The Art of Letting Go
Learning this one skill has changed my life dramatically and it will change yours as well!
Like most people, I’ve had several reasons to hold grudges. My entire childhood was filled with opportunities to point the finger and seethe hate.
Why was my life nothing more than a complete and utter shit show? What did I do to deserve this?
It all started at the ripe, young age of 6 years old. This is a time I can pinpoint the downward spiral, that I called my childhood. This was when I was forced to crawl out of a window in the middle of the night and move to the complete other side of America. Only to live with a psycho, who beat us like he was a contestant on The Hunger Games. Is he why my life took this dark turn of events? Or maybe I should blame my dad? Was all of this his fault for not trying hard enough to find us? Is he to blame for not fighting tooth and nail to be in our lives? Maybe it was the governments fault for not helping us more. One thing is for sure, it was everyone’s fault, but mine…
I could write for days about the perpetually horrible people in my life. However, today I will spare you that part for the sake of staying on track. Fear not my avid readers, we will address their scandalous ways in later posts. Lots of posts, you see the list of people who screwed me over/used me is probably longer than the line of people waiting to file complaints on how the U.S. offended them today.
I, admittedly, used to blame a lot of people for how my life had turned out and some of it rightfully so. I was 17, a high school dropout with no drivers licenses. Hell, I had barely completed middle school. There I stood, pondering how I got there, realizing this is how far I had fallen.
At one time in my life, I was a straight A student, enrolled in every gifted and talented program schools had to offer. The opportunities I could have had, they all fall short and are left in the abyss. The abyss that is now simply known as ones imagination. Maybe I could have went to an IVY league school. Maybe I could have been some hot shot Wall Street lawyer? I mean, have you tried to have an argument with me, I am enough to mentally exhaust a person….ask my girlfriend. Maybe I could have been celebrating my 30’s behind a gorgeous mahogany desk in a plush corner office in high rise with the best view of Chicago, with a hand engraved name plate that reads “CEO of a Hypothetical Fortune 500 Co.”
The possibilities seemed endless, and I spent a lot of time dwelling on that. I spent hours dreaming of what could have been, it consumed my thought train daily. I spent so much time living in my hypothetical future, that I didn’t allow myself to move on and try to build my life. I wasn’t in the present. I was destined to follow the same path that most do with a childhood like mine. And that was OK, because it was everyone else’s fault….wasn’t it?
So what finally opened my eyes?
I was working at Wal-Mart, my boss called me to the back for my quarterly review. He explained to me what a great job I was doing and told me that if I kept up the good work maybe I could start training to be an assistant manager. The more he talked and went over the pay and benefit package the wider my eyes got. I was on a one way track to a lifelong career, at a mediocre company, for less than mediocre pay. Was I destined to be less than mediocre? My brain tuned out the hum of the man in front of me, he elaborated on my golden future outlined by Sam Walton. My brain shut down, this isn’t at all what I wanted. I had to politely decline, this manager even went as far as trying to talk me out of going back to school. He insulted me when I explained that I wanted more from my life. This was an awesome opportunity, according to him and I was a moron for passing it up.
In retrospect, I should have probably thanked him. He started the domino affect that ultimately changed my life.
This wasn’t at all how I envisioned my life and the only person left to blame was me. I was an adult now and my future was my responsibility. That night I went to work on getting myself enrolled in college. I had to take several remedial classes since I didn’t have a high school education. I worked full time, had my own apartment and paid my own bills. Student loans and PELL grants covered my schooling. My job at Wal-Mart covered the rest. I couldn’t afford a cell phone, internet, or a fancy car like everyone else had. However, I was well on my way to becoming the me that I had always dreamed of.
Things weren’t perfect and I made a lot of mistakes on the way. My past was now mostly behind me, but I still had trouble letting go of former grudges. I still had a lot of hate in my heart and didn’t know how to forgive.
One of the biggest regrets in my life soon came.
Outside of just a few people, I never really told anyone this small, yet huge event. My dad finally found me and called. After only talking a few times he brought up moving closer and wanted to know if he could move in with me until he got on his feet. I quickly fed him a bunch of excuses and got off the phone. I had no idea who this man was and I still hadn’t forgotten how he allowed us to be absent from his life. He should have found us sooner. Every time I thought about calling or answering his calls, I would talk myself out of it. He screwed up, this would be his punishment. “I’ll talk to him later”, I told myself. There’s always time, I thought to myself. Well I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Eye opener, number two…
He passed away a year or so later. I never did get to talk to him again. My dad was gone and only I was to blame for not getting that little time in I had left. My pride and inability to let go left a hole in my heart that can never be filled. The only memory I have of him now is his old wallet and a few pictures that his family sent me.
Image: BK via Flickr
What does all this have to do with anything? Well, here’s the best piece of advice I can give you to live a happy and successful life. And, also, what helped me get to where I am today. Sadly, I learned it the hard way.
Stop being angry. Stop holding grudges. The sooner you stop, the sooner you can start again. You control your happiness and you control your future. Take responsibility for your life, swallow your pride, forgive and forget, and LET GO! You can’t have a heart full of hate and be happy. You will never find success without first learning to be happy.
As I’ve said before, “pave the way to your future with new bricks and leave the old shattered ones behind”.
Interested in where I’m at now? Read some of my past blogs
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