“Only by acceptance of the past can you alter it.” ~ T.S. Eliot ~
I’m sure you’ve heard that if you keep doing the same things that you’ve always done, then you should expect to keep getting what you’ve always gotten. That’s easy advice to give, but when you are in the thick of turmoil, it is hard advice to put into action.
It is hard to let go of the familiar. It doesn’t matter if the familiar is painful or if it is making you miserable. Sometimes it feels like being comfortably miserable is better than being filled with the overwhelming fear associated with change.
Change should not be feared. Remaining the same DOES feel secure, but it won’t provide you with any growth opportunities.
Let go of the present.
Let go of the things that are known.
Let go of expectations.
Let go of the past.
“Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.” ~ Ann Landers ~
Letting go doesn’t mean that you are giving up or that you don’t care anymore. It means that you understand that in order to progress, you must change circumstances. You also have learned that the only person you can control is yourself. No matter how much you want another person’s life or condition to change, you can’t make it happen for them. Each person must change themselves in order for it to be a real change. Any other superficial change is merely temporary.
One time I went to the store and bought a dozen large helium filled balloons. Each balloon had a long string on it and the store clerk put the whole bunch of floating balloons in a super big plastic bag with the strings all clumped together and hanging out. I held the strings and walked outside the store. The wind was blowing a little bit and the big bag kept bumping me in the head. Then I had the task of trying to get all the balloons into the car and that was not a small feat.
I had to open the large plastic bag and let the balloons float loose into my car.
* * *POP!* * *
One balloon popped and nearly made me leap out of my skin. Because the popping noise startled me, I jumped back and that gave another balloon the opportunity to float out of my car. Since it was filled with helium, within seconds the balloon was well on the way to the moon.
I was quite frustrated. One minute I had twelve balloons and the next minute I only had ten balloons. Things can change fast! One balloon had popped and one balloon was floating farther and farther away.
I could either go back into the store and buy two more balloons or I could settle with what was left…ten very large balloons.
For a moment, let’s think of the balloons as experiences or people. In order for me to get the balloons to their final destination, I had to put them in my car. While trying to control how the balloons were fitting in my car, I had to take them out of the big bag and push them into the back and front seat areas. The balloons were too full to be shaped and stuffed into the unusual shaped places in the car. One balloon couldn’t take the pressure of being scrunched in my car and so it popped. The other balloon just floated right out of the car because it was a bit crowded.
Sometimes when you rearrange your life, you will have to let go of people because they no longer want to be with you. They may make an angry and loud exit, so you are left with a whole bunch of feelings that are painful and/or uncomfortable. At other times, people may quietly float out out of your life, but it may still cause you to feel just as many miserable emotions.
The mind has a tendency to run away with unhealthy thoughts if you allow it to have full rein…
“Should I have pushed the balloon so hard?”
“Should I have tried to change the shape of the balloon in order to make it fit in the car?”
“Was I not taking my time and had I become impatient?”
“Obviously it must have been all my fault that the balloon popped” even though I wouldn’t even entertain the idea that it could have easily just been a weakness in the balloon that led to its demise.
Those thoughts could go around and around my head for so long that it could have actually ruined the party because I would have been dwelling on the past…what could have been or what I felt should have been.
Well, hard as you may try, there’s no changing the past, so you really need to just accept it, learn from it and move on from it.
Go back up to the first quote by T.S. Eliot. He said that you must accept the past first and then you will be able to alter your life going forward.
Most of the time acceptance requires forgiveness.
I’ve learned that sometimes it is easier to forgive someone when you no longer have them in your life and it is easier to forgive circumstances and experiences the more distant they become in your past.
“Forgiveness means letting go of the past.” ~ Gerald Jampolsky ~
That sounds simple, but, but, but can’t you do something about the past?
You can learn how not to repeat the same mistakes that you made in the past.
You can use all that you learned in the past to create a better present and happier future.
You can relive the good memories from the past.
You can find strength from how you coped with turmoil.
You can’t, however, change the past.
Shakespeare wrote the following for Lady Macbeth in Macbeth, Act 3, scene 2, 10–12:
Using those thoughts which should indeed have died
With them they think on? Things without all remedy
Should be without regard. What’s done is done.
What’s done is done.
When something is finished, over and in your past, that’s what you have to remember. The person, place or thing is finished, over and in your past. When you drag your past into your present you stagnate your growth. You will find familiarity in the comfortable miserableness, but you will not progress or have full happiness and joy.
I hope you have the courage and strength to let go of all the balloons that are holding you back and preventing you from having a very happy life. Don’t let comfortable miserableness fool you into thinking it is happiness.