letting go

Last week a friend shared with me that she had finally terminated a thirty plus year friendship because it had become so toxic.  While she was able to recognize the wisdom of “letting go” after trying to be a supportive friend for so many years, she had to acknowledge that her friend thrived in “continual and destructive emotional processing.” Her friend was unable to let go of issues and demons in her life; she chose years of talk therapy and constant rehashing of things that prevented her from being able to move forward as a psychologically healthy person. Constant writing and verbalizing about the negatives just continued to empower those influences in her life.

My friend’s decision resonated with me. It was sad to see her struggle in the past with the negativity to which her friend constantly subjected her.  I was glad when she decided to let go so that this relationship could no longer be such a negative influence in her life. 

This morning when I was going through some papers I’d saved, I came across a piece authored by Oprah as part of her “I Know This For Sure” series.  How synchronic, I thought, thinking of my friend and her newly found release. It’s such a wonderful personal reflection and so well written I thought it was worth sharing. 

by Oprah Winfrey

I’ve mastered the art of letting go so well, I forget to be angry. Ask anyone who really knows me, and they will confirm I don’t hold grudges very long.

I learn the lesson, yes (this person cannot be trusted – or is toxic, dangerous, rude, whatever), but the grinding replay of what was done or said, looping over and over in my head, I let go.

For me, it comes from years of practice. And from listening, over the decades, to thousands of stories from people who couldn’t release the past and got stuck in it. For sure, that’s one of the great tragedies of human behavior I’ve witnessed: seeing grown men and women who can’t stop playing the mind tape from an event that happened days, weeks, sometimes years ago.

What a loss of precious time and energy, being a prisoner by your own hand, laden with the burdens of the past.

Eckhart Tolle speaks beautifully of this in his book A NEW EARTH, when he shared the story of two Zen monks.

Tanzan and Ekido were walking along a country road that had become extremely muddy after heavy rains. Near a village, they came upon a young woman who was trying to cross the road, but the mud was so deep, it would have ruined the silk kimono she was wearing. Tanzan at once picked her up and carried her to the other side.

The monks walked on in silence. Five hours later, as they were approaching the lodging temple, Ekido couldn’t restrain himself any longer. “Why did you carry that girl across the road?” he asked. “We monks are not supposed to do things like that.”

“I put the girl down hours ago,” said Tanzan. “Are you still carrying her?”

               That’s reality for so many people. Maybe you’re one of them, holding on to what happened or what you think should have happened.

               But I ask you: For what purpose? To feel right? Righteous? Justified? Validated?

               Proving I was right used to be a major character flaw. I had to do some conscious work to change it.

               A single question got me started: Do you want to be right, or do you want peace? Those eleven words released me years ago and put me on the path to freedom.

               Whatever your reason for holding on to resentments, I know this for sure: There is none worth the price you pay in lost time. Time you could have given yourself to love and live more fully. Time you can never make up.

               The time is NOW. Let go! ��r