If you have suffered traumatic hurt, and someone asks you to just “Let go and move on” my guess is your response is along these lines:
- “How can I ever forgive them! They hurt me too much!”
- “Why SHOULD I let go? They don’t even show the slightest sign of regret! I am not a saint!”
- “Letting go sounds easy for you to say, but the pain is just too much!”
- “I try to let go, but the memories keep coming back!”
Let’s have a look at the beliefs one by one:
#1: “How can I let him go! It is not easy. He hurt me too much!”
If I said “Why should I treat the swelling on my face? He punched me for no reason. It is his fault!” wouldn’t it sound silly?
‘Letting go’ is not about saying what the other person did is OK. It is only about your pain.
It is refusing to punish yourself for somebody else’s mistake
#2: “But what if the pain is too big!?”
No matter how big the pain is, it is suffered once. What you are experiencing now is the memory of that pain.
The memories might feel real, very powerful – but they are still memories, your thoughts about that event.
One real whiplash, and a 100 more mental whiplashes.
They wounded you once. Now you keep poking it.
Would you like to learn, how not to poke them more? How not to keep them in the closet, see them repeatedly and feel the pain/urge to get revenge ?
#3: “Are you saying it’s MY fault?!”
This is the root misunderstanding: Confusing ‘Taking responsibility for yourself ‘ with ‘self-blame’.
“I want to get rid of my pain. But if I can – it would mean I was holding on to it myself. So it is my fault. Therefore my pain is not acceptable”
I am not suggesting judgement, but simply observation.
Seeing that “I am the one holding on to my pain” might be the first step to take responsibility and set myself free. But the judgement that follows and says “…and therefore the pain is not acceptable” is the issue. Because it pains anyway!!
And hence we stay stuck:
“If my pain is unacceptable, why does it still pain? Then it must be THEIR fault. But the Quora guy said I was holding on to it. So it is MY fault.”
As if you have to be right, before you are in pain!
But do you have to?
The judgement is the issue, not the observation. The pain does not depend on whether it is your fault or not. Then why does the healing have to?
#4: “I see now I am responsible for healing my suffering. But how do I heal it? How do I forget? Because the memories just won’t go”
The mind heals itself! You don’t have to. But we don’t let it. And we think it is because of the memories coming back.
The memories keep coming back. It’s alright. They might!
Imagine someone calls you ugly. Does it sting? Yes? Now imagine it was a 3 year old toddler calling you ugly, because you won’t buy him cookies. Suddenly the sting softens.
The emotional impact is determined not by the words, but by the seriousness you grant them.
If your mind has suffered trauma, or any strong emotional experience – it is inevitable that memories will arise. When, why, how they arise depends on hundreds of beliefs, triggers, moods, situations – all totally beyond your control. It’s just the way the mind is designed.
But the pain that you experience will depend on the meaning, the power you grant to that memory at that moment. Without meaning, they are nothing but a bunch of images and symbols.
More power you grant, more real they seem, more you resist, more painful they feel. And more they persist.
If you see them just as memories from the past that are not real right now, they seem less real, then you grant less power, less resistance. You let them come. And pass.
Fading away is their nature. Unless you hold on to them and grant them power
You cannot control the memories. But you can choose whether you hold on to them or not.
Do you see that “Letting go” is a process of letting those memories BE? Of NOT trying to control them, resist them. Of letting them come, so that they can go…on their own?
The memories pass away by themselves. We just have to let them.
That is what ‘Letting go’ is: The mind heals itself. We can only allow it.