What does it mean to let go of a painful emotion, memory, thought, resentment or hurt? For most of us it often means, “I don’t want to feel that feeling again!” And who could blame us, for who wants to feel emotional pain!
However, in the true spirit of letting go, there exists a crucial paradox: to truly let go means to allow the feeling of the painful memory, thought, resentment or hurt to be. That does not mean to wallow in it, dwell in it, or to push it away. It means to accept that it is part of who you are and place it in its proper perspective in the context of your life.
Sometimes “letting go” can be as simple as saying, “Oh, there is that feeling again!” and then turning your attention elsewhere. But sometimes letting go might require you to follow the feeling and grasp the meaning it might hold for the spirit of your true Self.
Years ago I suffered from a painful resentment. Then a wise friend advised me that “Resentment is like taking poison and expecting someone else to die!” Well, that brought me up short and made me realize that my resentment was hurting only me. I decided to “let it go,” but first I had to accept that I had it.
My next step was to think about what that resentment could teach me about myself. I learned a lot when I reflected deeply. I learned that I had certain expectations and when they were not met, I could build a lasting hurt that only hurt me!
I learned that when I replaced the resentment with a sense of “It’s all okay” I felt more peaceful. In this process I also created a little ceremony that I carried out with a trusted friend. I wrote the resentment down on a little note and cast it into the ocean. It worked! I did not forget the feelings I had held onto, but when I “let them go,” they no longer tormented me or took up space in my head–or my heart.
One misconception I want to clear up about letting go is that it is not the same as accepting unacceptable or abusive behavior from another person. When there is abuse, hurt and anger are emotions that can help mobilize you to set boundaries and get appropriate help. Living as a victim in reality, or in your head, ruins peace of mind.
Learning to differentiate what is abusive treatment from the perceptions that create peace stealing resentment can sometimes require outside help. The “inside” help comes from allowing yourself to have the emotion, studying it in your quiet moments, refraining from judging the feelings or the resentment itself, and then taking the appropriate measures. Whether it is getting professional help or committing yourself to the Inside Job, “letting go” ultimately will refresh, revitalize and renew your inner spirit.
Empowerment thought for today: “I accept all my emotions and I can learn how to let go of the ones that steal my peace of mind.”