We all have grudges, some are more serious than others. Some grudges last hours, some last weeks and some last a lifetime. Let’s face it, it takes a lot of energy to carry these grudges around. Every hurtful relationship is stress that just eats away at us, one emotional fiber at a time. Depending on the day or situation our grudges can leave us emotionally and physically depleted. The energy we use up carrying around the emotional baggage given to us by someone else is energy we all could use in more productive and meaningful ways. Instead, we unwittingly trudge along worrying, stewing and worse, demeaning ourselves trying to find the upper hand on someone who gave us a fist full of duds.
Many people don’t understand how I could have forgiven my father for the many years of pain that his actions have caused me. I know there are still many people around me who haven’t forgiven him. I have been told that it is ok to be angry, to lash out if need be over what I have been through. There was once a time where I was very angry with him and carried raw emotion everywhere I went. I stewed on that pain for a very long time and it wasn’t until I was given a very critical piece of advice from a family counselor that I was able to begin to regain my control over my emotions. She told me that every time I think of him, to mark him “zero”. Give him zero of my time, zero of my emotion and zero of my energy. She reminded me that every time I thought of my abuse and his actions, I was giving him power over my life. It was profound and a life-saving concept that has lead to where I am today.
I won’t lie, letting go of my father was not easy. It was very difficult. There were days I would fail and feel the guilt. Some days that guilt would even make me hurt physically. Letting go of his influence over me took a long time and I would have to build up my own confidence and my own courage to face this world without him and my mother for that matter. There were times I would have to dig deep inside and ask the question if what I was doing at the time was for me, or in spite of them. Before going on stage for my TEDx talk, I thought a lot about what I was doing and concluded that I was doing it for me and my healing. When the time came to release my book, was I doing it for me? or was I doing it for revenge? When I went to the police to tell them what had happened to me, I spent many hours thinking about why I had to go through with it. It has been a tough journey, but one that has built me to be the most confidence and courageous version of myself that I hsve ever known. I have let go of him, my mother and all of the negative emotions that I had carried away from them.
There is this idea that by letting go of the negative emotions given to us by another person or forgiving them, we are allowing them back into our lives, giving them a free pass to hurt us again. That really isn’t the case at all. By holding onto a grudge, we are only guarding our greatest insecurities. By remaining on emotional guard, we are really only promoting our weaknesses in our lack of courage and self-confidence. The emotional pain that we tack onto another human being is simply just a weak door mean to guard us against imaginary failure. Our efforts to heal are misdirected by waiting for the other person to apologize and succumb to our will. By focusing on being courageous and confidence in your ability to maintain a healthy relationship with yourself, you will see that you no longer seek the quasi-protection that animosity brings. Seek opportunities to bring yourself up instead of waiting for that opportune time to take the other guy down. When you build up your confidence and courage, letting go will be so undeniably easy, I promise you that; I have lived it.