"Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned." ~Buddha
We have all been hurt in our pasts, and we have also been the ones hurting others. Sometimes it happens on purpose, and sometimes it occurs unconsciously. Regardless of who does what and why, hurt exists and can cause us to store up all that anger and resentment. You may not notice it immediately, but over time it builds up like the junk that clogs up a drain. Before you know it you're stressed and don't know why.
When I find myself having those feelings, I like to take long walks alone and reflect on life. That precious "Me-time" helps me process some things going on in life. Other times I like to free-form journal, which is an amazing tool to coerce your subconscious to emerge. You may have been feeling confused and unable to pinpoint your thoughts, and then right in the middle of journaling, your exact sentiments pop out onto the page. That light bulb goes off and you think, "Ah, that's what I've been thinking and feeling all this time." It's quite a relief.
Once upon a time, I was having these types of feelings of pent up hurt and resentment. I thought if I held on to it really tightly, then I could protect myself from more hurt and I could build up a barrier between me and whomever hurt me. While I was going on one of my walks, it became apparent to me the amount of energy I was giving to holding on to this anger and keeping up this wall. I was exhausted just thinking about it, so right then and there I made a decision to release it.
"I choose not to harbor anger towards so-and-so because by holding on to it, I'm allowing that person to continue hurting me over time. I'm empowering that person with the energy that flows through me every day, energy that would be better put to use on someone else, like someone in need or someone who actually cares about me."
One-Two-Three, Exhale & Release. Then I was overcome with a huge sense of freedom from the burdens I'd been carrying for a long time. It was so liberating that I thought of more people I needed to release. Sometimes I have to release a person repeatedly if the hurt is deep enough.
After completing this catharsis, I realized, "Oh, that's what forgiveness is. That's why it's a decision and not a feeling. It was a hard realization to come to, but it's helped so much that I want to share it with you. Go on and release because you can!