Transforming Your Retirement: Forgiveness and Taking Responsibility

Without exception, people will disappoint us and hurt us. It’s impossible to avoid it. Holding onto anger and grudges because of that, however, is something we have control over. In the process of transforming your retirement into a joyous journey, you will find more freedom if you deal with this baggage. Maybe your anger goes back to childhood; maybe to yesterday. Regardless of the length of time, it is a negative pull from the past that can alter our potential future.

Perhaps you can identify and feel deep hurt and/or anger toward a parent or other person that goes back as far as childhood. Perhaps it is more recent. Whenever it was, you owe it to yourself to put it to rest. In some cases, seeking professional help would be most advantageous. Another option is to do some work yourself that can alleviate the damaging emotions. These steps can be used regardless of when the situation occurred.

First consider what you are gaining or what the ‘payoff’ is for you to hang onto this hurt or anger. This may require some deep thinking; so don’t rush through this first step. Here are a couple of possibilities; they may spur other thoughts. Perhaps someone else’s actions and the impact on you gives you a reason or excuse that things didn’t go as you wished for you after that. You may think, I would have done much better in my life if that hadn’t happened. Or perhaps you feel betrayed by someone for whom you gave so much. You may think, if I had given all I gave to you to someone else, my life would have been so much better. Find the ‘payoff’ for you.

Now ask yourself how you would feel if you could release your negative feelings related to this person or this situation?

And how would your relationship with (or memories of) this parent or other person change if you moved beyond these feelings? Take some time to imagine this.

Now make a choice: will you keep the benefits or ‘payoffs’ of hanging on or gain the benefits of forgiving and moving on?

A helpful way of choosing the benefits of forgiving and moving on is to write a letter to the person(s) involved. It may either be actually delivered or for your own use. The writing will be beneficial for you either way. Start out by describing the source of your anger and hurt. Be as specific as possible; get into the feelings and describe them. Then describe the impact that has had over the subsequent years. End with a statement something like, “I now choose to forgive you for that and forgive myself for not finding a way to resolve this earlier. I can’t change the past but I can choose to let it go and release the claim of that past situation on my future.”

If the person is alive and you feel it could be freeing to discuss this with them, do it. If you can’t or choose not to do this, either read it aloud as if you are speaking to that person. Claim that resolution and let go. Feel the freedom it provides as you continue the process of transforming your retirement into a joyous time of life.

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