“Suffering is not holding you. You are holding suffering. When you become good at the art of letting sufferings go, then you’ll come to realize how unnecessary it was for you to drag those burdens around with you. You’ll see that no one else other than you was responsible. The truth is that existence wants your life to become a festival.”
Do you, like most people, create in your mind negative scenarios that make you restless, nervous and unhappy? Here are a few examples:
- If you tend to dwell on distressing events from your past, and relive them in your mind over and again, you will find it difficult to let go of the anger and resentment that they awaken in you.
- If you get angry and resentful each time you see, meet or think about a certain person who has hurt your feelings, it would not be easy to let go of the anger and resentment you harbor against him or her.
- If you have guilty conscience about things you did, or did not do in the past, you will most certainly carry anger within you, which will hurt you if you do not find a way to let it go.
- If you are too hard on yourself and do not forgive yourself for mistakes you did in the past, this attitude would make you unhappy, discontent and sad.
You can enjoy peace and happiness, only when you learn to let go of your anger and the thoughts that awaken this anger.
A friend once told me that she could not forgive herself for not taking good care of her mother when she got old. That thought kept torturing her, and never let her feel inner peace.
I heard someone saying that he would never forgive his sister for not giving him a hand in a time of need, and therefore, each time they meet he cannot let go of his anger and resentment toward her.
Another friend once told me that as a teenager, he was a bit overweight, and was often ridiculed by his classmates. Nowadays, though he looks good, he still carries the hurt feelings he experienced in his childhood and he finds it difficult let them go.
- Whom do you hurt the most when you do not let go of anger, resentment and hurt feelings?
- Whom do you hurt the most, when you tell yourself, “I will never forgive him for hurting my feelings”?
- Whom do you hurt, when you refuse to forgive yourself for the mistakes you did in the past?
- Whom do you hurt the most, when you frequently dwell on unpleasant past memories, and relive in your mind over and again every detail of these distressing events?
In all these situations, you hurt yourself and your feelings.
A great number of people feel that they cannot forget and let go the past and move on to positive feelings. This is because the negative feelings of anger, hurt and lack of forgiveness are deeply rooted in them, and dominate their life, moods and actions.
How to Let Go of Anger, Resentment and Hurt Feelings
“Let go. Why do you cling to pain? There is nothing you can do about the wrongs of yesterday. It is not yours to judge. Why hold on to the very thing which keeps you away from hope and love”?
– Leo Buscaglia.
I once watched an interview on the TV with a successful football player. The interviewer asked him how he feels when he hears or reads harsh criticism about his performance on the field. The football player said:
“At the beginning of my career, every criticism distressed me for days. I felt hurt and couldn’t stop occupying my mind with the unpleasant words I heard or read.”
“I resented the people who criticized me, and thought that they were mean and wrong, because I did my best at every game I was playing.”
“Today, I still read what people write about me, but their criticism does not affect me anymore.”
“I have decided not to let nasty remarks or ‘constructive advice’ take control over my life and my feelings. I have decided to let go of my anger, resentment and hurt feelings, because I choose happiness and peace of mind over anger and lack of inner peace.”
Guidelines for Letting Go of Negative Emotions
If you are camping and want to light a campfire, you start it with a few twigs, a few pages of a newspaper and a box of matches. Afterwards, to keep the fire on, you need to feed it with more twigs and branches, otherwise, the fire will go out.
- Anger resembles fire. Like the fire, if you keep feeding the fire of your anger, it will grow stronger and harm you.
- If you let anger occupy your attention, you allow it to grow.
- If you stop feeding it with your attention, it will fade away.
How do you stop feeding your anger and resentment?
By denying it your attention, and this you can do by practicing emotional detachment.
What Is Emotional Detachment
Emotional detachment is a skill that enables you to let go of distressing and harmful emotions. This skill protects you from getting irritated and agitated by what people say or do, and helps you remain composed and levelheaded in unpleasant and difficult situations, and when in the company of annoying people.
Negative emotions stop upsetting you, when you practice emotional detachment, and you remain tranquil and unaffected by them.
There are various techniques for developing emotional detachment, and in this article, I will talk about one of them.
Imagine how free, calm and happy you would be, if you could stop getting upset by what people say or do, let go of negative thoughts and emotions, and avoid taking things personally.
How to Practice Emotional Detachment
As said earlier, if you do not feed anger and resentment with your attention, they will soon fade away and stop disturbing you.
1. First, try to be aware of what is going on in your mind by asking yourself the following questions:
- Do I get upset often?
- Do I tend to repeat in my mind, over and again, painful scenarios from the past?
- Do I get angry often?
- Do I often feel resentment and other negative feelings?
If the answer is ‘yes’, to one or more of the question, you need to practice emotional detachment.
2. It would be easier to exercise emotional detachment, when you raise doubts about the necessity of your negative feelings and disturbing thoughts.
You have two options, when you experience anger, resentment or hurt feelings.
- You can allow yourself become agitated, and continue focusing and thinking about the negative feelings, and on the event that caused them.
- You can let go of your anger, resentment and hurt feelings, by stopping to give them your attention and mental energy. This would be easier, if you ask yourself questions about them and raise doubts about their necessity.
- Asking questions would take away the energy and intensity of your negative feelings, because you would see how unreasonable and unnecessary they are.
- With this simple, yet effective technique, you would attain calmness and inner peace.
Here are the questions you need to ask yourself when negative emotions arise within you:
- Do I need the anger, distress and unhappiness that I am experiencing?
- Does anger and resentment add any value to my life?
- Do my anger, resentment and hurt feelings help me make wiser decisions, or they cloud my better judgment?
- Is there any reason why I should carry with me any emotional burden, anger, resentment, hurt feelings or guilty conscience?
The questions will make your realize that all the negative feelings you are experiencing are unnecessary and meaningless, and this would make it easier for you to let them go.
Of course, this will not happen instantly. You will need to repeat this process often, and gradually, you will be able to replace anger, resentment and hurt feelings, with happiness and peace of mind.
“Holding on to anger, resentment and hurt only gives you tense muscles, a headache and a sore jaw from clenching your teeth. Forgiveness gives you back the laughter and the lightness in your life.”
– Joan Lunden
“There is an important difference between giving up and letting go.”
– Jessica Hatchigan
“Letting go means to come to the realization that some people are a part of your history, but not a part of your destiny.”
— Steve Maraboli
The mind is always busy with nonstop chatter, negative thoughts, and futile inner conversations that prevent focus, clear thinking and inner peace. You can quiet down this restless activity, and this book will show you how.