To let something go we have to fully own it first. It’s very tempting to skip this step. We tend to prefer to let things go a.s.a.p. so that we have to deal with it as little as possible. It’s slimy and we just want to throw it back into the pond, that kind of thing.
This is not how things work.
In this post I want to explore a deeper reason why we tend to avoid our pain, one that has nothing to do with the experience itself. Rather, it has to do with how we inteprete “bad things that happen to us”. Depending on our upbringing, personal beliefs and cultural surroundings, we may have been exposed to any or all of the following “traps” on the path of letting go. These are all painful misinterpretations of why “bad things happen” that make letting go nearly impossible. There are many people preaching these beliefs, so even if we think we’re not affected by them, they may still have a bigger grip on us than we’d like to admit. There are many variations of these beliefs, yet what they all share it that they are simplistic versions of complex life theories. The fact that they are downsized and oversimplified just means that they have been able to go viral much better than the more truthful philosophies from which they originated.
If we go down the inner-fundamentalist track, then we’ll feel guilty, make everything our fault and get stuck that way. This can show up as feeling that we have to apologize all the time for who we are and what we do. We feel like we have to ask for forgiveness for every little mistake we make. There is a deep belief here that bad things happen to us because we are not good enough. It seems like God is chronically upset about our bad behaviour and looking for ways to “correct” us through disciplinary and painful measures. In this perspective we are all sinners, the fact that we are human makes us wrong-by-nature.
Law of Attraction -the simple version
If we go the “modern spiritual route” then guilt-tripping can easily happen too. Unfortunately, a lot of “law of attraction” material is just a rehashing of fundamentalist “guilt thinking”: that crap happened because you had too many negative thoughts, shame on you! Since many of us are already imprinted with stories about how Adam and Eve got kicked out of paradise (you don’t need to believe it to be impacted by that big cultural building block!) something inside of us will tend to nod it’s head. Yep, we’re doomed, that “makes sense”!
Karma Karma Karma Karma Karma Chameleon
Karma can be another one of those “shame on you” belief-systems. “You had bad things happen to you because you deserved it, you did the same to someone else in a past life!!!”. Ah, if only things were that simple. With simplistic karma-thinking, it’s tempting to just surrender to your fate…and give up. It also gives us plenty of fodder to judge others and assume that, when tragedy befalls us, we’re being punished. Saying that “someone deserves their fate” has nothing to do with spirituality and everything to do with dictatorship. It stimulates victimhood. It stops people from looking for solutions.
The concept of ‘soul-decisions’ is another place we can get stuck. If we “choose” our own life experiences before incarnating, then we don’t have the “right” to feel hurt, do we? Plus, what kind of stupid person are we to make ourself suffer so much?? We must really hate ourself! Or maybe our soul knows something important about us that we’ve forgotten, like how we don’t really deserve good things!
What it all boils down to is guilt, guilt, guilt and more guilt. In the context of letting go, guilt is the sticky tape that keeps us completely stuck. When we believe in the guilt, we’ll actually find ways to punish ourselves. Nothing good ever came of that.
Let’s Do Some Rewiring On That, Shall We?
Soul Decision Here’s the thing, whatever did or didn’t happen before birth, it’s near impossible to imagine what that space of decision-making would truly be like. After all, right now, we’re in the middle of living our life! If the soul-decision perspective calls to you, then try this on for size: trust that there is a purpose behind current events. Don’t assume that you know all that there is to know about them or that they were “perfectly orchestrated”. We do have free will and so do the people in our lives. We are responsible for our actions here and now regardless of what may or may not have been “decided upon” beforehand. This also means we have some decision power and the ability to change the course of our life, no matter how “set in stone” it may seem to be.
Law of Attraction The missing piece in a lot of law of attraction material is that most of our thoughts are actually subconscious. There is no way you can “control” those thoughts. Trying to override your mind with positive stuff furthermore has little effect. It’s like planting a rosebush on top of a big pile of trash. It will still smell! There IS a way to “change” our thinking, yet this has little to do with force and control and everything to do with becoming aware of what we are actually thinking. Forcing yourself to have positive thoughts is a sure-fire way to push your deeper, more powerful thoughts completely out of your awareness. It’s like throwing a rug over the burglars in the corner of your living room and telling yourself they’re not there.
Karma – in the sense of “things balancing themselves out” can be a helpful and supportive idea. It can give us peace, knowing that somehow, in some big galactic way, justice is at work. Let’s leave it at that. Let’s not assume that we can -from the perspective of being human- relate to the bigger perspective of how and why things balance each other out. That’s like trying to guess what you’ll be thinking 30 years from now. You’re in a different place right now, there’s no way to know for sure what the “bigger picture” is. That’s ok.
The inner-fundamentalist. There is really only one way out of this philosophy: doubt. Let’s doubt the truth of our apparently inherent insufficiency, just for a minute. Really, how does anyone claim to “know” this anyway? The “word of God” was written down by flesh-and-blood humans. It was edited and censored multiple times. There are different versions of “the truth” out there. Let that be enough to create some doubt as to the literal truth of scripture. Then wonder, what kind of world does the assumption of “inherent badness” create? What do you set out to do when you believe everyone is a sinner? It’s not My Little Pony paradise, that’s for sure. Now what happens when you assume that perhaps, people are inherently good? That no mattter how much of a mess we may make of things, we are always trying to do good somehow? Both positions can be logically supported, none can be logically proven. What we can do is look at the kinds of worlds either assumption tends to build. Then choose.
Honouring Our Own Experiences
The reality is complex and doesn’t lend itself well to catchy slogans or Facebook posters. There IS a sense in which the things that show up in our life tell us something about ourself but no-big-mystical-body is out to blame anyone here. There is an unfolding of experiences and of awareness going on. We don’t truly “know” anything until we’ve gone through it ourselves. Experiences are a way to acquire a deep knowing about how things work. This includes experiencing how pain and suffering and victimhood work and how they affect us.
We are free to change our lot in life, yet to do so requires a thorough exploration of our experiences, our true feelings, our deeply held beliefs, our patterns etc.
One of the reasons that superficial interpretations of deep and complex philosophies are so popular, is because they allow us to circumvent the real issue. “Bad stuff happens because…” They promise a shortcut. Much like the way certain “dream interpretation books” give you a handy reference list of “what things mean”.
In the end, these are all just nifty rationalisations by which we try to avoid the one thing that will help us get in touch with the meaning of our pain. That one thing is to allow ourselves to feel it.
Nobody else can fully explain to you why you have your particular painful experience. Only you can do this. You do this not by “figuring it out” but by allowing the experience to affect you. Experiences have the power to change us, to show us where some of our assumptions about life proved faulty. Experiences allow us to align with our true self more fully. Experiences can force us to strip away some of the things we held dear, and that were blocking us from moving forward. Experiences can do all that for us, when we let them.