Hurt and anger are normal emotions. They often are an indication that something is not sitting right with your needs, beliefs, or value system. They are often a common response to a real or perceived wrong done to you.
An optimal response to managing these emotions is to let them go once you resolve the issue/conflict.
The challenge may come when people are unable to resolve the conflict or situation that generated the feelings. The inability to work through a conflict either because the other party has walled you out, or created an unsafe situation to further the conversation, creates an impasse that leaves people with a sense of being unfinished and a great deal of emotions without a place to release them.
Since our brain prefers things to be wrapped up in neat little packages, it is not unusual to see unresolved emotions become a primary preoccupation that leads to rumination. Ruminating means replaying a situation or conversation and imagining saying or doing things differently, over and again, to seek an outcome that would bring us resolution. However, since it is a one-sided internal conversation, rumination rarely brings relief. If anything, it is more like turning the knife in the wound. Yet, there is something compelling about rumination and it can fool us to think that the more we do it the greater our chance to feel better will be. In effect, rumination is a rabbit hole we get deeper into with fewer and fewer chances to be the winner. At some point, it becomes important to appreciate that we feed emotions, good and bad, and it is our relationship with that emotion that we keep entertaining.
Unresolved feelings and rumination can linger for days, months, and even years. Living in this emotional trap may lead to:
- problems with our physical health such as poor sleep and high blood pressure
- depression and/or anxiety, and a loss of interest in our usual pursuits
- irritability with those around us — our significant other, our children, work colleagues, and friends
- arguments and damaged relationships with those we care about
- the adoption of poor coping mechanisms, such as alcohol abuse or over-eating
Unresolved feelings and rumination can lead to a poorer quality of life as thoughts are dominated by a negative outlook and thought pattern about past, present and even future events.
So, what can we do to relieve ourselves of a festering and ruminating state of mind?
The power of letting go
One of the most effective ways to free yourself from unresolved feelings and situations is to find your way toward letting go.
Letting go may mean that you come to accept that undesirable situations and circumstances that were out of your control significantly impacted your life trajectory. It may require finding a new path and adapting your life plan. It is about not resisting the situation anymore and instead stepping into acceptance and action. As we do so, the process of creating choices and options in our life creates a sense of personal empowerment. It creates an opportunity to choose to no longer be held prisoner to an emotion and a story that is haunting you.
Importantly, letting go does not necessarily mean forgiving, forgetting, or excusing the harm done to you. Nor does it mean attempting to reconcile with the person or people responsible. However, choosing to let go can bring a huge sense of peace internally, and a feeling that the person or persons who harmed you, and the harm itself, have lost their grip on you.
The importance of mindfulness
Deciding to let go and move forward is not easy. It takes a mental commitment to being free of the burden of painful feelings such as hurt, anger and resentment, and changing your thought pattern and inner dialogue. Of course, we may occasionally find ourselves reminded of the hurt suffered. When this happens, it’s important to stop and recognize the moment and address it. This process of recognition is called mindfulness. By being mindful, we can take better control of our emotions and quell the negative thinking that the memory evokes. This stops us from going down the old rabbit hole of rumination. Mindfulness is an important life skill that can benefit us in many ways, not just in terms of helping us heal from a past wrong, but also in creating a vision of the future and managing obstacles as we set course toward a new goal.
Ultimately, we have to see the hurt for what it is — a past event. How we handle that is everything. We can either choose to allow it to spoil our present and future indefinitely, or we can take steps to deal with it and put it away. Letting go has been described by some as similar to a re-birth when they reclaimed their sense of personal choice and power as it opens the door for new life opportunities. Therefore, however stuck and embroiled you may be feeling now, there is a way forward — that you can practice — to be free.
If you need help dealing with this challenge, you are not alone, we can help. Please contact us at 905.703.0003 for an appointment.