Letting go of anger and bitterness can work wonders for both your attitude and your health, not to mention your relationships. Karen Salmansohn offers you eight ways to start forgiving and forgetting.
A wise woman and her young disciple were walking down the street. Suddenly, out of nowhere, an angry man in a carriage drove haphazardly by the two, insensitively pushing the woman out of his way. She landed in a ditch filled with muddy water. The woman yelled after the man in the carriage, "May you have everything you want!" The disciple, surprised by the wise woman's response, said: "I'm confused. Why did you say that to a man with such horrible behavior?" The woman replied, "Because a happy man wouldn't have thoughtlessly pushed a woman into a ditch."
Do you agree with this woman's response? In my book The Bounce Back Book, I offer empowering strategies for embracing forgiveness and liberating yourself from anger and bitterness—even in the most challenging situations.
Here are eight strategies to free you from your resentments starting today!
Say a Prayer
Whenever angry feelings about a person who's harmed you enter your mind, tell yourself: "We are all good, loving souls who occasionally get lost." Pray for this person to find their way back to a happier place—in the same way the woman in this story prayed for her offender.
Focus on Gratitude
Resist seeking happiness from the outside in. Instead, focus on gratitude exercises to bring happiness from the inside out. If you allow your self-image to be at the mercy of unpredictable events and unreliable people, your happiness will be forever on a chaotic roller coaster ride! Happiness must always be an inside joy! When you are tempted to focus on all the ways the world has done you wrong, instead count your blessings by making a list of the five aspects of your life that you appreciate. It is good practice to purposefully end your day this way to keep focused.
Look for the Lesson
Many Buddhists consider huge difficulties to be a sign you're an old soul—the bigger your misfortunes, the closer you are to enlightenment. Whether you believe this or not, it's certainly cheery to reframe all your life's bad events as tests of your character. If you feel particularly tested right now, ask yourself what the heck you're being tested for! Patience? Compassion? Resilience? Forgiveness? Open-mindedness? What strengths must you develop further? Now consciously go out there and develop them!
The importance of perspective
If you're going through a challenging time, remind yourself that this specific event is merely a part of your life—not your "whole" life. Consciously keep this "slice of life" perspective, and don't let the event overwhelm you. As the song goes, "The best is yet to come!"
Learn the Lesson
Develop a "student not victim" mentality. Vow not only to disentangle yourself from emotionally harmful situations, but also to consciously avoid similar situations in the future.
Let Go of Resentment
Keep in mind a fabulous Carrie Fisher quote: "Resentment is the poison you swallow hoping the other person will die." Recognize that when you resent someone, you are not only hurting yourself, you're also giving this person control of your emotions—and you don't want to give this person bubkes!
Recognize that when you respond with hate to hate, anger to anger, bitterness to bitterness, you are ironically becoming part of the problem. Choose to resist becoming like them and instead put in the conscious effort to remain a loving, soulful, happy person.
Get Revenge Positively
Contemplating revenge? The best kind of revenge is living a successful, happy life. If you train yourself to consistently be more loving in thoughts and actions, your energy will attract more positive people and positive results. As Albert Einstein said, "You can't solve a problem by staying in the same energy in which it was created." To stay focused on highly positive thoughts, repeat this meditation ritual throughout the day: "Love, forgiveness, letting go, peace."
Karen Salmansohn is a best-selling author known for creating self-help for people who wouldn't be caught dead reading self-help. Get more information on finding a loving happier-ever-after relationship in her book Prince Harming Syndrome.
More Reading from Karen Salmansohn:
How to know and grow your potential
Ready to find love? Create a love teleology!
Are you a feminist or a feminine-ist?
Should you break up or make up?
Here's how to be happy, dammit!
Wanna lose weight? Go on a word diet!
Printed from Oprah.com on Sunday, December 8, 2013
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