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Why Can't I Let Go?

Updated on September 29, 2012

Making Peace with Pain

“If you let go a little, you will have a little peace. If you let go a lot, you will have a lot of peace.” Ajahn Chah

I have a tendency to hold on to negative things that I need to purge from my life. There is one particular life event that will not let me go. It comes back to haunt me almost laughing at me as it forces me to remember a past failure. When the feeling returns, I suffer greatly.

I am not alone. Millions of people suffer from traumatizing life experiences. My experience was work-related. After receiving my degree in business, I was given my first opportunity in management. This position would require me to work with someone for whom I had previously worked. I soon realized that I had made a poor decision because my new supervisor was an office bully. After several weeks of being belittled and insulted, I asked to be moved back to my former department. I returned to my old job feeling both shame and failure.

When I returned, I was emotionally shaken by my experience. I could not understand what happened. I felt that it must have been my fault because people continuously told me to "get over it." It has been six years since my experience. I have somehow moved on but I still feel pain.

Ajahn Chah asserts that “If you let go a little, you will have a little peace. If you let go a lot, you will have a lot of peace.” In my situation, I have only let go a little. Therefore, I only have peace for a short while. I will not experience complete peace until I can "let go a lot."

"Letting go a lot" is difficult. It requires that we totally surrender this pain to the universe. We are handing over the problem to God. It is not an act of repression; it is an act of acknowledgement that we can not handle this problem on our own.

When we hold on to the negative, our soul becomes full of pain and despair. In this state we can not grow spiritually. Instead we become obsessed with the self. This state may create anxiety, and our first reaction may be to self medicate. When the human soul reaches this point, it becomes a slave to anything that can numb the pain. If we find that we are reaching this point, it is important to seek help immediately because we have entered dangerous territory. Therefore, to avoid self destruction we must take the following steps to help us make peace with our pain.

Pray for Guidance

The first step to letting go, is to seek counsel from the One that is much wiser than we. Relief will not happen overnight, but if we strengthen our spiritual relationships we will find greater peace. Many people have found their faith to be a great source of strength during difficult times.

Resit the Urge to Blame Yourself

Sometimes if our pain is the result of poor life choices, we have a tendency to blame the self. Blaming the self often leads to poor self-esteem. If our self-confidence suffers, we may lose the desire to try again. We may even give up on our goals. It is important to make peace with our life choices. Everything in life happens for a reason. We may not know the reason, but it is important to remember that something even better is waiting for us in the future. When we learn to posses this level of patience, we find peace.

Plant a Tree of Life

Sometimes we must do something or perform some type of action to help us achieve peace. Planting a tree, a garden, or a bush can be therapeutic if we imagine that the act represents our new life. As we water and nurture the seedling, we come to understand that the the tree is a metaphor for the self. We see that we must water and nurture the soul in order to produce contentment and peace. As our tree or garden begins to grow, we weed and prune to rid it of things that are harmful to its growth. Letting go of the negative, is our way of pruning and weeding the negative stuff from our lives. When the tree or garden bears fruit, we will also notice that our lives have once again began to bear fruit and we can move on.

Seek Help if You Need It

There is nothing wrong with asking for help. Asking for help takes strength and courage. We must understand that we do not have to go through our problems alone.

Concluding Thoughts

As I write this article, I am thinking of ways to completely let go of my pain. Each person must travel the path that is right for his or her well being. The important thing is for each of us to tell ourselves, "Yes, I can let go."


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