The Art Of Letting Go


Dr. Alan Zimmerman's Comments:

Sooner or later, everyone you know will disappoint
you in some way. They'll?say something or fail to
say something that will hurt you. And they'll do
something or fail to do something that will anger
you. It's inevitable.

Unfortunately, you make things worse when you stew
over someone's words and deeds. When you dwell on a
rude remark or an insensitive action made by another
person, you're headed for deeper problems.

In fact, the more you dwell on these things, the more bitter you'll get.

You'll find your joy, peace and happiness slipping
away. And you'll find your productivity slowing down
as you spend more and more time thinking about the
slight or telling others about it. Eventually, if
you don't stop doing it, you'll even get sick.

So what should you do the next time someone betrays
though the other person may be at fault, even though the other person
wronged you, you are still
responsible for your own feelings.

In other words, other people do not "cause" your
feelings. You choose them.

For example, two different people could be told that
their suggestions made at the staff meeting were
"stupid and idiotic." One person may "choose" to
feel so hurt that he never speaks up at any other
meeting again. The other person may "choose" to feel
sorry for the critic, sorry that the critic couldn't
see the wisdom and necessity of her suggestions.

As long as you blame other people for your feelings,
as long as you believe other people caused your
feelings, you're stuck. You're a helpless victim.

But if you recognize the fact that you choose your
feelings and you are responsible for your feelings,
there's hope.?You can take some time to think about
your feelings. And you can decide what is the best
thing to say or do.

Then, you've got to learn to WALK AWAY FROM
DISAPPOINTMENT.?It's difficult to do, but it's
possible. The famous 19th century Scottish
historian, Thomas Carlyle, proved that.

After working on his multi-volume set of books on
"The French Revolution" for six years, Carlyle
completed the manuscript and took volume one to his
friend John Stuart Mill. He asked Mill to read it.

Five days later, Mill's maid accidentally threw the
manuscript into the fire. In agony, Mill went to
Carlyle's house to tell him that his work had been

Carlyle did not flinch. With a smile, he said, "That's all right, Mill.

These things happen. It is a part of life. I will
start over. I can remember most of it, I am sure.
Don't worry. It's all here in my mind. Go,my friend!
Do not feel bad."

As Mill left, Carlyle watched him from the window.
Carlyle turned to his wife and said, "I did not want
him to see how crushed I am by this misfortune." And
with a heavy sigh, he added, "Well the manuscript is
gone, so I had better start writing again."

Carlyle finally completed the work, which ranks as
one of the great classics of all time. He had
learned to walk away from his disappointment.

After all, what could Carlyle have done about his
burnt manuscript?

Nothing. Nothing would have resurrected the
manuscript. All Carlyle could do was to get bitter
or get started. And what can you do about anything
once it is over? Not much. You can try to correct it
if it is possible, or you can walk away from it if
it isn't. Those are your only two choices.

Sometimes you've just got to shake it off and step
up. It's like the farmer who had an old mule who
fell into a deep dry well. As he assessed the
situation, he knew it would be difficult, if not
impossible, to lift the heavy mule out of the deep

So the farmer decided to bury the mule in the well.

After all, the mule was old and the well was dry, so
he could solve two problems at once. He could put
the old mule out of his misery and have his well

The farmer asked his neighbors to help him with the
shoveling. To work they went. As they threw
shovel-full of dirt after shovel-full of dirt on the
mule's back, the mule became frightened.

Then all of a sudden an idea came to the mule. Each
time they would throw a shovel-full of dirt on his
back, he would shake it off and step up.

Shovel-full after shovel-full, the mule would shake
it off and step up. In not too long a time, the
exhausted and dirty mule stepped over the top of the
well and through the crowd.

That's the same approach we all need to take. We
need to shake it off and step up.

Finally, you need to FORGIVE. It's difficult,
especially when the other person doesn't deserve
your forgiveness or doesn't even seek it. It's
difficult when the other person is clearly in the

Part of the difficulty comes from a common
misunderstanding of forgiveness.

Forgiveness doesn't mean that the other person's
behavior is okay. And forgiveness doesn't mean that
the other person is off the hook. He's still
responsible for his misbehavior.

Forgiveness is about letting yourself off the
emotional hook. It's about releasing your negative
emotions, attitudes, and behaviors. It's about
letting go of the past so you can go forward to the

Everyone in your life, everyone on and off the job
is going to disappoint you. If you know how to
respond to those situations, you'll be way ahead of
most people. You'll be able to live above and beyond
your circumstances.


Identify two people that have disappointed, hurt, or
angered you. If?possible, select two people towards
whom you still have some bitterness.

Then ask yourself, "How does my bitterness serve me?

Am I happier holding on to it?

Do I sleep better?

Is my life richer, fuller, and better because of my bitterness?"

If you find that your bitterness is hurting you, make a decision.
Actually decide to let it go.

Walk away from the disappointment -- which means you
no longer dwell on it or talk about it. Period!

Or as Islam teaches us, the true believer is the one who
can forgive while she is angry.

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