As we have talked about many times before, most of the pain that we experience in the present is rooted in our own unresolved issues, baggage, and traumas from the past. And Life, being the greatest school that there is, will continue sending us the same lessons over and over again until we learn them. So, if you find yourself making the same sort of mistakes over and over again: The same bad relationships, bad jobs, or general unhappiness, here are some tools you can use to start finding your way out of that cycle once and for all.

Tool #1: Forgiveness.

Really, this all boils down to forgiveness: Forgiving them for whatever they did or didn’t do, and forgiving yourself for what you did or didn’t do. Now remember, when we say forgiveness, it doesn’t mean that whatever they did or didn’t do is OK…maybe it wasn’t OK at all. But, it’s done, and in the past. My favorite quote on forgiveness comes from The Buddha: ‘Holding on to anger with the intent of hurting someone else, is like picking up a hot coal with the intention of throwing it: You are the one who gets burned.’Of course, forgiveness can be very difficult to manage; if it was easy, you’d have done it already! The first thing to figure out is who it is that needs forgiving (and don’t forget to put yourself on that list!). The biggest clue is to see how you are feeling now, and think back to the earliest memory you have of feeling that way. Who was there? What was happening? It may seem like something simple, but you’d be amazed by what things stick with us. If it’s a particularly painful memory, I have recorded something called a ‘swish pattern’ that you can use to heal painful memories, sometimes instantly.

Tool #2: Writing it out.

Often times, it’s not possible to tell the person that we forgive them. It may not be possible to talk to them for one reason or another, up to and including them having transitioned to the next world. And, quite often the other person may not want your forgiveness, if they don’t think they did anything wrong! Luckily enough, that doesn’t matter, since forgiveness is something you do for you; it’s a gift you give *yourself*. Remember, the goal is not validating their choices, but releasing your lingering negativity towards them. Since good, bad, or indifferent, they did their best; in the end, they were the product of THEIR own unresolved baggage, issues, and trauma from the past!

So, the way around this is to write down everything you want to say to them. Actually write it on paper, not type on a computer. There are many reasons why I say that, which are beyond the scope of the article, so just trust me on this one. Say any and everything you need to say, be as mean and nasty as necessary, or as genuine and caring as you feel. There is no way to do this wrong, the only mistake would be holding back. Once you are done, I do *not* suggest you give the letter to the person; once again, this is about you letting it out and your healing. I recommend you either keep it somewhere safe, or believe it or not: Burn it. Once you’ve truly released it, why keep it around?

Tool #3: A heart-to-heart talk.

So, I just got done saying not to give the person you’re forgiving the letter, so who is it I’m suggesting you talk to? This tool is simple to explain, but I can be hard to do because you’ll have to face your harshest critic and source of all your insecurities: Yourself.

Here is how it works: Go somewhere with a mirror and privacy; restrooms work best, but your car’s rearview mirror works well, too. Anywhere you can look yourself in the eye and speak at a normal volume without worrying about who might hear you.

First thing you do is just look yourself in the eye, and hold that eye contact for a little while. Believe me, it’s harder than you think! And once you spend a little time connected with yourself, tell yourself *out loud* that you forgive yourself. Admit your mistakes, and say out loud what you learned from them. Tell yourself how beautiful you are, how strong, how wonderful, and brilliant you are. Say all the things to yourself you wish someone else would say. Give yourself the validation that you wish would come from someone else.

And I’ll tell you a big secret: Words only have what power over you that you give them. And I can prove that words have no power in and of themselves: No matter what someone said in the past that hurt you, what if a crazy person in the street said the exact same thing…would it have bothered you? Of course not; so why do you let what anyone else says bother you, either? In the end, how much you love yourself will set the limit of how much love you can give OR accept, and this time with yourself will just make you more available and present to the important people in your life.

Yes, I’m serious…I do this daily, and if you do this it will change your life; I promise you that. If it’s tough to do or seems silly, that will show you just how hard you’ve been on yourself up until now, so add that to the list of things to forgive!

For more from B. Dave Walters, visit his blog A Reason to Smile

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