“The world is wrong. You can’t put the past behind you. It’s buried in you; it’s turned your flesh into its own cupboard.” Claudia Rankine
I'm often at odds with how things are and commonly accepted beliefs in this world. I frequently tilt my head to one side, and then to the other, just so I can look at the world from a different angle because I quickly tire of accepting the status quo. Even when things are running smoothly I get that feeling that soon we need to change how we think, or we'll find ourselves standing up to our noses in quicksand. Just like the seasons change we need change and move, and holding on is madness.
For as long as I can remember, I was always the one who challenged a concept or asked that "stupid question", played devil's advocate or who challenged commonly held beliefs. I used to think it was because I'm contrary and difficult; it's been part of who I am for as long as I can remember. I've certainly been told I'm being difficult but I've come think it's just part of having a very inquisitive mind that constantly runs scenarios to find what possible outcomes there are. It's not that I need to have a plan B, or even plans C, D, E, etc. It's just that I like to play with the thought that the possibilities are endless.
That is, the possibilities are endless for everyone but myself. I've always been really good at putting limits on myself but that's perhaps another post.
I don't know if it's just my Facebook feed or if it's really the current trend of thinking this letting go thing. We're supposed to forgive and we're supposed to let go. Actually come to think of it, it's not just Facebook, it's permeated work as well; we're frequently asked to move on when we've been treated unfairly.
Just move on.
Let it go.
And my personal favorite, forgive. Forgive yourself. Forgive others. Forgive a world that seems so unfair.
It's not that I think that you should hold on to bad things that have happened to you for grim death, it's just that I think that sometimes all that rhetoric serves to make us feel like we don't have the right to feel angry or upset. You can't let things go, you can't forgive and you can't move on until you've had your moment of grief or anger, or even perhaps rage. You have to allow yourself to have that or you're just stuffing feelings down deeper, and they will eventually resurface in ways that are far more destructive because you never dealt with them in the first place. It's only after you've done that work that you can start to work on moving on, letting go and forgiving.
I see it a lot at work especially, people being told to move on before they feel they've been heard. It's a controlling and toxic behavior not allowing people to have a voice. It's contrary to being helpful and it's certainly one of the least empathetic options we can offer others. Even if you don't agree with a person's gripe allowing them to move through it, and creating a space for them to do it in if you're a nice person, is an incredibly healing experience. It's only after that experience that they're free again to see that there's a place to move on to that's more attractive than feeling angry, hurt or sad.
But here's the thing, I don't think that we ever truly can let go of things that have had a significant impact on us. The past is there with you whether you like it or not. You can't do a complete memory wipe and you simply won't forget. Things will pop up to remind you and you will inevitably have feelings arise in you that can go back a long way, that are firmly rooted in the past. The memories will live on in you whether they're good or bad.
I think the most destructive thing we do in Western society is not accepting that the so called negative feelings are part and parcel of being human, and that there's nothing wrong with them. We fear their power instead of making friends with them and seeing them for what they really are. Negative emotions and feelings are signs from ourselves that something has happened that we don't like, that we feel a need to protect ourselves from. We rarely allow ourselves to sit with these feelings and emotions to really find out what's going on with us. The having to be positive is suffocating us and is robbing us of a full experience as human beings, and it's making us sick. Staying positive at all costs doesn't protect you from mental health issues like depression and anxiety, it's the root cause of some of them.
Now there's a huge, and I mean huge, difference between allowing negative feeling to emerge, be experienced and to pass through us and wallowing in them for weeks, months or even years. The working through them can take longer if what's happening is significant, and sometimes we require professional help to do it, but we have to allow ourselves to work through them none the less if we can to be healthy human beings. It means that we can incorporate experiences, even ones that have had a negative impact on us, in a much healthier way. Since we can rarely protect ourselves from having experiences in our lives that bring negative emotions, feelings and responses from us, we're better off learning to work with them, and accepting that they're part of life.
Your past will, whether you like it or not, whether it's had a positive or negative effect on you always be part of you. Learn to work with it, learn to accept it and learn to love it, and you've come a long way to be being able to live a more content life.
You, all of you and every single part of you, and everything that's ever happened to you and every experience you've ever had, and the effect they've had on you, deserve to be accepted and honored as being part of you. Every single bit of it is part of the complex and beautiful equation that is you.
I'm just saying.
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