Have you ever been told to just “let something go?” Maybe it’s something you tell yourself every time you get upset. In our “feelings make me uncomfortable” society, “let it go” usually means “stuff it down.”
When we do this, the rage simply festers inside. Why? Because the feeling is (1) unaccepted, (2) unacknowledged, and (3) unresolved.
To deny how we feel is to deny ourselves and our own experience.
The solution? Accept how you feel. Acknowledge its presence. Once we do this, we can choose whether to “let it go” or bring it up to the person who disregarded or disrespected us. I’ve found it important, though, to ask myself the question: Why do I want to tell them how I feel? Is it because I am seeking their acknowledgement or apology? Do I want to give them an opportunity to correct their mistake or behavior? Or is it simply to be vindictive and hurtful in return?
The ultimate question I ask myself is, “What am I seeking?” “Is this a behavior I can accept or not?” “Will I tolerate it if the other person refuses to acknowledge their actions?” “How will I respond?” Therein lies our boundary or, in other words, our limit. Only we can decide our own limit. No one else can choose it for us.
This is where the resistance often comes in (which may prohibit even our own acknowledgment of our own pain): We fear the consequence of our own boundary. What if the other person refuses to honor it? What if they reject me? What if they leave me? What if they don’t change? What if it means I have to leave them, and I’m not ready to end the relationship?
Fears encircle us. The “what ifs” feel overwhelming. Better to take no action at all. Better to simply pretend I don’t care. I’m not hurt. It’s all okay. Right?
Wrong. To do so enables the fear. We also forget we set our own boundary. We choose when enough is enough. We are in control of ourselves.
What if the other rejects us, or abandons the relationship? Isn’t it better, we tell ourselves, to just let it go and “keep the peace”?
For whose sake? Theirs or yours?
If “keeping the peace” requires us to mute ourselves, we actually start a war within. The fire rages, and the inner conflict begins. There might be perceived harmony in the relationship, but it comes at the expense of your own inner peace. It necessitates leaving yourself behind in order to put the other’s needs and comfort above your own.
I’m not talking about small things that aren’t done the way we like them (like washing dishes “the right way”). I’m talking about feelings that arise from being overlooked, disrespected, unheard. If we push these feelings down without fully acknowledging or addressing them, we end up abandoning ourselves for the sake of the relationship (family, friend or partner).
We are always in choice, no matter the situation. It’s up to us to remember this power and stop giving it away.
In so doing, we stop seeking love and approval from another and give it to ourselves.
P.S. Clearly, feelings – and how we respond to them – is a deep, somewhat complicated, realm. If you desire help navigating what comes up for you, don’t hesitate to reach out. I have a holiday gift offer of 5 private sessions for only $55 each. Click here for more information.
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