How to forgive and let go

Sanjeev asks…

What is your view on forgiveness and letting go?
HOW do you do that?

© Chris Ford
© Chris Ford

If we have high vitality and feel happy and care-free, then we naturally “don’t care” — because we have no need or desire to control anything. We are automatically “letting go” all the time.

The ego mind — our mentally constructed sense of self, is always trying to control others and events, whereas the care-free mind is lacking nothing, and so there is no desire to control, and there is nothing to forgive.

This state is achieved through a lifestyle that’s conducive to health and peace of mind. In particular, meditation — listening / awareness, allows us to return to that natural state of “let go-ness”. 


You can also use logic: A truly happy person would never intentionally hurt anyone. So anyone who does something that’s (seemingly) requiring of forgiveness is simply displaying a symptom of “dis-ease,” unhappiness in whatever form. It’s a little cry for help. Or a big one, depending on what they’ve done!

This is an unfortunate but common side effect of the world we’re born into, which is not conducive to happiness. We live unnatural, indoor, sedentary lifestyles, eat unnatural foods and compete with each other for jobs, money and status, all the time mentally telling ourselves we’re being “successful” to some extent or other. Symptoms of unhappiness are incredibly common of course, so it’s easy to miss this. But the truth remains that anyone who mistreats you, or anyone else, is not truly happy.

To take an obvious example: imagine a close friend of yours has just lost a loved one. You call them the next day and they are unusually rude to you. Are you offended or do you understand that they’re in pain? Of course, it’s the latter. Well, all mistreatment is a symptom of “pain” in some form or other.


Perhaps the best description of forgiveness is: “Realizing that what you thought happened, didn’t.” In other words, you took something personally, you reacted, something in you got hit. Whereas in reality, that person was in “pain,” to stick with that general term, and so were you. What resulted was an ego drama.

But the problem was caused purely by thinking — by being identified with your mentally created sense of self, which is fragile and tries to defend itself, rather than seeing things how they really are.

So you can see that true forgiveness is impossible without this knowledge, without seeing it differently, how it really is. But once this is realized, then forgiveness, letting go, is natural. It’s like: “Aaaaah, THAT’S what really happened — my own ego got hurt and blamed the other.”

In the “let go” state, nothing is judged, everything is simply as it is, and we see that everything is cause and effect, people’s unhappiness and pain just playing out, in all its various forms. That doesn’t mean it’s any more pleasant to be around undesirable behavior of course, it just means that we don’t create a “self” about it.

So now when someone does something “unforgivable” and you respond by saying “Is everything ok?” you’ll know you’re seeing things as they really are.

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Michael Kinnaird is the author of Happy Guide, the result of a 20 year exploration into what works for health and happiness.

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9 thoughts on “How to forgive and let go

    1. Many thanks es. Forgiving yourself is the same as forgiving someone else. In the short term, you use logic to understand that all “negative” actions are a result of pain, of unhappiness in whatever form. You acted as you did because of the state you were in at the time, because of how you were seeing things, in that moment. This is simply a fact — it’s neither good or bad. It’s simply cause and effect so don’t judge yourself for it.

      In the long term, put the causes of happiness (health and peace of mind) in place, so that you see things how they really are, and feel good for no reason. Then, you realize that there’s nothing to forgive — because every negative action was a little cry for help. It was simply “where you were” at the time.


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