Complete the Past
This next article is part of an ongoing series here at TSB Magazine called The Success Principles. The series is based on the 64 principles laid out by Jack Canfield in his course of the same name. If youre new, I always suggest starting any series from the beginning.
Principle 29: Complete the Past to Embrace the Future
The next principle is somewhat of a continuation of the last principle called Clean up Your Messes. In that lesson we talked about the need to complete unfinished tasks or throwaway and unwanted clutter. The idea of cleaning up your mess allows you to breathe more comfortable in the present. But it is only half of the step.
The next part of cleaning up your mess involves completing your past. Too many people are weighed down by past regrets, mistakes, grudges, and hurts. These feelings act as anchors throughout our lives, never allowing us to break completely free to embrace the future.
Canfield gives a method called The Total Truth Letter that acts as a tool to help you release negative emotions from the past and come back to your natural state of love and joy in the present.
Most people never express their complete and true feelings to the person that they are upset with. They then proceed to get stuck in that state of anger, pain, or frustration… never able to move past it to emotional completion. Canfield’s Total Truth Letter can help you express your true feelings, allowing you get back to your natural state of inner peace.
The process is not intended to let you dump your negative emotions on another, but to allow you to move through the negative emotion and release them.
Follow these steps when writing a Total Truth Letter:
1. Write a letter to the person who has upset you, with roughly equal portions of the letter expressing each of these feelings: anger and resentment, hurt, fear, regrets, wants, forgiveness, and appreciation.
2. If the other party is not someone who is likely to agree to cooperate with this process, you may simply choose to throw the letter away once you have completed it. Remember, the main purpose here is to get you free from the unexpressed emotions, not to change the other person.
3. If the person you are upset with is willing to participate, have him or her write a total truth letter to you, too. Then exchange letters. Both of you should be present when your read the letters. Then discuss the experience. Avoid trying to defend your position. Make an effort to understand where the other person is coming from.
I actually really like the idea of writing the letter and getting all of your deep hidden emotions out on paper. I personally couldn’t see myself sharing the letter with the other person, but I think it would be a great release just to unburden myself from the feelings. Think about all of the wasted time and energy you spend having imaginary conversations in your mind with someone who hurt you. I know I’ve wasted many hours at work in mental arguments that never took place in the real world. These things need to be released to make room for the future.
Forgive and move on
In order to truly complete the past you need to forgive anyone that has wronged you. You need to release that chain they have around you emotionally.
Many people assume that when I say forgive the other person it means you have to befriend them. That isn’t the case… you just have to mentally no longer care. You may still choose not to spend time with the person… but you release your anger towards them.
I can tell you it is liberating you forgive. in one of our Success Principle Review posts I gave a 3 day exercise on forgiveness…. if you didn’t try it yet, give it a shot.
3 Day Exercise: For the next 3 days make a conscious effort to forgive yourself and everyone youve held a grudge against at least 3 times a day. Once in the morning, once in the afternoon, and once at night say I forgive myself for my past mistakes, I didnt know any better at the time. Ive seen the error of my ways and have moved on. And then forgive others by saying I forgive [insert name] for blah blah blah it was all they knew at the time. I give myself permission to move on.
You will be amazed at the weight you feel lifted off your shoulders. It is important that you say this with conviction and emotion. The first time I did this I honestly started to cry, as I realized how much built up aggression I had towards myself for my lack of social skills in high school. I also was able to finally forgive a girlfriend who cheated on me.
About Bobby Rio I'm Bobby Rio, one of the founders of TSB. I tend to write about what is on my mind so you'll find a mix of self development, social dynamics and dating articles/experiences. For a collection of some of my favorite articles check them out.