Writing my last blog post required a huge amount of energy. Once it was done, I felt empowered. What helped more was reading the comments, the DMs, the IM’s, the emails and the tweets I have received since writing it. I knew before writing it that we all put up walls to some degree. I knew that most of us also wear masks – rarely truly letting people in to see who we really are. But the validation – actually knowing I wasn’t alone in how I was feeling and that I wasn’t alone from a friendship point of view – greatly contributed to the emotional strength I now possess.
In my last blog post, I made it seem like there were only 2 ways to deal with emotional burdens: trying to decipher things or burying them. A couple of conversations with good friends reminded me there is a 3rd – and much healthier way – simply learning when to truly let go.
I’ve already shared that I have trouble dealing with emotional things. It’s difficult enough to figure out why I feel the way I do, never mind taking into account someone else’s emotions and the reasons they feel and do the things they do. You can analyze what it was about you that caused them to feel or do whatever it is that they felt or did and find yourself going nowhere but crazy. The truth of the matter is, it is often nothing about you, but entirely about the other person.
If you separate out from the situation what is/was under your control from them, sometimes you’ll find there were things you could have done differently. You can choose to take personal responsibility for those behaviors and emotions then chalk it up to – sometimes a painful – learning experience and then let go of the rest.
Perhaps because I’m a strong person I have always had an issue with truly letting go. I equated letting go with a sign of weakness. But, really, is it? By not letting go – and releasing whatever emotions you attach to a situation or a person – you are giving it more power. Holding onto things, trying to sort through things that often have no answer in logic, is actually weakness is it not?
There are a number of things I’ve written/tweeted relating to this over the course of this year. I think at some level, I knew what I should be doing from a logical standpoint; I just needed the emotional side to catch up. Here is one of those tweets:
“Truly letting go of something can not only change your mindset but it can change your life.”
Many years ago, I was in a place where I had let myself start to feel. At the time, I was in a relationship that was troubling. It was someone I was very close with who had, in my opinion, taken on a bad behavioral pattern of saying and doing things to intentionally cause pain. I confronted him about it – saying we either had to end our friendship or things had to change. His response to me was: “I do not do things to hurt you. It’s how you choose to respond that causes the pain you feel.” I felt he was being cruel by not making an effort to understand why I was hurt. In retrospect, I realize he was right. He was at a very bad place in his life. I let his words and actions hurt me. In doing so, I gave up personal power. I walked away from what had been a very good friendship because I let something that wasn’t at all about me/our relationship but relating to other things he was going through impact how I felt.
With serious prompting from one of my friends, I realized it was time to take my own advice. In 3 specific circumstances that were bothering me – emotional baggage if you will – I decided not only to let go, but to take personal responsibility for that which was mine and to also tell the people. I received closure in doing so. After all, isn’t a lack of closure one of the major reasons we have pain from many situations? The ball was in their court for how they chose to respond, if they responded at all.
My state of mind was not at a place where I actually had let go before writing/sending the emails. But through the process of getting it out there, I had a mindshift. I also now have my personal power back. I’ve let situations that were draining me on some level make the shift to being learning experiences.
This isn’t about putting walls up. This isn’t about stopping myself from feeling. It’s about recognizing that sometimes – no matter how we feel, what we did, what damages were done – the only thing we can change is how we choose to react and when we’ve decided we’ve given up enough on an emotional level to something or someone.