This is part of a series of an alphabet of help for living well, despite everything:
L is for Let-it-go!
I’ve been stepped on. Bruised. Trounced. Crushed.
What’s my initial, instinctive, human response? I’m shocked– how could they? I’m in attack mode– those nasty blankety-blanks, I’m gonna show them why they are so wrong. I relive what they did to me. I scheme how to make them understand– they hurt me. I invent a multitude of creative punishments to make them pay. Meanwhile, the inconsiderate, rude, cruel, stupid things they did are making me more and more miserable.
Imagine dipping a string into molten wax, adding layer upon layer, growing a bigger and bigger candle.
There’s something satisfying about this process of dipping and accumulating, isn’t there?
But what if this candle is made from a wax called bitterness?
Here’s what I make myself do, when I need to let it go:
- Release my anger with a pounding good walk or run, deliberately shedding sweat and sometimes tears. If it’s a deep pain, I write out my hurt, my shock, my frustration and anger. Occasionally while writing I might bawl my eyes out. Then I do something dramatic like rip the paper to shreds or I burn it (this is effectively satisfying; try it). And then I take another pounding good walk.
- Cool down and grow physically calmer by doing breathing exercises (see B is for breath).
- Remind myself that the person who hurt me is not in control of my life or my happiness. I am.
- Try to find compassion for the person who hurt me. This isn’t complicated. Once I muster a wholehearted conviction that there must be compassion within me, I don’t have to go looking for it, compassion comes to me. (It’s amazing; try it.)
- Choose to forgive. This is a process–if my pain is small, the process is short and I only have to forgive seven times or so to coax my misery into burning out like a birthday candle at the end of its wax. If my pain is thick (picture a huge pillar candle built from years’ of resentments), it’s going to take much longer. I’ll need to forgive and forgive, 70 times 7 or more.
To forgive is to put a flame to the candle of resentment; I will burn it (keep forgiving) until it burns itself down to nothing.
In the center of forgiveness we find what we must do; we must give up resentment.
Of course wisdom tells us that resentment is not the only thing we must relinquish in the quest for peace and contentment.
Share with us, my dear wise friends. What are you learning not to keep, and how do you intend to let it go?