness and personal relationships with others. Look inside yourself and examine how this person made you feel. Are you angry? Hurt? Sad? Disappointed? Then ask yourself why you feel these things. What exactly is causing these painful emotions to arise? Did they break your trust? Did they disregard your feelings? Did they deprive you of something you needed? Writing it all out and reading it back to yourself allows you to accept the situation better. Acceptance of what has happened is the first step. It’s crucial to understand what you feel and why you feel it. To get a hold of your emotions you must first understand them.
- Stop victimizing yourself
We can fall into this pattern of self-victimization – or as I like to call it: “throwing ourselves a pity party”. You feel sorry for yourself and you expect others to do the same but all this does is keeps us in a fragile and sulky state of mind unable to move forward. It keeps the hurtful memories alive. At some point you have to take responsibility for your emotions. Someone did something terrible to you and you have every right to be upset about it. However, harboring those feelings is a choice. You are choosing to remain hurt. You are choosing to remain resentful. You are the only person who controls your emotions. Don’t give that person the power to continue to hurt you long after the fact. We tend to compare our situation to others and fall into a “why me?” mindset. You may feel like no one understands because no one has been through a situation as terrible as yours but that’s not true. People react differently to different things. What may have not been the end of the world for you could be completely devastating to someone else. So although no one may have gone through your exact experience, they may have felt a similar pain. Understanding this helps to get you out of the victim mindset. The one thing we all have in common as humans is that we have emotions. We have all suffered, but it’s what you do about it that makes us different.
- Find the good in the bad
I am a true believer that everything happens for a reason and most of the times it’s to teach you something valuable. Trials and tribulations are necessary for personal growth. The bad times are what really make you. Honestly, I am thankful for those who have wronged me or hurt me as I learned something from each of them. The universe puts you in certain situations for a purpose. Life is all about evolving and without the hard times, you would have no reason to evolve. If you never stop to truly learn from the experience, you are doomed to repeat it until you understand the lesson the universe is attempting to teach you. Stop the cycle. Reflect on what you have gained from this person and this experience. Reflect on what you learned about yourself from this situation. Don’t allow the experience to make you bitter, allow it to make you better.
Forgive them, not to let the person off the hook but to let yourself off the hook. Forgiveness is for you, not for them. And I don’t mean necessarily confronting them and saying you forgive them, I mean truly telling yourself that you forgive them for what they did to you. Don’t wait for an apology because it may never come. Even if you received an apology, it most likely wouldn’t change the way you feel about what they did. It won’t change what has been done to you. An apology won’t make it less wrong. You’ll still feel the pain. Only you can change that. By forgiving, you’re not setting them free you’re setting yourself free. Holding a grudge is voluntarily giving up control of your emotions to that person. Take back control and let the resentment go. Holding on to the anger is like punishing yourself for what they did to you. The best revenge is to become removed from the situation and find peace for yourself.
We’ve all gone through hurtful experiences but you can’t go back and change it. All you can do is learn from it and become better from it. You can’t always control what occurs in your life but you can control how you let every situation change you – will it be for the better or for the worse? You’re not alone, even though it might feel like you are the only one in the world who has ever felt this way. I promise you, you’re not. Understand that what they did was an expression of them and not you. Hurt people hurt people. Painful experiences happen to everyone, but you’re not just everyone. You are determined to not let your past ruin your future. Time and a positive mindset are the best healing tools.