Posts Tagged ‘letting go of old ways’

Drowning in Unhappiness: A Re-booter Rescue

January 17, 2013

To further my point about happiness being a choice (the topic of my most recent post), let us examine the converse case study: people who make themselves unhappy. Like you, I can think of a number of examples of people who have done this in the past or do so on a regular basis—and I am not excluding myself from this group. Suffering from prolonged bouts of disappointment, emotional hurt, or anger is a conscious choice—please note the use of the adjective “prolonged.”

Before reading any further, I’d like you to reflect for a moment on people you’ve come across in your life (including yourself) who make themselves unhappy for one reason or another.

Now that you have a few relatable examples in mind, I want you to consider the following: was it pleasant to spend extended periods of time with these folks? Did you find that they complained about the same things over and over? As you were listening to their harangue or their woe-is-me soliloquy did a fleeting thought creep into your head that, maybe, things really weren’t as bad as all that? Maybe it was time they moved on from their grousing? Or, even, that perhaps these people were looking to be insulted or to have their feelings hurt when it wasn’t the intent of the accused parties to cause offense? Have you ever drawn from this well, yourself?

A huge part of re-booting one’s life involves letting go of old ways of doing or thinking about things that no longer serve us. This is hard work! Very hard, but that’s what makes it so worthwhile. Accomplishing such goals is an act of determination: you elect to tackle this project; you work hard at making progress; and, if sufficiently diligent, you arrive at the summit. All of this involves conscious choice; it doesn’t happen by accident.

It takes a certain amount of determination to hold on to old injuries, resentments, or perspectives. To make it easier, I’ll provide a few examples: I must get married to prove to the world I am worthy. Loving families behave a certain way. I’ve done so much for them and this is my repayment? How could she betray me like that? The only worthwhile professions are XYZ. Because you didn’t do what I would’ve done, you are a lesser person. Do any of these refrains sound familiar to you? Do they reflect similar themes to whatever unhappiness Bad Mood Betty or Bill is warbling? I bet you could come up with other stanzas, as well.

As re-booters, we recognize that none of these perspectives were handed down on stone tablets as TRUTH. We’ve seen the unnecessary happiness people create and put themselves through as a result of hanging onto these beliefs. It requires courage and concerted effort to let go of them—what will fill the gaping hole that this anger once occupied?

Time does heal wounds—as long as we aren’t continually picking at the scab, encouraging the pain to resurrect itself. How many people can you think of who prefer, actively prefer, to hold onto their anger, grief, or what have you? This is a choice, dear readers. These people are choosing to identify more closely with their pain than allowing the scars to fade.

Do you know what a terrible position I’d be in right now if I permitted myself to nurse my old grudges and disillusionments? I won’t pretend that there isn’t a highly seductive factor that often whispers to me when I am feeling low, beckoning me to return and stir up those embers of bitterness, but I choose to fight this because I know that grasping onto old hurts is poison. It infects your body, your mind, and your soul.

The reason I am saying all this is to emphasize to you just how much of your experience of life is a conscious decision. We’ve all been hurt and disappointed; these things do take time to recover from—but you can recover. Those sad souls who prefer to identify with their hurts are making a choice. As re-booters, this is a stark reality that you need to keep in mind when assessing your own life or interacting with others who moan a lot. The good news is that because you get to steer your ship, you can find your way out of an eddy of unhappiness, and maybe even throw a life preserver to someone who’s drowning in their own misery.


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