In my practice and in my personal life, I witness and experience mature, well-adjusted people hang onto what hurts and makes them suffer. People come to me to help them let go of the hurt and suffering, and then struggle with really letting it go.
I think that most, if not all, of us do this – struggle with letting go of that familiar hurt. In mindfulness, we are taught to let it stay. To become familiar with it. To make it our friend. And then, over time, what most often happens is that hurt fades away, and is replaced with something new.
That something new me be a new hurt, uncovered by letting go of the old one. Or, it may be a new possibility that could never have happened otherwise.
I hang onto pain because it’s familiar – I’ve learned how to hang onto it and live with it. I’m afraid of what will take its place – that I won’t know what to do with that new thing. And so I hang on. What I’ve learned is that hanging onto pain costs a lot of energy that isn’t available to me for anything else. Every day, 24 hours a day, part of me is engaged in hanging onto the pain, and then mitigating it in some way.
All that energy that I could have used in better ways.
I’m in my 70’s. I went through menopause fairly late, and during that time, I was always tired. At least partly for hormonal reasons, I had no energy. After that time, my energy levels began to rise. It was wonderful! And still, there were a few things I kept hanging onto.
I eventually let go of those pains, and the amount of energy I have now on a daily basis is probably more than I had before menopause.
As long as we feel alive and motivated, we will encounter pain and suffering. The question is: can we let it go? Can we make it our friend?
The art of letting go … of the floor
Quote of the Week
“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer something that is familiar.”
― Tich Nhat Hanh
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