Sometimes we are so tied up in our emotions that it seems impossible to let things go, even if it’s all we really want.
When we mentally replay incidents from our past, whether it happened long ago or just this past week, our imaginations take over. We imagine what we should have said to clearly communicate how the other person did us wrong, cheated us, rejected us so they know the “right way” to love us in the future.
We dream up scenarios on what we’ll say when they hypothetically try to shift the blame back onto us. We choreograph how we’ll act the next time we see them, clearly expressing the pain they have caused. We lecture people in our minds on what “should be” and we prepare ourselves for a future that we think we have control over.
When we lecture people in our mind, what we really want is to release the pain, the hurt, the shame and the guilt that keeps us stuck on an emotional ride that continuously loops us around and around. The negative emotions seep in, eventually tainting our overall mood, decisions, and ability to forgive and move on. The saturation of emotional negativity eventually affects our mental health and even our physical health since it’s all connected.
When we get carried away with lecturing someone in our head, it’s impossible to concentrate on our breathing, how we’re holding our body, creative solutions to help ourselves, or being present and mindful. The lecturing becomes all consuming, leaving no room for healing.
Though it may seem as if we are working out our emotions by continuously playing out how we will deal with the emotional pain someone else has caused us, we are actually distracting ourselves from the real root issue: How to soothe ourselves and heal.
Soothing ourselves from painful emotions is not something most of us are taught. We have spent most of our lives masking these “ugly” emotions at all cost. Shoving them aside until they don’t affect us anymore (or so we think), numbing ourselves with whatever works, distracting ourselves so we don’t have to deal with the uncomfortableness of it all. Some of us call this survival.
But what we have discovered is to truly let go, forgive and move on, we have to learn to use tools to soothe these emotions and not just ignore them. Ignoring them will buy us some time, but it does not solve our problems and generally leads to more. Learning the skills and addressing our personal needs to self-soothe is how to truly let go.
What may be difficult for most of us is understanding and accepting that self-healing is a process. A process that probably takes a lifetime to master. But like any other skill, the more we apply our tools, show up and practice, the easier it will be to soothe our aching heart, bruised ego, and confused identity.
To stop holding grudges, to quit the lecturing and really let go of the pain of the past is extremely difficult. The tools we have reached for are therapy, meditation, podcasts, and self-help books. It’s an uncomfortable road to go down and we aren’t used to those feelings. We are still in the process of letting go of lots of things, but we have shifted our perspectives and realize now that there’s not a single goal we are moving towards but instead a lifelong process with many milestones.
The weight of continuous mental lecturing can be lifted with practice and this shift in perspective is a gift of freedom. One of our most recent tools to help us shift our perspective and continue our healing journeys is The Rich Roll Podcast-Light Watkins: Doing the Work is the Shortcut (WARNING: It’s a loooong podcast but there are some real gems in here!).
Ming-Wai + Ming-Cee