Axe the Bad Stuff for Good


As the closing credits for The Wolf of Wall Street started to roll, I was left gobsmacked.

The three-hour movie about bad people doing bad stuff made me think about the real-life ‘victims’ whose innocent decisions fuelled the real-life baddies whose characters appear in this celluloid epic.

Yup – the paragraph you just read has as many layers as the movie.

The Wolf of Wall Street is based on the true story of a stockbroker – Jordan Belfort – who wilfully scammed billions of dollars from investors. Many of them were small-time depositors, like mums and dads.

Whether small or large, Belfort’s investors had one thing in common: they trusted him implicitly.

In return, Belfort and his stockbroking team repeatedly lied to and stole from them. What’s more, in the movie, Belfort did so with glee and contempt for his clients who by de facto funded his outrageous lifestyle.

Free yourself

When people do bad things to us, we can be pushed into victimhood. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about?

As victims we carry hurt, anger and grief – sometimes for a lifetime – for being wronged by another. We package our pain into a victim story that usually shows we were right and the other person was wrong.

Yet, there comes a time when we have to let go of the distressing emotions associated with the bad stuff, so we can move forward positively with our lives.

I’m not suggesting that we shrug off painful feelings when we experience bad stuff at the hands of others. Feelings are very real and represent situations that were hurtful and maybe even traumatic.

Letting go

Over the years I too have been betrayed and lied to by people I trusted. I’ve lost thousands to someone who never returned the money I loaned; had a precious sapphire ring stolen by a so-called friend; and experienced other bad things at the hands of others.

I’ve since come to learn that the way through the bad stuff is to surrender or let go of the painful feelings – at the right time – and move towards real forgiveness.

While it’s taken a bit of practise, I’ve found that letting go has created an inner peace and given me space to allow good stuff to flow in. Although, I admit, it didn’t happen overnight.

Letting go made easy

Below is how I practise letting go. If you’re doubtful, perhaps you could try it first on something small, like when you lose a valuable item, and then work your way up to situations involving people.

  1. Make a decision. Decide you want to be happy and not right about what happened.
  2. Realise your future starts now. You don’t need to bring your past into your daily life.
  3. Detach. You’re so much more than the painful feelings attached to what you experienced. And, you don’t need to act on your feelings.
  4. Forgive. Practise authentic forgiveness and not the kind that still leaves you feeling resentful.
  5. Learn. Look for the lesson in the situation, however challenging that may be.

Belfort’s next chapter

Belfort was ordered to pay restitution of $110 million to his ‘victims’. He says proceeds from his book, movie deal and speaking gigs will help him get there.

One more thing, what I know for sure is that whenever someone harms another person, all the bad stuff they’re doing has already happened to them. Maybe Belfort’s investors can think about this, especially if they haven’t yet been able to let go of the past.  (Photo credit:

  • How do you let go of hurtful feelings when someone has wronged you? 
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