Bitterness can rear its ugly head for a variety of reasons, whether you still hold a grudge about a fallout between you and a friend, you had a bad break-up recently, or maybe you feel frustrated at yourself for previous failures. No matter the case, feeling bitter can seriously affect your mental health and even make you feel sick. The research continues to build regarding the importance of a healthy, positive mindset, so make sure to use these tips to leave bitterness behind you.

7 Ways to Put Bitterness Behind You:

1. Leave the past where it belongs.

Try not to rehash negative experiences or dwell on things you cannot change; instead, set your sights on the present moment and thank the past for all the invaluable lessons it taught you. Just because you had unfortunate experiences previously doesn’t mean that you will encounter these again – you just have to accept that your past served a purpose in your life, and turn the page to the next chapter in your story.

2. Forgive everyone who hurt you.

“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew that if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.” -Nelson Mandela

By holding on to past pain, you only perpetuate it in the present. You give it oxygen and a place to call home. If you want to keep the bitterness from leeching the energy from you, you must forgive those who caused the resentment in the first place. You don’t have to forget what happened, and you don’t have to accept these people back into your life. However, you must forgive their words and behavior if you desire a peaceful, drama-free life.

3. Focus on what you love about your life.

A surefire way to keep bitterness alive is to focus on everything you hate about life, but a guaranteed way to squash negativity is to redirect your attention to what you love. Where attention goes, energy flows, so thinking about stressful, undesirable experiences will only breed more of the same. If you want to leave your shadows in the dust, simply develop a more grateful attitude and get excited about life! Then, you’ll start seeing a major change in your life experiences and how you view your surroundings.

4. Don’t play the victim.

Bitterness often resides in those who blame things outside themselves for the occurrences in their lives. When you think people have wronged you or have caused you undue hardship in life, you start to become jaded about everyone you meet. You start to think everyone is out to get you when in reality, you could develop wonderful friendships with people by taking responsibility for your actions and emotions. You can create whatever life you choose and manifest whatever people you want into your life; it just depends on your attitude at the moment.

5. Put more effort into cultivating your passions.

If you feel bitter about failing in the past, it can never hurt to keep trying. Remember, you only fail when you give up, so staying persistent is the key to success. You can’t possibly remain angry about your life if you put in consistent effort and develop a headstrong attitude. Follow your passions in life, and use your ambition to launch you into a different reality. If you create a life you enjoy, you won’t feel tempted to revert back to your old thinking patterns.

6. Don’t ruminate on things you can’t change.

If you look at the world too long, you will probably notice the widespread chaos and destruction and become angry at those causing it. We could all sit around and complain about the broken economy, the deceitful government, the greedy corporations, and so on, but what good will that do? Complaining and fixating on things outside of our control will only leave us feeling desperate and weak while focusing our energy on what we can change makes us feel empowered and in control of our life. Change what you can, and let everything else run its course. All things will balance out in time because that is the nature of the universe.

7. Give more value to your life.

Maybe you feel bitter because you don’t feel you’re contributing enough to society. In that case, provide whatever you can to your immediate community. Give old clothing to the homeless, donate food to the local food bank, organize meet-ups to encourage people to make real-life connections, and support one another; lend whatever skills you have to make the world a better place. Bitterness can’t live in the presence of compassion and understanding, so if you feel angry, simply make someone else feel better. You, too, will start healing once you dedicate your life to adding more value to someone else’s.