A lot of our suffering is caused by things that have happened in our past and our unwillingness or inability to let it go.
The initial action that we are angry, frustrated ,outraged or upset by may have inky happened once but we replay it in our heads time and time again getting worked up, feeling all kinds of negative emotions and causing ourselves suffering.
I'll say that again. Causing ourselves suffering.
You see no one else can make us feel any kind of emotion. We choose to feel that way because of our conditioning and the stories that we tell ourselves about how life should be.
So how does that work, I can hear you say. OK so the past has happened and there is absolutely nothing that you can do to change any of it.
If you feel that you behaved badly in a situation, then you can apologise but you can't undo what you did and you can't make the other person accept your apology or forgive you.
By the same token, if you feel that someone owes you an apology, you can ask them for it but you can't make them apologise and even if they do, it won't change what they did.
So what can you do to begin letting go of unhelpful and limiting beliefs?
1. Accept what happened- it's done and nothing can undo it.
2. Look at what you can learn from the situation so that you don't have to experience something similar again.
3. Try to accept that we are all human beings doing the best we can with the skills that we have and sometimes what other people do may cause us pain but it's often not done deliberately or consciously.
4. Examine and challenge you emotions and the beliefs that you have surrounding the issue so that you can make peace with it and start to let it go.
Another thing that can cause us to suffer is thinking that things should be different to how they are.
For example. Someone speaks to us rudely and we are hurt and outraged. They shouldn't speak to me like that we think. Who do they think they are, etc, etc
We then spend our time feeling righteous and trying to get everyone else to agree that they shouldn't speak to us like that.
When people do agree, we might feel slightly better about the situation but nothing has actually changed. We just feel that we are justified in being angry or upset and potentially taking additional actions.
The reality of the situation is that regardless of what you and your friends and family think, they were rude to you and you have to choose how to respond to that.
Look at how much time and energy you could have saved if you just went from being outraged to stepping back and planning a response as opposed to being triggered and needing to be proven right by your peers.
So that all sounds very civilised but how do we actually do this?
Well number one. We have to be mindful. When we are monitoring our thoughts and behaviours it's easier to work out which ones are causing us pain. Once we have identified it, brought it into the present moment by accepting it as out thought or emotion and then challenging it to
see if it's true or if it's a belief conditioned in us by someone else then we can begin to change it or let it go.
Another strategy would be to use what Byron Katie describes and the three types of business. Your business , which involves everything that you think, feel believe and do.
Their business, which is what everyone else thinks , feels ,believes and does and God's business and for this you can apply your figurehead of choice but essentially everything else, war , famine ,life , death, weather etc. She says that you are only unhappy when you are messing about in someone else's business.For example, she shouldn't do this, they shouldn't be sick, it shouldn't flood. The reality of the situation is that these things are happening and you have no right to try and change someone else. You don't know their story or what experiences they need to have to grow and you can't make people do anything anyway.
What you can do is accept what is happening, learn from it and work out the best way to respond to it without causing suffering.once dealt with, you can let it go.
It's the same with the pain you have been holding onto from the past. Guilt and blame will not change anything. You will still need to address the root cause before you can move on. Instead of blame someone else for what happened, take responsibility for your part in the situation. And by that I mean, challenge the expectation you have of the issue and ask yourself if it's fair and reasonable. If you constantly expect a person to behave in a way that they are just not capable of or a situation to be anything other than it is then your expectation is the cause of your suffering and you will constantly be disappointed. Instead lower your expectations and accept the person or situation for what it is, with all their imperfections and let the outrage and pain go.
The expression what you focus on you create is so true. When you are focusing on pain and suffering, more pain and suffering will be attracted into your life.
Have the courage to challenge your beliefs, the compassion to accept people as they are without wanting to change them and the wisdom to know when to ask for help and free yourself from all that exhausting emotion. In doing so, you will create space for new, positive people and opportunities to come into your life.
As Elsa says let it go!