“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”
Life is a full contact sport. You don’t make it through without getting hit (leveled?) every once in a while. There is this illusion that, if I only had enough money, or if I only had the right spouse, or friends, or car or job, that I would be OK. Nothing bad will happen to me. And of course that’s not true, yet we continue to want to believe. We want to be insulated from life, and not fully live it or experience it.
In one of my previous companies I got into a disagreement (fight) on the future and direction of the company, because what we were doing was just not working. (We were failing and that’s another story for another time) The three of us, all equal founders, knew that we had to make changes. I wanted to go in one direction, and the other two wanted to go in another. We just couldn’t agree and that led to months of conflict and an uncomfortable environment. The situation eventually resolved itself when they asked me to leave. Talk about a blow to my ego. The injustice of it all! How could they do that to ME! How could that happen to ME? I was, after all, the brains and energy of the company. Or so I repeatedly told myself, as I cursed their names.
Maybe you’ve gone through something similar? Maybe you were fired or downsized. Maybe someone left you. Maybe a friend betrayed you. I’ve experienced all those things and they all really sucked. It’s like taking a punch to the stomach and they make you resentful. Why isn’t this person doing and saying what I want them to? Don’t they know things would be so much better if they would just do and say what I want them to?
And there’s the problem. Just like you, just like me, other people have their own motivations, fears, hopes, dreams that have absolutely nothing to do with us. Shocking, right? We’re not the center of the universe. It’s sometimes hard to see that, because we get wrapped up in our own drama, our own narrative. The world revolves around us, until it doesn’t.
When we get hurt, we get angry, resentful and want some sort of revenge for this slight. What I’ve come to see is that anger and resentment are wounds from living. We get hurt, sometimes really badly, we are wounded and we need to heal, body, mind and spirit. Holding onto that rage, and seeking revenge is like picking at the wound. Sometimes hat feels good. It agitates. We just want to feel something, anything. But the healing can’t start until we stop. We’re only prolonging the pain and delaying our healing process.
Leave the wound alone. Even if you think it feels good, leave it alone. You’ll feel pain. It hurts. You won’t forget it’s there. But don’t give it your attention. Don’t feed it. You will start to heal, over time, little by little. And then, eventually, a scar will form over the wound. Life is full of scars. Scars are the wisdom that comes with experience of living.
I was asked to leave a company I helped found. I was angry but I’m over it. The truth is that I’ve founded other companies where I asked my co-founders to leave. Now I know how they felt. I wonder if they still resent me? I hope not. I’d hate to think they would hold onto that anger. I hope they’ve healed and moved on.
Is there anger or resentment you’re holding onto? Try letting it go, just for today. Put your attention elsewhere. Give your love to someone. And tomorrow…keep going. Keep healing, and keep living.
Thanks for joining me on this journey. It wouldn’t be the same without you.