“Therapeutic forgiveness cuts out, eradicates, cancels, and makes the wrong as if it has never been. Therapeutic forgiveness is like surgery.”
—DR. MAXWELL MALTZ, Psycho-Cybernetics

Most of us carry an incredible amount of emotional baggage from the past: failure to reach our goals, failed relationships, infidelity, and out-of-date beliefs of all kinds. The reasons for holding on to old resentments fill volumes.

We are born with 100 percent of our creative potential. If 10 percent, 40 percent, or 80 percent of our creative energy is taken up with baggage, we are using up energy that could be put to better use.


A man is walking along the edge of a cliff. He stumbles and falls, tumbling into nothingness. In a panic, he reaches out and grabs a branch. Holding on with all his strength, he looks around. There are no other branches, nor is there a ledge on which to secure a leg hold. Realizing he is about to die, he begins to pray in earnest. ‘‘Please, God, are you there?’’ A loud voice booms from the heavens. ‘‘You called?’’ ‘‘Oh, yes,’’ shouts the man. ‘‘God, is that really you?’’ ‘‘Yes,’’ God replies. ‘‘It’s really me. What do you want?’’ ‘‘Please, please save me! I will do anything you ask if you just save me! I beg you!’’ ‘‘Anything?’’ God asks. ‘‘Really?’’ ‘‘Oh, really, really! Anything!’’ the man yells. God’s voice is sure and strong. ‘‘Let go of that branch.’’ Looking up to the heavens in bewilderment, the man cries, ‘‘Are you crazy?’’

What you are challenged to let go of is often the very thing that defines who and what you are: your ego. Or perhaps your present level of discomfort has become so familiar that it is more comfortable than the unknown. You can become so used to pain that the thought of letting go of it seems worse than the pain itself.

“The truest joys they seldom prove, Who free from quarrels live: ’Tis the most tender part of love, Each other to forgive.” —JOHN SHEFFIELD, poet and duke of Buckingham/Normandy

1. Identify Your Baggage.
Make a list of your hurts and resentments, including those caused by past lovers, family, co-workers, business associates, and childhood friends. Write them down in your journal or notebook.

2. Visualize the Source.
Close your eyes and imagine the person you hold the most anger and resentment toward sitting across from you. Tell her or him why you felt hurt. Be honest and express everything you feel needs to be said, everything that has been held back. Ask questions.

3. Hear the Explanation.
Listen to what the person says. Allow yourself to hear the full truth of what he or she tells you. Stop for a moment and notice if you have left anything unsaid. If so, express it and once again fully listen to his or her response.

4. Let Go.
Gently release the weight of your resentment toward the other person or toward yourself. In whatever way feels right to you, release the negative emotional energy that has, up to this point, been stuck. As you let go and release your anger, bitterness, or guilt, notice how you begin to lighten up. Take a deep breath and fully experience the release. You have experienced the magic of forgiveness.

You can use the same exercise to experience self-forgiveness. The more you use it, the lighter and clearer you will feel. The results are magical.