My nephew called me this weekend to tell me that I am going to be a great aunt. This nephew is a good man. He grew up in circumstances that were not always great but he decided to let go of those issues and move on. He has had some hard knocks but he seems to be strong enough and willing enough to not allow them to shape his life. I am proud of him and I wish him, his wife and their child the best in life.
There are members of my family, both biological and through marriage, who do not seem to be able to begin again. Let go and move on. In a lot of families of patients I see, this is the norm, so I am not surprised that it happens in my family too. Why do we hang on? What is it about us that continues to live in the past, hold grudges, stay angry? There is a saying that those who refuse to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. So each generation that clings to that need to hold on to past hurts, repeats that hurt with others and passes it on to the next generation.
I have been cleaning out my office to make room for an associate. Last week I ran across a saying that I had once posted on my wall. I do not know who wrote it, I usually try to give credit to an author when I can. I will look it up. The saying is as follows:
“To refuse to begin can be an act of great self neglect”
Many of us refuse to begin. Beginning to let go of the past and learning to live in the here and now can be painful. Isn’t it more painful to hold on? To never change? Never let go? Continue to refuse to begin?
Then we have a physical ailment, one that continues to make us sick, we go to the medical doctor and ask to be healed. Many of us go to God when we have a illness of faith. When we have a psychological illness, we often set back and say “let everyone else change, it hurts too much for me to change.” That just doesn’t make sense. Why do we refuse to begin to heal from things, events, feelings because it may hurt a bit? Why is emotional hurt harder to recognize and heal than physical hurt?
I grew up with the premise that everyone else came first. I was not allowed to have feelings that may need soothed because that was selfish. In my practice, I see many others who were raised by the same rule. Take care of others first. A few years ago the buzz word in my field was “Co Dependent” Everyone was co dependent. Maybe that is true. Many of us are. We were trained that way. How do we learn to put ourselves first and not feel guilty about it? When do we stop practicing self neglect and start setting boundaries with others who use that guilt and co dependency to keep us trapped? When? I say, no time like the present!
Today, practice taking care of yourself. Sark says that “The appropriate use of the words, “Yes” and “No” make more room for love” That means love of self as well as love of others. That means that it is okay to use the word NO. It is okay to say I love you but I can no longer be co dependent. I can no longer allow you to treat me with disrespect, anger, jealousy or hurt. I will set boundaries and I will do so without guilt. If YOU choose to continue to hold all of your negativity, then by all means, do so, but I do not plan to be a part of that.
Yes it takes practice. Those who have manipulated us for years with their poor me attitudes will work very hard to keep us in that co dependent state. Learning to appropriately set boundaries will eventually allow them to take ownership of their own feelings and that will also, hopefully, cause change in them too.
So today, practice taking care of YOU. Practice saying NO when you really want to say no. Practice making changes to YOU. Do not fear beginning again.