While we always have the choice to look to the positive, we have to acknowledge that life is not always a bed of roses. Things don’t always turn out the way we hoped or imagined they should, even if we’ve done absolutely everything right. We get let down, badly hurt, by people we love dearly, and we thought would never hurt us. Quite naturally, we get angry. If we let the anger stew, it turns to bitterness and resentment, even to hatred if we permit it.

The feelings themselves are natural. They are honest emotional responses to situations and people that have not done what we expected, not lived up to our standard, or our image of them. But it’s when we let these feelings get out of control that they fester and become destructive. If acted upon, they can lead to violence. If not acted upon, they can eat away at our mental and emotional state like a cancer eats at healthy tissue.

These kind of responses and feelings occur daily for millions of people all around the world, and so often they are allowed to spiral out of control. Your spouse has an affair and leaves you. Your business partner steals all your money and disappears. Your parent, for some unexplainable reason, rejects you. A total stranger takes from you someone you love.

These kinds of common scenarios can put an end to any chance you have at happiness unless you know how to deal effectively with them. So what can be done when these sorts of things happen to ensure that you are not swallowed by your own negative feelings?

Well, the great news is that you have a choice. After the initial reaction of anger, shock or disbelief has eased slightly, you have the power to pause for a moment, take a few deep breaths and reflect on the situation, what it means to you, and how you will deal with it.

But what if you didn’t know you had that choice 20 years ago? What if for the last 20 years, you have been harbouring resentment, bitterness and anger for someone because of some perceived wrong they did you? What if you are so consumed by that rage that it has turned into hatred that literally colors all your thoughts and emotions, all your interactions with other people? What if it is ruining your life? How do you deal with that?

The answer is simple. You let go of the anger, bitterness and hatred, and you forgive that person for whatever wrong may have been committed. As I said, it’s a simple answer, but there is tremendous power in simplicity.

Now many people’s first reaction to this is to ask how can you possibly forgive someone who betrayed you, lied to you, crushed your feelings? How could you possibly forgive someone who abandoned you? Or worse, how could you ever forgive someone who murdered someone you love? You just can’t do that. You’re not living in the real world to think that you could or should forgive such awful acts.

That may be a very natural first reaction, but let me ask you this: what happens if you don’t forgive? Who gets hurt? Who feels the pain every hour of every day? Who constantly relives the nightmare of what happened? Whose happiness is ruined by the refusal to forgive? I think the answer is obvious.

You may be clinging to your hatred and anger like a life preserver, feeling that it is the only thing keeping you afloat. But when you forgive the people who have wronged you in your life, you set yourself free. You decide to no longer dwell on what was done to you, ask yourself why it was done or how the person could have done it. You free yourself from the pain, misery and anguish and you get on with your life in a positive way. And you no longer need that destructive life preserver.

A great way to help you forgive others is to sit down and write a letter to the person you’re having a difficult time forgiving. Detail the person’s misdeeds and describe to them exactly how it made you feel. Tell them that even though you have hated them for what they did, you have now chosen to forgive them so that you may be free of the pain that was caused. Don’t post the letter. There is no need to. The simple act of writing it will be the cathartic experience you need. It may be a difficult exercise for you, but it will certainly be worth it.

Author's Bio: 

Dante Petrilla has been studying the success literature for the past decade and used the techniques and skills he learned to turn his own life completely around. He transformed himself from a depressed person to a happy person once he learned to direct the focus of his thoughts and emotions. The one thing he found that made the techniques he learned so effective was the use positive affirmations to install them into everyday thinking. Dante is also a writer who enjoys writing in the personal development area.

Dante is also a memory training expert, and has written the book How to Memorize Anything with The Secret of Your Perfect Memory which is available on Amazon. He is also in the process of turning this into an audio book, which will be available in the near future.

Dante is an AUNLP certified life coach and NLP Master Practitioner, member of the American University of NLP, and also a Global Sciences Foundation member. He is now making a deeper study of NLP in order to implement what he has learned on his journey so that he might impart that knowledge and help others.