For many of us, letting go can be a battle not easily won. Our pride and ego gets in the way of being able to let go of anger, pain, jealousy, past relationships or any other negative emotion that may be plaguing our minds in the heat of the moment. Some of us struggle with this more than others, taking days (or sometimes weeks) to truly be able to move on. It could be as simple as the service being slow at a restaurant or your child acting out and being strong willed. Suffering (but learning to cope with) a mood disorder, I am the type to hold onto things for too long. Mulling over, brooding, stewing for days at a time. But slowly, with the baby steps that are so drastically changing my life, I am learning how much more peaceful it is to learn how to let go.
The key to this is acknowledgement. If we can practice recognizing the emotion as it arises, we are able to acknowledge it; and by acknowledging we can seek the root of the issue. Typically a negative emotion is born out of our ego, and you’ll hear me talk about this often. Your ego is what drives every selfish action we act upon and every unkind reaction to a negative situation we encounter. But it is important to realize that your ego is not you. It is simply the voice inside you urging you to protect yourself–your minds sole purpose. So why is it reacting to a particular situation in a negative way? What inside of you is causing you to become defensive, or angry, or jealous? Is it a past experience that has taught your mind that it must protect itself in the future? Is it your ego telling you that you deserve better treatment, that you deserve respect? Maybe you’ve never felt good enough, and someone said something to trigger that feeling once again. Whatever the cause may be, by acknowledging the emotion as it arises you are able to target the root and look within. You are able to see the wound and begin healing it from inside yourself. And suddenly, it becomes easier to let go. Suddenly–even if slowly–your inner peace and inner happiness become less effected every time you practice this simple action of looking within and acknowledging. Not everyone will be able to calm those feelings inside of you, not even your spouse or mother. You must learn to calm those feelings yourself. And the beauty of healing is that it slowly takes away from your ego. Being free of your ego is to be free of bitterness. To be free of your ego is finding peace.
Remember that this is a practice. You won’t be perfect at it. I know I’m certainly not. But as they say, practice makes perfect. And I believe you, and I, will be able to achieve the kind of peaceful state that allows us to be free of our emotions. Our outside stimuli will slowly begin to not be able to impact us the same way; and in doing so our happiness cannot be taken away. Having a mood disorder I simply cannot always control makes this practice so much more work. But I have come so far in learning how to quiet my mind that even if I find myself unable to push away the anger or bitterness or ego in that particular moment, I am still constantly learning how to better handle it in the future. Next time the waiter is rude at dinner, silence your ego and give them grace. Next time your boss criticizes you, choose not to take it personally. Truly this is all we can hope for–constant learning, and the want to grow. We will not win every battle we encounter. But by learning and practicing we will win this war.
“Some of us think holding on makes us strong, but sometimes it is letting go.” -Herman Hesse