I was deeply offended by my brother and his wife, and I’ve been carrying this anger for years. The things they did and said to me are really awful and so judgmental. Every time I think about them I feel hurt all over again. They have caused so much unhappiness in my life, how can I let that go?
The most important thing you must do, if you want to feel better and stop hurting, is to take responsibility for how you are feeling. As long as you see “them” as the cause of your misery, you will remain a victim, powerless to change anything; but if you step up and own that no one can make you miserable, because you ultimately have the power to choose how you are going to feel, you could take your power back.
Your subconscious ego programming likes to blame others for your unhappiness, to protect you from seeing your own faults, but that doesn't make the blame true. The truth is, no one can make you miserable without your participation and willingness to go there.
This means you are going to have to do some work on you if you want to suffer less. Or you can continue to suffer forever if you want to, but those are your only two options. You must understand changing, healing and forgiving are a choice. Some people make that choice quickly right after an offense and suffer for only a short time; others hang onto misery and choose to suffer for a long time.
It is interesting that most people heal faster if an offense involves a stranger than when it involves a close relative. It appears the closer the relationship, the deeper the wound, even if the offense is exactly the same. This means we give the people closest to us more power to hurt us. You give your power away when you let other people have control over how you feel, even people you love.
Your self-esteem also determines how much pain an offense can causes. If you have low self-esteem and someone criticizes you, it will cause a deeper wound than if you had good self-esteem. But you always have the power to consciously choose to see an offense as a deep wound or a scratch.
Buddha taught whenever someone offends you, you must decide right then if it is going to be a cut through water, which heals immediately, a cut through sand, which will be gone by tomorrow, or a cut through stone, which could be there for decades. You are in charge of how much and for how long you suffer.
Whenever you get offended your subconscious mind quickly creates a story around the offense and that story determines the amount and length of your misery. You may want to write down the story you have created about this offense with your brother. Then ask yourself the following questions:
If you saw it this offense this way, you might be able to see the hidden gift in the experience. There always is something positive that every negative experience creates. Some experiences make you stronger, wiser or more loving, or they give you empathy and compassion for other people or yourself. The fastest way to change how you feel about an offense is to look at it as a perfect lesson in your classroom journey.
It is time to set down the burden of this offense and focus on the good in your world and choose love. Choose to see people accurately as struggling students doing the best they can with what they need. Choose to let your relatives be a work in progress and imperfect, just like you. Choose to see their value as unaffected by their mistakes and their value as the same as yours. When you do this, you will subconsciously see your own mistakes as not affecting your value either and your own self-esteem will grow.
We believe you get what you give in the world. When you criticize and judge others, you are giving power to the idea that people can be “not good enough” and this will, in the end, make you feel not enough too.
If you choose to forgive and let everyone have infinite value and you see everyone as the same as you, you will feel your own worth is unchanging too and you will have good self-esteem. How do you want to live?
If you are holding onto anger thinking it is protecting you from future offenses, it isn’t. It is creating pain, fear and low self-esteem. It is time to be in charge of your inner state and not give other people the power to make you suffer.
Whatever the offense was, it was just words or deeds and they have no power or meaning unless you give power to them. Decide thoughts or words can’t do anything to you, they can’t diminish your value, they can’t take from your life journey (if you believe your journey is always your perfect classroom) and they can’t make you less than who you are. All they can do is facilitate lessons to help you grow. See them this way and let others go in peace with your blessing and good wishes. I promise this will make you feel stronger, wiser and better.
You can do this.
Kimberly Giles is the president of 12shapes.com and co-host of Relationship Radio on Voice America. You can go to her website to get free resources and take the 12 shapes survey.
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.