22 July 2011

Think about it.

At some point in our lives, all of us experience the struggle of letting go. We tend to cling to old habits or resentments that make our progress forward difficult or even impossible. When we encounter impasses in our life, we summon our old stubbornness and pride and hopelessly thrash about. Fighting our defects means living from a “me” instead of “we” perspective. Old habits die slowly. We experience many old feelings of shame and remorse over past binges, as well as regrets about failed relationships. These feelings haunt us with an intensity we hadn’t known while we were medicating our feelings.

When we are confronted with unpleasant feelings and the necessity to change, we may fall back on our deepest instinct – we fight. Whether the problem is to move on after a relationship ends, we cannot change as long as we struggle.

Change is frightening. The past may have been miserable, but at least it was familiar. We become comfortable with old habits and thought patterns which keep us from growing. Our negative thoughts can snowball and, at times consume us. Negative thinking separates us from a sense of belonging, suffocates our hope and prevents us from gaining true happiness. Negativity has been a part of our lives for so many years, we need a great deal of practice to develop positive views.

If we pause in the midst of our struggles and worries, we can give ourselves time to let a new realisation sink in; we don’t have to fight anymore. We have another choice: we can surrender. Rather than manipulating situations, we can surrender control. Surrender is essentially an act of trust. When we let go, we can trust events to unfold on their own. Trust gives us a sense of acceptance, and through acceptance we find serenity.

Paradoxically, surrender is not the same as giving up. Surrender means exchanging “me” for “we”; letting go.

Many of us cling to old habits and problems, even though we realise they cause more harm than good. Deep in our hearts we feel alone in the world. We should share our strengths, experiences and hopes. Listening to suggestions would be appropriate, instead of dismissing ideas that differed from ours. Gaining a sense of connection with others helps build a spiritual foundation that will sustain us in times of trouble.

It may be easy to slip into old ways of thinking during times of stress and look for impulsive, desperate or easy solutions. We need to remember we now have more options than we had previously thought imaginable. We are humans, with all the freedom which that brings. When we are confronted with a problem, we feel afraid; but by cultivating a positive attitude of faith and hope we can put our problems in perspective.

Times of pain are always opportunities for growth. We don’t need to solve all our problems in a day, we don’t have to solve all our problems by ourselves. All we need to do is reach upon ourselves.

Patterns of being overly critical and controlling usually means we are avoiding taking a good look at ourselves. We may be ignoring a character defect. It’s easier to blame our problems on someone else. When we let go of our efforts to change other people, we take responsibility for our own growth and change. We can turn things around by realising we are not the center of the universe. We are each separate and unique.

Isolation is another warning that tells us to let go. We often isolate ourselves when we feel secretly ashamed about a problem. We may be in an abusive or overly dependent relationship. We should begin by being honest with ourselves and others, instead of telling them everything is fine. We need to be gentle with ourselves and patient with others.

The pain of personal growth is part of the human experience. While going through painful periods, we can be good to ourselves.

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