What's Holding You Back?

Valorie Burton is a bestselling author, speaker, and life coach dedicated
to helping you:

  • Be happier and have more fun, even when life seems routine.
  • Navigate setbacks or disappointments that make you better, not bitter.
  • Make a major life change that's exciting and scary at the same time.

The One Decision That Frees You to Forgive


We can’t be happy without our relationships. And it is inevitable in relationships that you eventually find yourself in a position that calls for forgiveness. I want you to think for a moment about a relationship in which you are struggling to forgive, and consider the words you’re reading right now to be written just for you.

Years ago, I found myself deeply hurt by someone close to me and absolutely stuck and unable to move on. There was one mental shift that transformed my ability to forgive in that situation and it is this:

I decided to stop taking the offense personally.

Now, I know what you might be thinking. “How can I not take something personally when the person intentionally did it to me?”  At least, that was my first question when a friend first suggested it. I brushed it off as unrealistic. Then she gave me a copy of what became one of my favorite books, The Four Agreements. One of the agreements was simply this: “Don’t take anything personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality…”

I didn’t really understand it at first, but I wanted to.  I wanted desperately to let go, to be able to forgive and move on.  So I prayed about it, I talked to friends about it, I journaled about it, and I finally started to get it:  What others choose to do, even if they try to do it to me, is really not about me.  It’s about them.  It’s about their emotional condition, their spiritual condition, their own hurt and pain.  It doesn’t excuse their behavior. It doesn’t make it OK.  But it does help explain that there is a reason for it. It explains that I cannot change them, and therefore, I must let go.

Whoever has hurt you, consider this: If you wait for them to apologize or feel remorse before you can let go of your grudge, move forward, or get your joy back, you might be waiting for the rest of your life.  Refuse to allow a person who hurt you to have that much power over you and your emotions.  Free yourself from being held hostage to how they choose to react or apologize before you are able to just be free.

It is definitely easier said than done, and I have to tell you, in the most difficult forgiveness scenario I ever faced, I wasn’t able to do it alone.  I literally prayed and said to God, “I can’t forgive this person, so I need you to change my heart because I don’t even know how.”  And miraculously, within a matter of about three weeks, my heart softened. I released them, and believe it or not, I even began to pray for them.  I recognized that they had some serious issues.  I would never be able to say anything to them that would fix those issues, but I could have mercy. I could set a very strong boundary to protect myself from more hurt.  Yet I didn’t need to feel a grudge, I didn’t need to seek revenge, I no longer needed to be angry.

The person who most needs the act of forgiveness is the forgiver, because it frees you.  You are no longer bound up in the toxic emotions of grudges and revenge.  Don’t take it personally.  Hurting people hurt people. It is what it is.  Take back control of your emotions, your peace and your joy.


My challenge to you this week:

Don’t take anything personally.


Journaling question:

Who do you need to forgive? What do you need to forgive them for? How would it feel to stop taking their offending actions personally? When are you willing to do that?


Leave your comments below. I’d love to hear from you!


Improve Your Relationship Instantly with Two Powerful Questions


What makes you feel loved and cared for by your spouse or significant other?  Maybe it’s a mid-day phone call to check in and see how you’re doing. Or surprising you with a little gift from your favorite store. Or helping you finish that household project you’ve been procrastinating on and just needed some encouragement to push you over the hump. Whatever the case, just thinking about what makes you feel cared for can make you feel good. It can also give you a really important piece of insight.

Often, we give our sweetheart what we want, but not what they want. And it’s easy not to notice when you’re missing the mark. In fact, you may put a great deal of effort into it and end up irritated because they just don’t seem to appreciate it the way you do. It can lead to a whole series of misunderstandings, and even resentment. But there is an easy fix. Ask them this question:

What is it that I do for you that makes you feel most loved, cared for and special in our relationship?

(If your relationship has been rocky lately, you might have to phrase it a little differently: What is it you wish I did more often to make you feel loved, cared for and special in our relationship?)

Ask the question and then listen. Don’t get defensive if the answer isn’t what you want to hear. Instead, listen with a loving ear and with the intention of giving your partner what they most want.  Listening is a powerful relationship tool. Acting on what we hear is even more powerful.


My challenge to you this week:

Ask your spouse or significant other what makes them feel loved and cared for. Then do it.


Journaling assignment:
What makes you feel loved and cared for? What makes your significant other feel loved and cared for? When will you do that for them? On an ongoing basis, what could you do to make it easier to be consistent about it?


Start Here, Start Now: 5 Minutes a Day to Love Better, Work Smarter, and Live Bolder


Leave your comments below. I’d love to hear from you!