Human beings are social creatures and we really need one another for support and survival in this world. Back in the day it was called a clan or a tribe, now it’s called community or social networks. Too often in the midst of our relationships one person says or does something that offends another and a spiral of hurt and grievance begins between the two. People get so boiled over with anger inside and make a choice not to connect or make amends with the other because “they don’t deserve it.” What we’re missing in this picture is that this grudge, this boulder of anger we’re carrying within us, is actually hurting us! It comes in the form of tension, irritability, shallow breathing, increased heart rate, and stress. While it may be too difficult to just ‘let it go’ right now, it may be a good idea to begin to see it a different way.
I have seen it now a number of times. “What was the last thing I said to him before he went out the door” she said on the day her boyfriend was killed in a tragic accident. We’re heard a resounding cry of this during 9/11. Why does it take something so severe as death or threat of injury to bring us back to our senses to what is truly most important…our connections. Lying on his deathbed the successful entrepreneur turned to his counselor and said “I had it all wrong. It’s not about the money, it’s about who you love and how you love them.” We could take some lessons from those who are in the last round.
When reflecting on this topic, it makes me think of the people in my own life who are still alive. Life can be so fragile and while at times I can think that we’re all immortal and will live forever, reality informs me that we all come and go in this life. The truth is, we just don’t know when that will be.
In an earlier blog, Ronald Pies, M.D. said, “having problems means being alive”. I’d like to add to that, “having problems with others means they are alive too.” Whether we are struggling with anxiety, depression, addiction, or illness, long before modern psychotherapy was even around, we came to understand that connection and support can be the most healing of all. Sometimes we might hold a grudge or have not spoken to a loved one for quite a while over what seemed like an important dispute. We reactively dug our heels in the ground and decided to not speak to them. Meanwhile, we’re holding the discomfort inside, we’re the ones suffering. Learning to let go of a grudge is not condoning what the other person has done. It is simply saying, I don’t want to hold onto this anymore.
We all have a terminal condition, its called life and we can take the word of those who have lived it a bit more often: “It’s about who you love and how you love them.”
Author Stephen Levine asks us to consider “If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, who would you call and what would you say and why are you waiting?”
The present moment is really all we have, so who do you want to connect with today or this week. Make a list, even if it is only one person. What do you want to say and why are you waiting?
As always, please share your thoughts, comments, and questions below. Your interaction here provides a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.
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From Psych Central's website:
PsychCentral (February 25, 2009)
Last reviewed: 25 Feb 2009