We all do it. Someone just grinds our gears or catches us on the wrong day, and we can’t stop thinking about it. Sometimes we can’t get it out of our minds for days or even years. But here’s the thing: holding a grudge is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Learning to forgive someone, especially if it’s a grudge you’ve been holding on to for a long time, will be a process. This 30 challenge is designed to help you move on and let go once and for all, one day at a time.
Phase 1: Let It All Out (Days 1-10)
When you keep something bottled inside you, it’s easy to convince yourself that everything is okay because there is no physical proof of it. The first part of this challenge is all about being honest to yourself and finding out how much you’ve really kept inside all this time.
Day 1: Buy a notebook and find somewhere safe to keep it. This notebook will become the physical manifestation of everything you’ve been holding in. It will be very personal and essential to your journey. You can do a digital notebook if you’d like. Either way, be careful about where you store and access it. Over the next few days, you’re going to allow yourself to become vulnerable by letting it all out, and it should really be for your eyes only.
Day 2: Time to slowly start letting it all out on paper in the notebook. Someone still has you fuming even though it’s been weeks? Or maybe something said something that rubbed you the wrong way just a few days ago? Write their names in your notebook. Tuck your notebook in its safe spot for now.
Day 3: Let’s spill the tea. Start by writing a letter to each person on your list from day 2. Include everything you wish you could have said the day the incident occurred and everything you wish you could say to them right now.
Day 4: If you haven’t finished the letters in day 3, keep going. It is important to let it all out. If you did finish, take the day to clear your head. Indulge in some self-care. Revisiting certain memories can be painful, and that’s perfectly okay. You’re entitled to your feelings.
Day 5: With a clear mind, read over your letters. When you wrote them, you might have been fueled with emotion, and you might not have meant everything you said. If that is the case, make those changes to those letters. Don’t worry. They won’t be sent.
Day 6: For every person you wrote a letter to, think about your relationship with them and what it means to you. Is your connection nonexistent? Or has it just weakened? Most importantly, what would it mean to you if the relationship disappeared?
Day 7: Go over each letter and think about what kind of advice you would give a close friend in that same situation. This will help you prepare for days 11-20.
Day 8: Find somewhere safe to keep your notebook for the rest of the challenge. You won’t need to pick it up again for a while.
Day 9: Go do something physical. Sometimes words can’t express the anger and hurt you feel. Go to the top of a mountain and scream, or go to a gym and do some boxing. Get that last bit of negative energy out by physically doing something. Just make sure it’s legal and safe.
Day 10: Take a break. Don’t look at the notebook. Don’t touch the notebook. Don’t even think about the notebook. You’re going to need to save up your energy for the next phase of this challenge. This is where things start to get tough.
Phase 2: Change What You Can (Days 11-20)
I’m willing to bet that even though you might have felt like you were extremely betrayed and hurt in the past, you are still in contact with the people responsible for making you feel that way. Hell, they might still be a crucial part of your life today. If that’s the case, you shouldn’t let the little voice inside your head constantly remind you of the past. Now is the time to start working towards forgiveness by changing what you can.
Day 11: Pick up the notebook with a clear, level-headed mind and go through it. Which of these relationships should be mended? What incidents need to be addressed before you move on? Keep note of those people.
Day 12: Go over your list of people you want to take action with and answer these questions: Why do you want to talk to them? What do you hope to get out of talking things through? Are you ready to do this no matter what the outcome might be? As you’re answering these questions, remember to take responsibility for your own actions. It takes two people to have an argument, and to really mend relationships, you have to acknowledge your role in everything too.
Day 13: Prepare yourself. Think back to the advice you thought of in day 7. Some things will be resolved, and all is well. Other conversations might unexpectedly take a turn for the worst. Tomorrow is when it all starts.
Day 14: Start reaching out to the people you flagged on day 11 and let them know you want to settle things. Really focus on the people you want to fix relationships with first. Set coffee or lunch dates for the near future — tomorrow, if possible. Go through your list of people over the next few days. If there are people you can’t meet in person, consider setting up a time to talk over the phone rather than clearing the air through messages.
Day 15: Go through the rest of your list. Are there people just not worth trying to make amends with? Whether bridges have been burned and you have no way to contact them or meeting with them will put you in a dangerous situation, keep note of who these people are. We will address them in days 21-30.
Day 16-19: Meet and speak with the people you’ve set up dates with. Keep in mind the advice you thought of in day 7. Focus on clearing the air and seeing each other’s side of things. It’s not about who was right or wrong as much as it is understanding why things happened the way they did. How the conversation goes will determine your next steps with each person, and it’s up to you to keep note of that and follow up.
Day 20: Take a day to focus on gratitude, especially the relationships that are on the right track to getting stronger and the grudges that have been resolved.
Phase 3: Make Peace With What You Can’t Change (Days 21-30)
By now, you should have an idea of what relationships can be mended and what can’t. Unfortunately, that’s just the way life goes, but to truly heal, we need to make peace with what we can’t change.
Day 21: Take the day to grieve in your own way, whether it’s sitting down and shedding some tears or binge watching your favorite series alone in your room. When you can’t change something, that means you’ve lost something. Maybe it was a friendship or they way a relationship used to be. No matter what it is, something changed, and it’s okay to let it out.
Day 22: With a hopefully clearer mind, it’s time to think about where you stand with the things you can’t change. Do you want to keep the lines of contact open with these people, or is it time to close that chapter in your life with them? Really think about the next steps you want to take with what you can’t change.
Day 23: For the past few weeks, you’ve allowed yourself to become vulnerable. Now it’s the time to recollect yourself. You’ve done your part by reaching out and being candid about the events you held a grudge over. It’s time for you to act on the decisions you made in day 22.
Day 24: Sometimes, it’s not about the relationship with someone as much as it is about the event that happened. We can’t change the past, but we can change how it affects us. Making peace with what you can’t change might mean asking for help. This could be opening up to a close friend who you’ve kept these events from or talking to a professional.
Day 25: Prepare to face the things you can’t change when you least expect it. You might see that person at the store or a song might remind you of the event. Whatever it is, be prepared for when that time might come by reminding yourself that everything happened this way for a reason. Stand strong with your decisions because the stronger you are each time you face hardship, the easier it is to move on.
Day 26: Learn to cultivate gratitude and see these challenges as lessons and not punishments. Gratitude helps us to forgive ourselves and others by reminding us that there is good in life and we are deserving of it.
Day 27: When one door closes, another one opens. Even when things don’t turn out the way you thought it would, there is always a way to turn things around. This could mean an opportunity to reconnect with old friends or meeting someone new. Look for those possibilities and go for it.
Day 28: Learn to let go of responsibility. You might feel guilty about how things turned out. Don’t. You can’t control other people’s happiness, only your own. This is important to remember if you want to move on because you will feel tied to the grudge in a different way: guilt.
Day 29: Take a day to reconnect with your present self by taking yourself out on a date. Do something you love that you don’t often get to do. The last four weeks was all about reconciling with the past. Every single day in the challenge was all about setting the foundation for the present and looking to the future. You are so strong for making it this far.
Day 30: Remember that notebook from day 1? It’s time to burn it. This might seem silly or childish at first, but it’s symbolic to the journey you’ve been on over the last 30 days. The notebook is everything that has been eating at you for days, weeks, or maybe even years. The fire is the change that you’ve gone through, the energy that has gone into fighting your inner demons. And the ash? It’s the remnants of the grudges that, like the ash, will fade into nothing and remain in the past where it belongs. You did it. It’s time to move on.