How to deal with pain and regret from your past

By John Brant | 25th June 2015
The word forgive is photographed on a piece of paper, held in the palm of a hand

Most of us have had to deal with pain and regret as a result of events and things you wish had been different. Or maybe you have pain and regret from a time when someone hurt you, or when you experienced an injustice in the past. It is said that forgiveness is good for our souls and for our peace of mind. However, forgiveness is not that easy for all of us. This short article takes a look what might stop us being forgiving and explores how and why forgiveness can be so enlightening.

Many people say they cannot forgive someone for something they have done. If we understand that forgiveness is a way of letting go of our pain and hurt, then this seems illogical. So why do we sometimes want to hold onto the pain rather than let it go?

The real reason we find it so hard to forgive is because we don’t want to face our pain and hurt. It is important to understand that when we believe that our pain and hurt is caused by others we believe we have no control over it. If we believe we have no control, we feel stuck and do not want to face it. Then the best we can do is to avoid the pain by

  • cutting people out of our lives or
  • deflecting the pain by focusing blame onto others

However, the pain remains – albeit sometimes hidden in our unconscious minds – and it carries a heaviness which is destructive to our wellbeing. In reality, stepping up and facing our pain is where our freedom is hidden – because if we can find the courage to face it we can actually let it go forever.

It is possible to be motivated to forgive when we’ve had enough of the pain or can’t see the point of holding a grudge. However, forgiveness is easiest when there is some sort of reconciliation.

There are two possible ways for reconciliation to happen; direct or indirect. The direct route is to reconcile face to face with the person you want to forgive. This is usually is the most effective way to let go of the pain although of course it carries with it the greatest risk. It is possible that the person you want to forgive isn’t ready to face their pain and so pushes you away. This type of reconciliation takes courage and openness (particularly about feelings) to work.

However, there is another way! When we are able to face our pain, something curious happens. We can see that the pain is ours and we can actually do have control over it. The key is to understand that when we are forgiving someone we are really forgiving part of our selves. The other part of ourselves is a projection of the other person.
We can get reconciliation with the past if we can get reconciliation with our projection of the person. There are some visualizations you can do in your mind’s eye (with your eyes closed) that can really help. It’s important to find somewhere comfortable and quiet, somewhere where you won’t be disturbed, for trying out these type of visualizations.

One visualization we find really helpful is to imagine (in your mind’s eye) the other person standing in front of you. Then imagine telling the other person that you forgive them, and ask them do they forgive you? It’s important to see that you can get forgiveness both ways – remembering that really you are only forgiving part of yourself. Take your time with this and notice what feelings come up for you.

Then ask what resources you each need to be able to forgive. Maybe there needs to be more understanding, more patience or something else. Then go ahead and think of a metaphor or symbol for that resource or those resources (for example, if the resource is love then maybe a picture of a heart could be your symbol). Finally go ahead and offer that symbol to the picture of you and to the picture of the other person in your mind’s eye. Allow this symbol to be accepted by both of you and then allow the symbol to merge and integrate with the both of you in whatever way seems appropriate.

Finally imagine the energetic connections between you and the other person. Fill your body full of a healing, beautiful white light and then send this loving and forgiving light through the energetic connections to the other person. Let the other person do the same by sending this light through the energetic connections to you. Finally allow the two of you to come together and embrace, both of you full of this healing white light. Allow each of you to forgive each other.

Once we understand more about forgiveness it’s easy to see how it can be a great way to release the seriousness of life – as it’s a process where there truly is nothing to lose. Have fun experimenting with this visualisation and as always we love to hear how you get on.

Headshot of John Brant - Retreat Founder at La Crisalida Retreats
John Brant

John is one of the founders of La Crisalida Retreats. He leads our life makeover programme as well as overseeing the retreats.

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