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5 Tips to Forgive Instead of Letting Anger Control Your Life

Forgive

“If you let go a little, you will have a little peace. If you let go a lot, you will have a lot of peace.” ~Ajahn Chah

I made it my New Year’s resolution to forgive someone for his past actions. Unfortunately, the person I forgave is not here to know.

My dad passed away last September from cancer. There are times I miss him a lot; other times it’s nice to have peace in my life.

We never got along. My mother and others told me it was because we were too much alike, but I knew that was not the case.

That’s just something outsiders say when trying to simplify your relationship.

Besides being extremely difficult to get along with, I knew at an early age that my dad was having extramarital affairs. I am very close with my mom, so I took it personally. I was not going to let anyone hurt my best friend.

My dad denied everything, but that didn’t release these feelings that I had inside since I was a child.

In August 2010, my father was diagnosed with head and neck cancer. The first eight to nine months of his sickness he was self-sufficient, but in June 2011 he had to get a major surgery that left him totally dependent on his family.

Since my mom worked full-time, that left me to care for him. I knew I could put our past behind us during this time, but he couldn’t.

My father didn’t want my help and got increasingly mad at me throughout that summer. He yelled at me for everything; he threw glass at me; he treated me like garbage when all I wanted to do was help.

It took me time, but I realized not everyone wants help.

Before his death he wrote me a letter. At this time he was very ill with cancer, so the letter didn’t make sense. However, I still believed there were some truths in there. He told me he was very disappointed in me, which felt like a dagger in my heart.

I wanted to curl up in a ball and never come out.

After his death in September 2011, I looked through his camera to look at all the old pictures he never got developed. That is when I found pictures of him with another woman. I tried to contact that woman, but she would not answer my calls or emails.

I was so hurt and angry that I started becoming a cynical person. I thought everyone was out to betray me.

It took me some time, but I learned it was because my past was affecting my present and I couldn’t let go of it. It was consuming my every thought, my every breath.

I hated what he did, and I hated that woman. Except those emotions didn’t help me. I had to learn to move forward and forgive. It was not easy because not only was my father a cheater, he also was never that nice to me.

However, I knew forgiving him meant freedom for me. I felt for what I went through, I deserved to feel at peace.

These are some of the realizations that helped me come to this point:

1. Take time to make your forgiveness real and meaningful.

Did you every hear people say, “You have to forgive her!” or “Forgive him right now!”? Well, anyone can just say they forgive someone, but it takes time to actually move forward and truly forgive. Don’t let a person force you into forgiving someone before you’ve worked through your feelings, because it would lead to an empty forgiveness and not something that is true.

2. Meditate.

This is extremely important because it is so easy to get caught up in emotions when there is so much extra chatter or other influences. When you meditate, you are at one with your emotions in a quiet atmosphere. During meditation, I learn more about my needs and myself, and it constantly helps me grow as a person.

3. Write down your emotions and then release them.

Sometimes it’s hard to realize what upsets you. Is it because she said this? Or because her actions made you feel bad? Writing down your thoughts help you better understand your feelings. After I do this, I like to go outside and burn the paper. It feels therapeutic to watch something that hurt you disintegrate into little ashes.

4. Instead of focusing on how someone else hurt you, focus on how your actions affect others.

When I was dealing with these issues, I was not an easy person to be around. I spent too much time focusing on someone and something that I could do nothing about instead of focusing on the good and peaceful relationships in my life. When I realized how I was treating my loved ones, it made me want to forgive the person who hurt me. I deserved that peace, and so did my friends and family.

5. Strive to live in the present.

This is the hardest thing to do. Especially now with the Internet and a fast-paced life, so many of us are multi-tasking, thinking of our next assignment before we finish with the one we are currently doing. By always thinking of tomorrow, we are losing today. The same goes for living in the past. If you let your past define you, you will never grow.

Through all the pain and the heartache I went through for 24 years of my life, I finally feel at peace. I think the best thing I ever did was forgive my father because it let me grow as a person and focus on all the wonderful people and things in my life.

I also have to thank my dad because he gave me this amazing life to live, taught me many valuable lessons, and showed me how strong I truly am.

Who do you need to forgive, and can you start doing the work today?

Photo by Lel4nd

Avatar of Aly Caracciolo

About Aly Caracciolo

Aly Caracciolo is currently working on her master degree in English Education at Molloy College. She is learning everyday to show love and compassion to all and create a better environment.

Announcement: Wish you could change your past? Learn to let go and create a life you love with the Tiny Buddha course!
  • Dolcevita

    Wow you’re brave! And you have peace now, which you appreciate so much because you earned it :-) This is a very inspiring piece to me because it shows how our ‘enemies’ (I hope you won’t mind that term) have so much to teach us if we’re brave enough to go there. And you were – GO YOU! Love and light,

  • friend forever

    A very inspiring piece Aly. I have one such person in my life too. Besides hurting me sometimes, she also hurts my mother and sister. But, yes, I do see that I can learn a lot through her. For once, I can learn how strong like i am, stretch beyond my comfort zone, and know how to deal with similar people, should they ever come in my life. It’s also a good way to see how much love we have. As a favorite quote of mine goes ‘To love means loving the unlovable. To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable. Faith means believing the unbelievable. Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.’

    All the best to yo. Thank you for sharing!

  • http://www.thedallemagnes.info Angel

    As someone who had a very painful childhood, I carried around a lot of anger at my parents and siblings. It took me a long time to come to terms with it, I was 30 before I learned to let go of what I couldn’t change, and realize that It wasn’t healthy for me to hold on to it. The hardest of it all was forgiving myself for holding it all over my own head for so long.

    Anyway thank you for sharing this as it’s still nice to have a reminder of how it’s healthy to put things behind you and move forward.

  • Sufian Chaudhary

    This is a really well written article that explores some of the deeper aspects of relationships we hold with family and friends but don’t really get to see that far. Forgiveness may be one of the hardest aspects in Life to overcome, especially when it comes to family, as we are born surrounded by a group of people and we expect them to always be there for our greatest good. You did a really good job getting through that emotional hurdle of forgiving your father, and I bet it felt absolutely extraordinary when those burdens were finally released! Family ties go so very deep and sometimes we have to completely uproot who we are and what we are doing here to finally embrace the notion of forgiveness. In the end of the day we will achieve a sense of freedom, and if nothing else, this is worth the effort of learning how to forgive. Thank you for sharing your story :)

  • tfranko

    Very nice post, thank you.

  • dawn

    There’s a book called, “How Can I Forgive You?: The Courage to Forgive, the Freedom Not To,” that I found to be quite enlightening. Sometimes it’s more a matter of acceptance rather than forgiveness that will heal you and it’s something you have to do for yourself. And more importantly, it emphasizes that just because you reach this point of forgiveness/acceptance doesn’t mean you’re saying what was done to you was “OK,” you’re not forgiving the actions. Rather, you’re accepting what happened and allowing yourself to let go for your own benefit. I highly recommend this book to anyone struggling with betrayal of any type — especially when the person that hurt them hasn’t apologized.

  • Dave

    Well written and expressed. Thanks for sharing something so heartfelt and personal. I’m sure that your post will help many others.

  • http://www.facebook.com/acrane7 Andrew Crane

    Amazing article. Thank you for inspiration on moving forward and forgiving. Your idea to write down your feelings then burn it, is a great release. I will use this in the future to help deal with things I may need to get out of my head. Keep up the amazing writing!

  • Sally

    I agree with you. I think it is very important to at least try to ACCEPT what happened, if you can’t yet get to the point of forgiving….

  • Bobbie

    Agree! Accepting is key. and the first step to forgiving

  • Aly Caracciolo

    Hi Dawn,

    Thank you for your comment & your book suggestion. I will be sure to check it out on my next trip to B&N!

    ~Aly

  • Aly Caracciolo

    Hi Sally,

    Thank you for your comment! Yes, acceptance is key with any difficult issue we deal with.

    ~Aly

  • Aly Caracciolo

    Bobbie,

    Thank you for your comment!

    ~Aly

  • Aly Caracciolo

    Hi Andrew,

    Thank you for your comment! The burning method definitely helps!

    ~Aly

  • Aly Caracciolo

    Hi Dave,

    Thank you for your kind comments! Very appreciated :)

    ~Aly

  • Aly Caracciolo

    Thank you :)

    ~Aly

  • Aly Caracciolo

    Hi Sufian,

    Thank you for your very kind comments. Forgiveness is definitely one of the hardest things human beings have to learn. Once it is achieved, the good totally outweighs the bad. However, it is a decision you can only make with yourself.

    Cheers,
    Aly

  • Aly Caracciolo

    Hi Angel,

    Thank you for your very kind comments. As someone who also went through a difficult childhood, it makes it hard to grow as an individual in your adult life when your past is still defining you. I’m glad you learned how to let go and move on to a happier life.

    Cheers,
    Aly

  • Aly Caracciolo

    Thank you for your kind comments. It is very much appreciated. I am so sorry you are going through a difficult situation. If I can be of any help, please let me know. There are also so many resources you can connect with. I hope your mother, sister, and you can find peace. I never heard that quote before but I do love it too!

    Cheers,
    Aly

  • Aly Caracciolo

    Thank you, Dolcevita, for your very kind comments! I do agree that those that hurt us are our best teachers in difficult situations.

    Cheers,
    Aly

  • jaykay

    i want to let go and forgive my ex girl friend , who become a bitch .. and cheated me

  • Mina

    Truly amazing post. It gets so complicating when one tries to move on from a bad past , onto a greater future.

  • Kristi – mindfuldiary.com

    I’ve found through personal experience that the key to forgiveness is understanding. Simply put, walk in that persons shoes for a day. Once we walk in other person’s shoes, understanding comes, followed by forgiveness. Not always right away, but it will come.

  • Cherry

    I want to forgive my ex for shunning me when I told him I was pregnant because he didn’t want to jeopadize his relationship with his current girlfriend. I had to go through the horrible experience of deciding to have an abortion alone. I feel so much anger at him. I feel trapped in a cycle of depression. I want to forgive him and wish him happiness but I can’t seem to do it.

  • Dyana Haynes

    I want to forgive myself …for many many things

  • PK

    I really want to forgive someone
    as it is making me fall into total depression….but how can you forgive
    someone who is constantly criticizing you, hating you, after your each move
    saying it’s not good, taunting you. After all that I did to them – first of all
    they are completely thankless and then took wrong meaning of whatever I said or
    did and made me feel a worst person ever….In response I never said
    anything, I kept all my anger inside (I know it is wrong) which is natural when
    you are so so so deeply hurt….How to forgive someone when they are nothing
    but pure evil to you? Someone who want nothing but my destruction? Someone who
    completely hates me? But I cannot say anything or do to them as that will cause
    more sour relationship. I can only keep everything in my heart because these
    are the people who forgets what they did to me but will constantly churn a
    single bad move from me…when it comes to them every small thing is a big deal
    as if hell is falling on earth but whatever I am going through is piece of
    cake….I really want to be that god like who can forgive such evil ignorant
    non-spiritual soul who unfortunately thinks they are the best spiritual people
    on earth….but I am still not able to forgive as this is a daily nagging from
    them…all I have to do is ignore as if nothing wrong which is killing me
    inside…..

  • NLC

    Your story touched me, I too had in rough with a father who had numerous affairs whilst my loyal mother waited at home. There was a time that I discovered one and told my mom and my dad called me a liar (he later divorced my mom and married the lady). Well I did not realize what a negative effect it had on my ability to forgive until I got married. I have an innate lack of trust and forgive my husband who loves me for relatively minor issues. It has cause major issues in my marriage and I am trying to Lear how to forgive. Your article made me cry and really helped me understand some things about how I’ve been thinking and how I can possibly change. Thank you.

  • http://www.aces-counseling.com/ DUI evaluation

    There is this concept in psychology where we are taught not to hate on the person who does wrong but on the action he did. It may sound absurd but I guess it actually means something, that a person is not solely defined by his/her actions and behaviors. It is like saying, mistakes are part of our being human, and in this case it becomes easier to forgive. We may not forget, but at least we should forgive! Thank you for this post.

  • Aonva

    That is a really stong brave piece of writing Aly, i think reading between the lines your father was dealing with his own demons and maybe he found it hard to accept help because maybe he felt he did not deserve it. And you did not feed into the negitive by treating him the way he expected so you forced him to take a look at himself.
    He was angry with himself but spent so much time in denial even in the face of death he could not face it.
    If you can move on and learn from the bad experiences your a success in my opinion. it takes great strenght of character to forgive and huge effort. I bet your mum is extremely pround of you. I know I would be if you were my child.

  • Guest

    I want to let go of resentment and anger I have towards a lot of people in my life. Family and ex friends that I have fallen out with. We all live in the same small town and it kills me to see my old group of friends especially one person all moving on together while I’m not letting go

  • Jason Holborn

    Hi there. This piece resonated with me and I wanted to reach out and possibly offer some help. i actually tried to locate a weblog or site of yours to contact you privately, however I can only find this forum.

    “I was so hurt and angry that I started becoming a cynical person. I thought everyone was out to betray me.”

    is it possible that your mom may have been righter than you thought…. that you and your dad, ultimately, were similar? Our parents never had the kind of access to self-help and improvement that we are today surrounded by. Your dad sounds hurt and angry and cynical, as if he felt everyone was out to betray him.

    I suggest this as I often find that understanding where a person’s hurtful (to me) actions were or are coming from can be a good step towards forgiving.

    Well, thanks for your story and sharing. :-)