Do you ever find yourself thinking back to a negative past experience you have had?
For example, do you think of how someone mis-treated you in the past and find yourself feeling angry, upset or even bitter? Do you ever look back and have regrets or wish things turned out differently than they did?
There is a saying that goes "sticks and stones may break my bones but your words will never hurt me"- this is a lie! because words do hurt just as much as actions. I have found myself often carrying negative emotional energy from situations that happened years ago where people hurt me or took me for granted or said something negative. For example, I once had someone (a complete stranger) come up to me and ask me for some money to which I politely said no and kept it moving. Unknown to him, I was rushing to get my train and had about 3 minutes to get there. As I speedily walked, this man followed me and grabbed my arm and in a sinister way shouted "you heartless, selfish bitch!" and he walked off leaving me and others around me in shock. I missed my train and realised about 3 weeks before this incident, I had given £10.00 to this same man. I remembered him, he of course didn't.
There have been many other situations that have happened where I have been disappointed by people. I am sure that you also, can look back and think of moments where someone did or said something that upset or hurt you. For some of us, we continue to hold on to those feelings of hurt for a long time. This is where the problem is. By holding on to those feelings, we disturb our peace and happiness here in the present moment and it can end up causing damage in other ways too. You have to let it go.
Let it go is a term often used but not always explained. How do you "let go" of a painful emotion? An emotion is something that is not physical. It's not like your pain is something you can pour down the sink like unwanted water, it's not like the hurt is in some kind of glass bottle that you can hold in your hand and smash into pieces or throw out into the ocean somewhere. So when you are carrying pain, hurt or frustration from any situation that either happened today or many yesterdays ago....how do you just "let it go?".
No one can give you all the answers. There are several things you can do but one approach I can tell you that is working for me is: changing the way I think/interpret that particular situation that has hurt me. The facts about your past can't change, but the story you tell yourself about them absolutely can change.
Let us take the above example of the man I told you about earlier that decided to verbally abuse me as I was rushing to get my train. I am already a very sensitive person and so after this incident happened, my entire day that day was ruined. I thought about it all day, got angry with myself for letting him speak to me like that, got angry with him for speaking to me like that. I let that one aspect of my day define and ruin my entire day. Sometimes we can even let the hurt we have been through define more than one day, we can let it define aspects of our entire life. To avoid letting this happen, you have to change the narrative.
The past cannot be returned to. After days of chewing over the above incident in my mind and living in a negative emotional space everyday because of it, I decided to change the way I thought about this incident that happened to me and re-define it in my mind. This man who insulted me, in his mind thought I was a:
But to me, I was a woman who:
had a goal (to avoid missing my train so I can get to where I needed to)
knew when to say no and
have some boundaries in order to achieve that goal.
How he chose to respond was his problem not mine. The insults and word bitch took on a whole new more positive meaning. Now fast forward to the present, bitch just means I am a woman who has Boundaries, is Intelligent, Thoughtful, Creative and Hardworking/honest.😉
It is a process but I have applied this approach of changing my narrative across other aspects of my life too where I have experienced hurt or pain by the way someone has acted or words they have said. You can apply this approach also towards things you may have done that maybe you regret and wish you could go back and change.
It takes time, courage and practice but in the end the result is worth it. I encourage you to do the same and work on healing, closure and untangling yourself from negative emotions that in the end only disturb your joy and happiness here in the present. Do not live in regret or hurt. Don't allow a negative experience from yesterday define your life today. Find positive ways to use the bitter experiences instead. Change the narrative of those hurtful experiences.
So my question to you is: What bitter experiences can you begin to redefine today for the better?