Could it be that pain or loss or heartbreak or rejection (insert your painful feeling/emotion) is prolonged because we refuse to let it go? We brood over it, dream about it, talk about and then IDENTIFY ourselves with it. It becomes who we are. For example after a heartbreak, you obviously and naturally brood over it, talk about it and then finally (unconsciously), you identify yourself with it. You start blaming yourself for the break up; or blaming your ex; then obsessing about how he/she wronged you and how love is unfair. You quickly get a new identity of being that guy/girl who is so unlucky in love because of a breakup that happened 5 or 10 years ago. However, it has been 10 years now, you are tired of being unlucky in love. You are tired of being heartbroken. You are tired of the pain. You want to heal, you want to be loved, and you want to love. You want to let go. They told you to let it go. You really want to. So how does one then let go of such a valid, real and painful experience? Because most of our emotional stress/tensions are real, the actual events surrounding the experience might be erroneous yet our perceptions or interpretations leading to our thoughts, which then leads to our emotions are real. Pain is Pain, whether real or imagined. Anger is Anger, you feel it, real or imagined. It is there.
I think pain is so prolonged because we hold on tightly to it. It is so uncomfortable yet it is tangible to a point that you can justify certain actions and behaviours arising from it. You can justify being angry because your heart is bleeding with betrayal. You can justify being mean because of the pain of rejection. You can justify being lazy due to previous disappointments. You can justify putting people down because of their unacceptable service (mean while deep down, it’s just your frustration). So if you are not aware of what is going on in your heart, body and mind, it is easy then to hold on to it and justify it. Jillian, I get it; how then do I let go?
First of all give yourself permission to feel. Feel the pain (oh it’s real). Feel the unfairness of the situation (whatever your version is or their version, it felt unfair to you). Feel the disappointment (you could have done things better, or they could have chosen you). Feel the hurt (it hurt when you poured your heart and soul into a project that flopped). Feel the jealousy (hmmm, why should they get to be so fortunate? Huh? You also want to be happy and have that promotion). Feel the resentment (you really hated that you failed to act with integrity). Feel the shame (you feel ashamed of yourself for getting into that abusive relationship). Feel the bitterness (the thought of their name makes your stomach churn. Just by seeing their caller ID on your phone, you feel like chucking the phone away). Feel it. Chances are if you are reading this, you grew up being told that “a man does not cry” “it is unladylike to feel certain things” “it is immoral to feel, think and act a certain way” “it is not feminine” “it is not masculine”. The point is, most of us grew up very unaware with our feelings especially the not so pleasant ones. We have not been taught how to manage or handle uncomfortable feelings. We then end up repressing them. No one told us that it is normal and natural to feel jealous or unforgiving. People will advise you to forgive and let it go (eye roll). Personally I struggled with forgiveness. I grew up a Christian and really tried to live a Christ-like life (filled with peace, goodness, forgiveness, humility, servitude, love, faith, etc.). I was a very good girl. Until in 2010, I decided to give myself permission to be honest with and about my feelings. I would feel so angry with my father and could not forgive him yet I felt under pressure to forgive him. I felt like I was expected to forgive him, it was the right thing to do, it was Christ-like. I hated pretending to be okay when I was not. So I decided to stop trying to be so good. I decided to be comfortable with my feelings and thoughts. I was so dramatic that I even stopped attending church. I have not looked back, great decision. Eventually, I forgave my father when I was ready.
So feel it and explore your feelings. Be curious and ask yourself questions. Why are you so angry? What is making you so angry? Is it really your boss? Is it really the robot that is not working? Is it really your husband? Is it really your job? Was it your father? Was it your mother? Is it the government?
It is important to take baby steps as you explore. It took years, months, weeks or days to be where you are. You were also not in pain the whole time, in the past, you had moments of joy, inspiration, boredom, satisfaction and then pain. It accumulated. So try to deal with your emotions as and when they come. For example, you are stuck in traffic and then you become upset. You start feeling annoyed with everything; the sun is too hot; the seat is uncomfortable; and this traffic is so annoying. You start thinking about what happened last night, the fight with your mother which reminds you of your childhood trauma. Urrggg!!! The list go on.
Acknowledge your feelings. It’s okay, the feelings are not permanent. Focus only on being angry at being in traffic. Feel it, feel irritated. Why are you irritated? What is irritating you? Don’t think about the last night’s fight or that disappointing feedback from your interview or that time you failed. Focus on the traffic incident. If it’s especially difficult to do so in your mind, say aloud to yourself, “I feel upset because I am stuck in traffic!”
What I love about exploring my feelings and emotions, they lead me to the core. Most of the time, you will realise that, it is boils down to some unmet need. You wanted to be liked. You wanted to be right. You wanted to win. You wanted an apology. You wanted to be respected. You wanted to be appreciated. You wanted them to get the joke. You wanted your space. You wanted them to understand. You wanted to orgasm. You wanted to be chosen. The list go on…Let it go. The feeling that you are feeling is not permanent and you can make the choice now to make it temporary. You feel the pain now. You feel upset now. You feel sad now. It’s not permanent. Imagine in 2 hours’ time, there is a possibility of feeling better or being in a better emotional and mental state. Isn’t that wonderful to know? Yes, it hurts, I know. Yes, it’s so fucking annoying, I know. Yes, it is so unfair, I know. Now it is and it will pass. So make the choice of feeling it, acknowledging it and then release. Inhale deeply and let it go as you exhale. Repeat. Repeat and repeat. You release by knowing that this feeling, this moment is temporary, it will pass; and you have an opportunity in the next minute, hour, day, week or months to feel better. Remember, you have had many years of suppressing your feelings, you will need lots of exercises like this before you can be comfortable. Also remember try not to boil the ocean, focus on one incident at a time. Deal with what you are feeling now. This good practice will also accumulate and in good time, you will be in healthy space. Yes. This is how I have released some unhelpful feelings in unpleasant situations. I feel, acknowledge and then release.