Two Buddhist monks return to their monastery after the rains. They reach a swollen river and in front of them is a beautiful woman in a delicate silk kimono, distressed because she is unable to cross the river by herself.
The older monk scoops her up, carries her safely to the other side and the two monks continue on their way in silence. Later, as themonks reach their destination, the younger monk having fumed for the last 5 hours finally bursts out, “How could you do
We’re not allowed to touch a woman!”
The older monk, surprised, replies, “I put her down 5 hours ago, but you are
still carrying her with you.”
Holding on to pain doesn’t fix anything. Replaying the past over and over again doesn’t change it, and wishing things were different doesn’t make it so. In some cases, especially when it comes to the past, all you can do is accept whatever it is you’re holding on to and then let it go.
That’s how everything changes. You have to let go of what is hurting you, even if it feels almost impossible. Deciding to hold on to the past will hold you back from creating a strong sense of self — a self that isn’t defined by your past, but rather by who you want to be.
Oddly enough, painful feelings can be comfortable, especially if they’re all you know. Some people have trouble letting go of their pain or other unpleasant emotions about their past, because they think those feelings are part of their identity. In some ways, they may not know who they are without their pain.
This makes it impossible for them to let go.
- As with the younger monk in the story, the things we hold onto (eg. that we feel angry, hurt, guilty about) cloud our mind and prevent us from fully enjoying life. The irony is that whatever you’re holding onto, it’s probably bothering you much more than it does anyone else.
- Letting go usually involves some form of forgiveness or acceptance – whether it’s of yourself,
someone else, a situation or even an unknown third party.
- Letting go doesn’t mean we condone a situation or behavior, it’s about lightening OUR load. When we let go of whatever is bothering us we set ourselves free – and get to reclaim that energy for ourselves.
- You don’t need to know HOW to let go, you just need to be WILLING. And while you can’t change the past, you can learn from it and change how you feel going forwards.
- Remember – whatever you find hardest to let go of is probably what you need to let go of the most…
Letting go is not as hard as it may seem. Bad things happen, sure, but you cannot change the past, so why continue to perpetuate it? The key to letting go of a relationship or a painful past experience is that you have to face what has happened, accept that you can’t change it and then move on.
Once you’re able to move on and close old doors, inevitably new doors will open up, better opportunities will arise and, most of all, you’ll have a better story that moves you forward, instead of holding you back. Start writing your new story today.