Tiny Wisdom: Letting Go of Painful Memories

“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” ~Unknown

Recently, I’ve been listening to a guided healing meditation I found online. I searched for it because I sensed something was wrong with my body, a couple weeks before a doctor confirmed it.

I didn’t expect it would bring up old wounds, but it has. There’s one part where the soothing voice instructs the listener to think back to the confidence of childhood. When I hear this, it reminds me that I wasn’t confident then, and that many painful events chipped away at my self-esteem.

At this point in the meditation, I usually shift my thoughts to a moment when I felt self-assured performing onstage, but yesterday something different happened. Instead, I cried. And shook. And shivered. Right then, it all came back–anger, shame, and a sense of powerlessness.

I was surprised to feel those raw emotions, after so many years of healing and forgiving. It reminded me that letting go truly is a journey, not a one-time choice.

A while back, in an interview, someone asked me if I think letting go is easy. I think she was surprised when I said, “No.” In theory, it is. Just like you would simply drop your arms and release something heavy you’re holding onto, letting go feels freeing.

The hard part is that we often need to let go over and over again. It isn’t like pulling off a band-aid. Old wounds have a way of resurfacing as we stumble, learn, and grow.

This doesn’t make us weak. It makes us human. We don’t need to let go of anything forever. We just need to learn what it means to let go in a moment, and then remember what that looks and feels like to do it again when necessary.

It may mean practicing mindfulness, or reminding yourself that it wasn’t your fault, or revisiting what you learned through the experience. What matters isn’t that we find letting go to be easy; it’s that we find it to be possible.

Today if you find yourself clinging to a painful memory, ask yourself: How can I focus on healing in the present, instead of living in the past?

Image by Sofan Chan, The Art of Happiness Gallery

About Lori Deschene

Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha. She started the site after struggling with depression, bulimia, c-PTSD, and toxic shame so she could recycle her former pain into something useful and inspire others do the same. She recently created the Breaking Barriers to Self-Care eCourse to help people overcome internal blocks to meeting their needs—so they can feel their best, be their best, and live their best possible life. If you’re ready to start thriving instead of merely surviving, you can learn more and get instant access here.

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