Frustrated Mother and DaughterI suspect you’re familiar with a similar situation (so do insert or delete the appropriate word or phrase to complete the sentence):

They’ve said something/done something/not done something, again.

They were thoughtless/hurtful/unappreciative/should have known better.

You feel hurt/used/undervalued/taken-for-granted, yet again…

And now it’s your turn, no, not to retaliate, but to feel hurt/aggrieved/angry/wronged, at least until they notice/say thank you/say sorry properly.

Does this sound familiar to you?

I’ve had the unusual experience of watching myself play this scenario on a couple of occasions recently, once for something significant, an explicit request that seemed to be ignored, and once, God forgive me, when a pan used for cooking porridge was carelessly thrown into the sink and left, obviously waiting for me to clear it up.

With hindsight this last event was so trivial as to be laughable but, like so many situations, didn’t feel trivial at the time. It’s simplicity provided the lens through which the process became so apparent.

I had the experience of feeling wronged at the same time as, with a little curious detachment, watching myself feel wronged.

The subjective me wondered just how long it would take before ‘they’ noticed I’d cleaned up their pan while the objective me wondered just how long was I going to wait before I decided to let go of the hurt and simply get over it?

I could clearly see that yes, maybe a small wrong had been done but mostly in my head. There had been no real obligation, except through my willingness or collusion to clear up said mucky pan.  Yet I was feeling both wronged as they should have known better and self-righteous as I did the right thing.

And, as ‘they’ were totally unaware of their sin I knew no apology or thanks would ever arrive. I found myself in the strange situation of asking myself “So just what would it take for me to decide to let go of these feelings and move on?”

And in this watching of myself I could see all feelings for what they are. The scientist in me knows they have a life in biochemical messengers but their source is in my own thoughts, thoughts that come and go, ebb and flow until I choose to hold onto one, focus on it, invest it with energy and make it or at least allow it to grow.

And I saw clearly that I had a choice. I could continue to feel pained or wronged for as long as I wished.

I could wait until some significant but unconscious landmark was passed (probably involving a subjective measures of enough time or even enough misery) until at some point, I’d let the feeling go and get back to normal.

So why not let go now?

Get over it and get back to normal without putting anybody through the misery of waiting for my forgiveness, most of all me.

Are uncomfortable feelings really that simple to deal with?

Feelings, yes, are real, but they don’t have to be lasting and they certainly don’t have to determine our behaviour. As soon as we’re ready we can let them go, throw them back into the sea of subjectivity and get on with the rest of our lives.

Whether you’re feeling anger or disappointment, frustration or even suicidal, remember, they are just feelings. Our feelings have messages that we do well to listen to, but they are not necessarily good instructions for us to act upon.

So, if the feelings you are experiencing are not positively pleasurable, maybe you could also choose to say goodbye to them or at least choose to let go and let them pass by sooner rather than later!

If you’d like a little help learning to let go or to change the way you feel, just drop me a line.

Do take a moment to share what you’re ready to let go of by leaving a comment below.