Have you ever had an “upset” with someone? Perhaps there is someone in your life that is not talking to you or you aren’t talking to? Many patients mention these situations to me, stating that their families are “dysfunctional”. What most of my patients don’t know is that I have had the same experience with my family and friends. I have been struggling with this for a number of years – what to do, how to fix it, how to let go, etc. And I have spent countless dollars and hours in counseling, as well as filled up many journals to resolve these conflicts. I had an opportunity to go see Oprah at the beginning of 2013 and she said “First the lessons come to you in the form of a tiny pebble, then a larger rock hits you on the head, then a boulder and finally, the entire brick house might come crashing down on you for you to get the lesson”. I have come to understand that the lessons for me are:
1) The importance of letting go
2) Other people’s opinions of me are none of my business
3) Transformation happens when we learn to love and accept ourselves
4) To believe that I am good enough and worthy of love, just as I am
In 2013, I had two larger boulders hit me in the side of the head. The first was with an acquaintance on a trip we took together. A few weeks before we were supposed to leave, I recognized the large rock that I tried to ignore which was when I found myself saying: “It would be better if I shortened my trip or cancelled it all together”. Did I listen to this message or trust my inner voice? Of course not, I rationalized it away with my ego by saying “C’mon, you’ve already paid for your accommodation, how will you get your money back? How will you explain that you don’t want to go anymore? Your flights are booked, etc”. Without going into all the details, suffice it to say that I did not enjoy myself at all on this trip, had a less than enjoyable time and ended up wishing that I didn’t go. It also ended in a parting of ways with the acquaintance I went with as I wasn’t able to speak my truth about how I was feeling about the trip, the situation I was in, my stress levels, etc. On the one hand, I am okay with this, but on the other hand, I have a hard time when I think people don’t like me. I seem to give my own opinion of people less weight than the other person’s. I seem to disregard that I think the relationship is no longer a fit for me (i.e. an energy taker) when I perceive that the other person doesn’t like me. It is not okay for someone not to like me in my highly sensitive mind. I can tell you that this belief has caused me much angst, heart ache, energy and upset over the years as I would go to the ends of the Earth, sacrifice or stuff my own thoughts and feelings about a relationship in order to save it. I have had many sleepless nights pondering the question “Why does person X not like me? Why hasn’t Person X returned my call or email?” Through working with my Naturopathic Doctor, I have learned that loving and accepting myself has been the respite from my mind that my soul needed. This started by practicing the 4 Agreements & the 5 R’s of Problematic Thought Patterns, by recognizing when my boundary has been crossed & learning to recognize: “Whose shit is this and whose diaper is it in?”, by doing “The Work” by Byron Katie, by practicing Forgiveness, and by repeatedly going back to the breath whenever I find myself “stuck in my head” with thoughts. Finally, prayer has also been a saving grace.
This summer, I had another boulder hit me from out of the blue and land right on my chest crushing my heart – this one was much more difficult than the experience mentioned above as it was with a family member. Many hurtful things were said to me – and it was a reminder to me to be careful of the words you use for they can cut like a sword. In fact, what word do you see when you write “words” with no spaces between them, such as:
It spells swords! Believe me, what was said cut like a knife right into the deepest part of my soul. To give you an idea, one comment that was made was about me having a mental illness and how this person was “sick and tired of catering to you and your mental illness”. This just highlighted to me that there are still many people out there that are not accepting of mental illness and very judgmental. I often wonder if I had Parkinson’s, MS or cancer, I think people would be more understanding, supportive and accepting of me. But because my challenges lie in the mental realm with anxiety, social phobia, depression, an eating disorder, etc, people just don’t get it. It has become my life’s passion and purpose to break these barriers down and crusade for compassion, insight and understanding for those diagnosed with mental illness. I have been equally devoted to my own healing as I grow into my soul recovery and accept responsibility for what I bring to situations. I am also extremely grateful for the family that have stuck by me – whether they understand me or not – like my husband, father, mom, step-dad and many dear friends. I know they love me and while I used to want them to “get it”, I have come to accept that they don’t need to – they just need to stand by in love and by doing so, they have showed me how to love myself. Isn’t that what it is all about? In my situation, it is a matter of life and death at times as I have been affected by depression and plagued by suicidal thoughts. The difference in past years for me in not acting on those thoughts has been the flicker of light shining through the cracks of my broken heart – this light reminds me I have worth despite all the judgment from those that have cast me aside for whatever reason. I am still learning to accept the lessons of letting go of what has happened in the past & of letting go of other people’s opinion of me. I can tell you that it has freed up time for me, as I no longer spend countless hours writing in my journal or analyzing what has happened in my mind over and over again. I just breathe in, bring myself back to this moment, this gift in time & exhale all the self-critical thoughts that I have of others and myself. Slowly, one breath at a time healing is taking place for me….and my wish is it takes place for you too this Holiday season. My gift to you is this lesson in letting go from Robert Holden’s book “Be Happy”:
“Letting go: Suffering is a decision not to let go of the past yet. Happiness is a decision to step into the present now. And being present is what helps you to let go of what is not happening now. You may have had an unhappy childhood, but that is not happening now. You may have experienced a romantic heartbreak, but that is not happening now. You may have had a bitter disappointment in your career, but that is not happening now.
Letting yourself be happy is not a denial that suffering ever happened, and it is certainly not an attempt to dishonor any old pain. Letting yourself be happy is, however, a signal of intent to be free of more suffering. By choosing happiness, you invite healing. By saying “Yes” to happiness, you invite grace. By being open to happiness, you discover you have a deeper compassion for yourself than even you realized. Letting yourself be happy can be translated as I have suffered, and I want to be free; I feel pain, and I choose joy; I feel fear, and I ask for help; I feel angry, and I am open to forgiveness; I feel sad, and I call upon compassion; I feel lost, and I welcome grace.
Until you let yourself be happy, you make an idol of your suffering, which prevents you from seeing the true depth and beauty of your original nature. One of the mantras of my work is “Pain runs deep but joy runs deeper.” As you let yourself be happy, you realize that pain and suffering belong to the ego, but true healing and joy belong to your original nature. In other words, you realize that although you have experienced pain, you are not your pain, and that although you may continue to experience suffering, you are not your suffering. Happiness is giving up all resistance to letting go.“
On a positive note, 2 hours after the above-mentioned incident, I was reunited with my favorite Aunt from childhood. Due to family & life circumstances, I had not seen her for 11 years. The tears of joy and the loving embrace when I saw her washed away all the pain I had experienced in the hours before. Everyone has a heart and Rumi said “Do not look outside yourself and seek love, look within to see all the walls you have built between it and your heart.” Ask yourself where you have put a wall in your heart in order to protect it from being hurt. To break down these walls, breathe in love and with the exhalation let the love flow or radiate outward unconditionally to your friends, family, co-workers and those you may have a grievance with. I decided to share my experiences this year with you as I know that having an “upset” with someone is a common theme in many peoples lives and my intention is for this to be helpful to you so you too can get to the place of acceptance, understanding, forgiveness and finally, letting go or letting God. 🙂