How long do you hang on to hurt and harm?
A minute or two? A day or two? A year, or perhaps forever and ever?
Sometimes we don’t like to just move on. We believe that hanging on to the hurt – “they weren’t listening to me”, or the harm “why did they do that to me?”, keeps our position justified. Our hurt justified. But we don’t need to keep holding and reflecting on hurt or harm to have it justified.
If you feel it, then that’s it – it’s there, justified or not, you still feel it.
The problem with hurt or harm, is that we don’t want to let them go. We don’t want to move on and live the next moment as if it didn’t happen. But what would life be like if you did move on, not like it didn’t happen, but moved into the next moment as if it was just as important as the last?
Moving into the next moment isn’t dismissing things as if they didn’t happen and as if there wasn’t any hurt. Instead, if we move into the next moment we can acknowledge that we are hurt or harmed and recognise that we need to be cared for – if even only by ourselves.
Holding on without seeking some sort of closure with that person only causes you pain. They are off living their life, whether they think about you and the pain they have caused, you may never know and probably will never know if you don’t address it.
I have heard people say, “it’s only minor, we don’t need to make a big deal out of it, I don’t need to ‘address’ it”. Are your thoughts and emotions agreeing with that position or are they still going back to what happened and how bad you feel about it as if it wasn’t minor but something major?
Sometimes by addressing it we hear another person’s story, and the reason why they did what they did. When we seek to understand their motives or at least watch them try to work out their motives, we come to a realisation that we can let go of clinging to this pain, this hurt, this harm. We can move on and let them go.
It doesn’t necessarily mean we forgive them for that pain, but we can at least let it go and experience what life has to offer now with an openness and fullness.
And in listening to them, we can hopefully then explain to them how we feel. We can then express our hurt, our pain. We can help them understand that just as you drop a rock into the water there are ripples, that people’s actions create ripples. Sometimes good ripples, sometimes bad ripples.
We need to attend to the ripples so that they don’t keep us swimming around in circles. So that they don’t become tidal waves and wash us out of our own lives.
We need to have restorative discussions with those that have harmed us. We need to understand that “hurt people hurt people”. That they may have been hurt or suffering in some way and so they have hurt us, and if we don’t want to hurt others, including ourselves, we need to deal with our own hurt.
Look out for possible ways that your actions could cause ripples of harm to others.
Look out for your own ripples that you are creating by not letting go.
Try the test of 3s: Will this issue matter in the next 3 days? Will it really make a difference to my life or can I let it go? Will it still be important in 3 months? Will I even remember this issue, this day in 3 years? If the answer is no, then recognise and acknowledge your feelings, and then let go of clinging to them and set yourself free.
Sometimes we may not feel we can address an issue with someone, then we really do need to assess it in terms of the test of 3’s. If we don’t set the hurt within the context of our whole life then it will become our whole life, which is tragic. We need to be able to leave pain, or at least find a place for it, and move ourselves on to the next moment as completely as we can so that we see ourselves as capable, whole and valued.
Free to explore the next moment with openness and curiosity.
Remember the dog who is left out in the rain. When the owner finally comes home and lets the dog in, the dog is so pleased to see its owner, it jumps around in excitement, runs around in circles, barks ‘hello, good to see you’ and then after a shake, finds a nice warm spot to dry off. But if you left a person out in the rain – a partner or a friend – what would their response be? Would they be excited to see you? How long would it take for them to move into the next ‘warm’ moment?
Sure they may go and have a shower, get dressed in warm clothes, but will they let it go? Will they remind you of it? Will they still feel abandoned and neglected later, days, months even years? How would you respond if you were left in the rain?
Acknowledging the pain, hurt, harm and then moving into the next moment allows us to see the action more clearly. It allows us to view it in line with our values. It allows us to now act in accordance with our values and not out of the emotion of the harm.
Sometimes we may need to be more dog!!!