Traverse City Record-Eagle

Life

June 20, 2014

Mental Wellness: When it's time to let go

We’ve been gutting our basement to finish it. My hope is that it is not a long, drawn out project. But at our pace, I hope to have it done before retirement.

The hardest part is getting rid of boxes of things I haven’t opened since college. Over and over I say to myself, “I can’t get rid of that!” when I opened boxes. It’s so frustrating!

Beyond boxes, we all have boxes we carry around with us. It could be what someone said in eighth grade. Maybe it’s an ex-spouse’s words that make us gun shy from another relationship. Maybe it is a comment our parents once said. We all have to let go of something. Where do we start?

Put it in perspective

If a sixth grader came up to me and said, “Your shoes are stupid,” I’d probably laugh inside and move on. Yet, in sixth grade, those words would be hurtful from a peer. When we gain perspective on how hurt was usually given by hurting people, we see that it usually had nothing to do with us. That jerk in high school would have been a jerk whether you were there or not. That spouse probably had their own boxes and you were the most convenient target.

Who are you hurting?

Often when I work with someone in counseling, they want to confront a parent, friend, or family member about a past hurt. Many times those individuals don’t remember saying or doing the hurtful thing. Yet, for years, that person has held contempt, hurt, and anger toward that person. Who was really being hurt?

When we carry emotional boxes, we hurt ourselves, not the person that hurt us. We are only furthering the suffering by not letting go.

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