For some of us, September marks the beginning of a new year. For others, it simply points out that the old year is almost 3/4ths over. Still, I like to think of this time as a new start, whether you’re embarking on a new school year or celebrating the Jewish High Holy Days, and with every beginning should come its fair share of reflection.
Recently, I looked back on my previous year and realized just how much anger and resentment I had for some of the things in my life that hadn’t gone as I’d hoped. Not only did I recognize my own grudges, but I also picked up on some of the grudges that others around me had held. It seemed that everyone I knew had lost a friend, endured a difficult breakup, missed an important opportunity or failed at something they truly wanted. We may not have realized it, but we were walking around each day with a chip on our shoulders, an air of disappointment or a certain sadness we couldn’t shake.
I recognized this in myself and in others, but the solution didn’t hit me until about a week ago, when I was watching a rerun of How I Met Your Mother. In the episode after Ted, the protagonist, gets left at the altar, he thinks about what he would say to his ex-fiancee if he had the chance. Finally, he comes to this conclusion, which Older Ted narrates to his future children:
“Kids, you may think your only choices are to swallow your anger or throw it in someone’s face, but there’s a third option: you can just let it go, and only when you do that is it really gone and you can move forward.”
It sounds so simple, but all too often we take the “easier” road of resentment, in which we either act on our anger toward others or we keep it bottled up. Of course, neither reaction is a healthy one, and even when we display our anger openly, it rarely helps the situation. I think that a huge part of the problem is that we don’t trust ourselves to find our happiness from within; our self-worth is so defined by others that we can’t allow ourselves to let go of the past.
In his book, The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz says, “If someone is not treating you with love and respect, it is a gift if they walk away from you… Walking away may hurt for a while, but your heart will eventually heal. Then you can choose what you really want. You will find that you don’t need to trust others as much as you need to trust yourself to make the right choices.”
When you walk away from something that isn’t right for you — whether that is a relationship, friendship, job or anything else — you have to trust yourself and move on. Wallowing in the past and not accepting the things you can’t control will only embitter you further.
Take a moment today to break free from something that has been holding you back, and allow yourself to finally let go. It may take some time, but it will be worth the effort and will be the best way to begin anew.