The Confidence to Let Go of the Past and Our Suffering

by Catherine Pratt

Every single one of us on this planet suffers in some way. Doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, male or female, white, black or purple. As my friend tells me, “it’s part of our contract in being born. We have to suffer.” Some people seem to experience much greater personal tragedies than others but we all have painful issues we have to live through. It is part of life on this planet.

Suffering can happen in thousands of different ways and whether it takes place in the form of abuse (physical or mental), people cheating on us, loved ones dying on us, parents not loving us enough, car accidents or even losing our jobs, it doesn’t really matter in that we’re all affected by it at some point or at many points during our lives. Suffering is whatever causes us great emotional upheaval and we all have to go through it.

The difference is how we deal with our suffering and whether we're able to move on to emotional healing. We can deal with our pain or we can let it slowly destroy us. An important part of gaining confidence is to “let go” of our suffering and have the courage to move on and be the whole person we know we can be.

There’s two main steps in achieving the confidence to move past suffering.

1. Forgiveness

Forgive the person. This could be one person or it could be many. It could even be God. It’s whoever you feel has caused you great pain. Forgive them. Write them a letter.

Dear [blank],
I forgive you for [state whatever you feel has caused you the greatest emotional distress and anguish].

Be as completely honest as you can. Write it all down. You are NOT going to send this letter. You are the only person who will ever see this so get it all out. It’s important to write it down though. Saying it to yourself in your head does not make it “real” enough. Write it down. No one will ever see it so you don’t have to be afraid. Remember though, this is a letter of forgiveness and not blame. Blame is for victims and it makes you powerless. You are in control of your ability to forgive. “I forgive you”.

When you have done that, it is time to forgive one more person; yourself. At the time of the event, you did the best you could. Forgive yourself for letting it happen, for not doing something, for doing something. Whatever happened, forgive yourself. You cannot change the past. You can only become stronger from it.

Forgiveness is so important as the first step because it signifies a mental shift from being a victim to being the master of your life and having complete control over your destiny. You make the decision to forgive the person. You make the decision you are going to move on with your life. You are now taking action instead of simply reacting. You are in the process of taking back your power and being the master of your thoughts and your life.

2. Let It Go

This step can be harder than forgiveness. It can be quite easy to say “I forgive you” but still continue to hold on to the hurt and attachment to the “crime” and what you feel has been done to you.

Usually when we forgive someone, we are “blaming” or acknowledging that a wrong has been committed against us by that person. The problem comes when we secretly hold on to that crime. True forgiveness is about no longer holding on to or focusing on the action that got us so upset in the beginning. It is about moving on and completely becoming detached from the event.

The other part of letting go is that we can never truly feel the joy of today as long as we’re continuing to process or make sense of a past event. As Lynn Grabhorn says in her book the Excuse Me, Your Life is Waiting Playbook “So rather than denying or stuffing your past, go ahead and look at it, but without judgment. Look at it, express it, admit it, acknowledge it, accept it, and move on. In other words, let your past become something that is simply a matter of fact. That’s all. Express your disappointment, your regret, your anger, and then LET IT GO! If you don’t, you will continue to draw to you the very events that you are still resenting or regretting."

Letting go also means letting go of the anger. A lot of times we are so filled with anger against the person or event but feel that we are helpless to do anything about it. When this happens the anger can turn inwards and we become very self destructive. Self destruction can take any number of forms as we seem to be very inventive when it comes to hurting ourselves. Eating disorders, addictions to drugs and alcohol, bad relationships, crime, self mutilation, not being able to keep a job, being constantly accident prone and on and on it goes. Each one of us finds a different way to take out our anger on ourselves.

You have the power so let it go. You no longer need it.

It is important to understand that forgiveness and letting go won’t happen overnight. After years of having the hurt and anger bottled up inside, it can take a while to develop the willingness to let those emotions go and to allow other positive feelings to take their place. You just need to take that first step to allow real healing to take place. Keep forgiving and keep letting go. The emotions can be incredibly painful but there’s no way to heal except to go through it and feel the emotions.

You are the only one who has the power to let the past go and to move on with your life. It doesn’t matter what anyone else says or does, only you have the power to take control of your life. It is incredibly empowering when you get to the stage when the past does not control your future anymore. You are relieved of your burden of anger freeing you from your previous self destructive behaviour. You may find at this point that you are able to help others who are going through the exact same thing you did. You have gotten your life back. You are liberated from the past and you are finally truly free. You have gained unbelievable confidence in yourself and the world around you. You have moved beyond suffering. It is one of the greatest lessons we can learn during our lifetime.


When you look in the mirror and hate what you see,
you need addictions to survive.
Don Miguel Ruiz


Additional Ideas

You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay
This is a book that when I first read it 2 years ago, didn't make much of an impression on me. I re-read it again recently and I suddenly understood what it was trying to tell me. Perhaps I wasn't ready for it back then. This book describes basically how when we have emotions and thoughts we haven't acknowledged, it will appear on our body somehow. For example. If you bite your fingernails, it could be a sign that you're frustrated. Headaches, a sign of suppressed anger. Sore throats, anger at not being heard. It's interesting to read and there's some exercises to try. I think you do have to be at a point where you're ready to be willing to change and open to new ideas before you can relate to its ideas though.

Here's how I used what I learned from this book to cure a back ache I'd been suffering from: Body Pains - How Your Body May Be Dealing With Your Emotions


True forgiveness is when you can say,
"Thank you for giving me that experience".
Dr. Michael Beckwith


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