LETTING GO SERIES: Releasing Past Hurts
Many types of offense can lead to emotional trauma and stagnation in our lives. The fact that we hold on to hurts, whether large or small, can have a tremendous impact on the experiences we attract and the lives we lead. The Letting Go series will cover 4-5 of the most common (and challenging) situations that we ourselves in and bring clarity as to why they show up. For those feeling stuck in the cycle of hurt, there are simple solutions to help you get unstuck and move on from these experiences.
LET GO OF THE DESIRE TO BE RIGHT
This is huge. Having been the focus of smear campaigns and gossip, I can tell you it's no fun. And although I hate to say it, unfortunately, the experience is typical among women. Hurt people hurt people. In the case of women, it usually stems from envy, jealousy or competitiveness. All are offshoots of self-worth issues. Regardless of the origin, it can be an incredibly painful experience when you're on the receiving end.
On the surface, it seems a noble pursuit when you seek to make right a wrong, demand an apology or attempt to clear your name and reputation. In actuality, that desire, if held too long, is often in direct opposition to your needs.
There are three instances in which hurt can be useful, and immediate relief is possible:
1. You've experienced a disagreement over a small matter.
You've heard the expression, "making a mountain out of a molehill." Lots of folks stew in their hurt and talk to everyone else other than the person that offended or hurt them, allowing the issue to fester and grow out of control. I know from experience.
I've spent ridiculous amounts of time imagining how I would confront so and so. The anger building as I held these imaginary conversations. It just stays with you, which serve no purpose.
Be willing to talk it out and come to terms with your "rival" quickly. It brings you the good fortune of peace.
2. Arguing is a satisfactory result when the conflict brings about dialogue.
There is a need to state your argument clearly without emotion to achieve success. The energy of two people arguing (not yelling) lifts both to a higher level and often clears the air.
3. When conflict arises think in terms of finding a win/win solution.
I know this can be hard, but carrying a battle to the bitter end may wear others down, but given time, they will rise again in revolt. Resolve conflict through solutions that serve all parties, not through domination. The goal is to find common ground, even when you've been injured. You may be the catalyst for the recovery of your adversary's self-esteem.
Allowing yourself to let go may seem counterintuitive, but from an emotional standpoint, it is in your best interest to do so.
If you're reliving a painful experience, the situation in which you find yourself today has little to do with anyone else. At this point, it's about your continued response to what transpired. It's time to choose. Are you going to let it go or let it define you? Learn the lessons and make the necessary adjustments.
LESSON #1: FIRST AND FOREMOST LIFE IS A PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
Yes, it's relational and communal, but it's personal. How you see yourself, interpret your experiences, and what you believe about the world. These things in large part shape you, resulting in a personal playbook and set of rules that govern your experiences both in the present, and the future.
We've all been there, in some form or another; someone speaks poorly of you, lied about you or cheated on you. It sucks. But, remember hurt people hurt others, and they act in their own best interests. Your experience, although painful, is a catalyst for self-reflection. An opportunity to gain an understanding of yourself and apply wisdom to future possibilities that show up in your life.
When those opportunities present themselves, you can meet them with greater clarity about how best to engage (if at all) and recognition of the wholeness (or lack thereof) of others as a result of what you've learned from your experience.
However, if you chose to remain in the hurt place, blaming others for any misfortune you feel, you've created a pattern for your playbook. You can expect to see it show up again and again because what we do not learn from we repeat.
LESSON #2: LIFE IS NOT HAPPENING TO YOU
You're not a victim of circumstances or people unless you decide it to be so or give others power over you. Holding on to hurts, even grievous ones, and continuing to live in the past is the more profound tragedy; allowing it to bleed into your present and your future.
Three things to consider and help you let go:
1. Examine yourself
If you are having trouble with one person that's fine, but if you're having trouble with everyone, perhaps the issue resides in you. It's time to address the mindset that you have and what puts you at odds with others.
2. Not all situations should be judged on what happened in the past.
Doing so can lead to an unnecessary defensiveness that has nothing to do with reality. For example, Fred cheated on you. Good guy Jake is now in your life, but he's paying the price for Fred's misdeeds. We project the past when we don't let it go. The present is overlaid with judgments from the past and endangers the present and future.
3. To go on peacefully, forget the why and replace it with the word acceptance.
There will be greater opportunities by letting this one go. The good things that are meant to reside in your life on a long-term basis will. Nothing good is being withheld from you.
Realize that those that hurt you made their choice based on their needs and there is nothing to be done except to seek closure. Acceptance and closure don't always mean the person who hurt you will apologize or offer reasons why they did what they did. At this point, that person is irrelevant. You can gain closure without them.
Making a few tweaks in your approach to conflict and past hurts, and how to let stuff go can make all the difference. It's natural to want to hold on, but choose to hold on to the things that bring you pleasure, joy, peace, and instill hope and promise. Release those that weigh you down with anger, mistrust, and pain. Until and unless you do so, life can feel like a battlefield to navigate more so than a gift to be treasured.
Simply remind yourself to be open to positive changes and that you are ready to move forward. Come back to your reminder when you catch yourself thinking about the past. Take a deep breath, come back to the present, and enjoy the journey. Until next time!
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