My handsome husband is a happy guy who loves everyone. Well, I should say, he defaults to seeing the best in all people and situations (good guy he is). He believes that everybody deserves love and forgiveness, no matter what. Whether they’ve cheated on him, alienated his children for no good reason, short-changed him money he was owed for a job well done, or what have you.
And while he sees his job as loving people no matter what (although I’m not sure I’m fully buying it, he is after all, mortal), I see it as my job to harbor bitterness, anger, and resentment towards anybody who’s hurt him, me, or my peeps in general.
Well, I’m just being honest.
Besides, I have my reasons for holding onto these emotions like they are winning lottery tickets. Three to be precise:
- Bitterness, resentment, and other like emotions can be useful. They give me valuable information, protect me from making the same mistakes twice, and offer me important lessons and reflections I can use to apprise future situations.
“Even the most challenging emotions have an important function in life,” says Shaman and Life Coach Ruda landé, founder of Primal Source, in an article originally published in the Huffington Post. He says instead of fighting against your own nature, we should use life’s challenges for our progress. “Grief can bring compassion, anger can fuel you to overcome your limits, and insecurity can become a catalyst for growth, but only if you give them space inside of yourself.”
I am so feeling THIS.
- Having a wide range of emotions makes me human. As a result, I have learned to not beat myself up for feeling afraid or insecure or bitter or desperate or even jealous, because these emotions are part and parcel of being alive. Instead, once I’m done screaming expletives into a pillow, I try to understand what I’m feeling, and even use what I learn about myself to let go as necessary. Am I always successful? Nope. But I surely have more wins than losses.
- We can only let go of these types of negative emotions once we’ve fully acknowledged, processed, and felt them. Played out every scenario in our heads as to what would happen if our worst fears around them came true. And yet, if we’re always covering up our “bad” emotions with cotton candy thinking, holding them at bay, forgiving without reflection, or fooling ourselves into believing we’re “over it” or we “don’t care”—if we don’t FEEL the holy crap out of our own turmoil and conflict, squeezing all we can out of their juicy badness—they risk lingering. Potentially forever.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I am NOT down for that.
I truly believe, for example, that it’s because I’ve allowed myself to have every feeling known to man about the very sad and painful shenanigans my husband’s ex has put us through over the years, that I’ve been able to let it and her go. Because I’ve been able to experience all of the emotions that come with grief, I’ve been able to make my peace with the death of someone I deeply loved, keeping them in my heart without anguish, remembering the good and letting go of the pain and tragedy of how they passed.
The sentiment does not just hold true in my world. Many years ago, I knew a couple that fought a lot. Much to the chagrin and dismay of their friends, they married anyway. When I ran into them years later, they seemed blissfully happy. I asked them how they got there. They said, we fairly quickly ran out of things to fight about. Once we’d gotten it all out of our system, we were able to enjoy life!
It’s like this: Back when I was writing my weight-loss diary for Shape Magazine, I took Shaolin Kung Fu and my Sifu decided to give me a few lessons in Ju Jitsu. I remember him pinning me down on the floor and saying, “What are you going to do now?” Reflexively, I tried to push him away. WRONG. He said pushing the bad guy away in that position gives him a wide range of motion to do harm (e.g., slap me, spit on me, stab me, or worse). Instead, he said, pull the attacker CLOSE. While it’s not reflexive, it will take him by surprise, eliminate his range of motion, and gives me back the upper hand to kick him or bite him or take action to get free.
Of course, it sounded odd—to pull the thing causing me pain CLOSE. But that’s exactly what he was suggesting. And you know what? That approach has a lot of application here, when it comes to our emotions and letting go.
While it may seem counterintuitive and unpleasant at first, we’ve got to hold on tightly to our hard feelings and work them out within ourselves, in order to be able to finally let them go.
This is actually part of the mindset behind the Emotional Freedom Technique, otherwise known as EFT or “tapping”, something we’re big proponents of in the Murray household. Unlike other techniques that have you focused on positive thinking, tapping aims to take the charge out whatever’s happening by asking you to crawl inside the emotion first. Then tapping on certain acupressure points on your body, and venting until you organically come to a place of peaceful resolution. I am oversimplifying this enormously, but suffice to say, we are big proponents of tapping and I encourage you to check it out.
I also agree wholeheartedly with Shaman landé when he says he believes in the contrast in life. “When you embrace the full spectrum of who you are—including the sadness, anger, insecurity, and fear – all the energy you used to fight against yourself becomes available for living and creating.”
Or as I say in my TEDx talk, when you let go to create space for the things that are most important and what you really want, you will eventually find your way to them.
What do you think? Let me know! Leave me a comment below!
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Jill Sherer Murray is an award-winning writer and speaker who studies creativity, relationships and self-growth. She is also the founder of Let Go For It®, a lifestyle brand dedicated to helping individuals let go for a better life. Jill’s TEDx talk as well as her advice column, Big Wild Love: Let Go For It® were created in service to her loyal and growing fan base, who seek support in the act and the art of letting go for the love they desire and deserve. Follow Jill @letgoforit on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.