“Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”
~ Nelson Mandela
I’ve been hurt, and I’ve been lied to. I’ve been stolen from, and I’ve been betrayed. I’ve been abused, deceived, and intentionally mislead…and I’m grateful for every last bit of it. Ironically, it has ushered peace into my life.
I know. I know. I can hear the sarcastic eye-rolls and head shakes already. “Oh sure! I’m SOOO happy that I got in that car accident!” and “I love that my boyfriend cheated on me with my best friend!” and on and on. Grumble away, if you must. I’m not here to spout clichés like “Everything happens for a reason.” I won’t tell you that everything bad that happens to you is actually good. But I will tell you that everything bad that happens to you can be empowering…and it should be.
We don’t grow during easy times. We grow, physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally…during challenging times. The harder the challenge that we push through, the greater the growth. I’m grateful for the courage and the humility, the strength and the vulnerability, and the patience and understanding that this life has taught me.
In the beginning of Eckhart Tolle’s book, A New Earth, he wrote,
“If the history of humanity were the clinical case history of a single human being, the diagnosis would have to be: chronic paranoid delusions, a pathological propensity to commit murder and acts of extreme violence and cruelty against his perceived “enemies”—his own unconsciousness projected outward. Criminally insane, with a few brief lucid intervals.“
That’s a diagnosis that’s not only hard to stomach, but sadly accurate. So let’s breathe for a moment. Let’s lower our expectations. Remember that all disappointment lives in the gap between an occurrence and our often arbitrary expectations of what that occurrence should have been. The idea that we will all, in all of our disfunction, somehow miraculously grow into fully functioning, well-balanced, compassionate adults, with no baggage, no unhealthy coping strategies, no ill-conceived notions what should or shouldn’t be…well…it’s a pretty lofty expectation. So if, like me, you find yourself not always living up to your own expectations (or others’ expectations of you), take a deep breath, smile, then breathe again. You’re not alone.
Our emotions, that sort-of “who we are” part of us, is subject to so many outside influences. They are like a buoy bobbing around in stormy seas. Day after day, life after life, we spend so much energy and so many emotions on worries, regrets, resentments, fears, and animosity. I’m here to ask you…to implore you…to never spend another moment as long as you live.
Wait! That doesn’t even make sense! “Don’t spend another another moment?”
Here me out. I promise, it makes sense; deep, peaceful sense.
When it comes to money, we can spend it or we can invest it. We can spend money on junk-food with no nutritional value, or we can invest the same amount of money into our health and wellbeing. Like every investment, the returns won’t be immediate. But run this little junk-food vs. nutrition scenario down the road a few years and see what happens. Like investing money, it won’t take long until those two different paths (one conscious and one unconscious) lead us in two dramatically different directions:
Path 1: Spend your money on fast-food and snacks. Tasty? Heck yes! Easy? Very. But, this isn’t a guess. It’s a fact. If you’re living on junk food, you will eventually start to age prematurely, and eventually you’ll feel weak, sick, lethargic, and depressed. We live in a time when people are both morbidly obese and starving to death at the same time. Consider that for a moment.
Path 2: Invest wisely in your nutrition. If you are living on foods that are nutrient rich foods that have actually seen the soil, you’ll eventually start to feel stronger, more vibrant, more creative and productive, happier, and optimistic. Again, this isn’t a guess. Like gravity, it’s a law. There’s no way around it. We cannot detach the consequence from the action.
There’s a significant fundamental difference between spending and investing. Don’t spend your money on food. Invest in yourself. Invest in your physical body and your mental wellness. But the same needs to be said about our emotions and energy. We shouldn’t be “spending” them. We can invest them, wisely, if we know how.
Before we go down that rabbit hole though, we need to acknowledge one painful truth. We don’t typically invest our emotions or even “spend” them. Our emotions spend us. Much like thinking, thinking just happens whether we want it to or not. Our emotions are often doing the same thing. They tend to just chew us up and spit us out on a whim. Incessant thinking hijacks our brains, while unhealthy and undermining emotions run amok in our hearts.
For most of us we are at the beckon call of our emotions. They say, “JUMP!” We say, “How high?”
They say,“ Be anxious!” We say, “Sir! Yes sir!”
They say, “Be resentful!!!” We say, “I already am!“
Sometimes, if not all the time (and I’m guilty as charged), if we check our breathing and check our tension; the tension we hold in our shoulders, in our neck, in our jaws, we’ll notice that our emotions are being spent every waking moment, and we seemingly have no control over it. But can we stop spending and start investing our emotions?
Our emotions are really “us.” They are the essence of who we are. We aren’t our bodies. We are the intangible qualities inside and even around our bodies. The highest tech medical imaging equipment can’t see “us.” An MRI will show soft tissue damage, but it won’t find love. An x-ray shows broken bones but it will never show betrayal or a broken heart. A blood test won’t reveal our dreams and aspirations. Those feelings and emotions are who we are. But how do we keep that part the “us“ healthy? If you’re like me, even as a church goer, it took trauma and heart ached to finally discover how.
We have to learn.
If we study, and learn, and even pay people to look after our finances. We learn how to save and how to invest. But who teaches us how to save ourselves? Where are our teachers, mentors, and coaches that help us learn how to invest our emotions in a healthy way?
Explore, and you will find the answers. I promise. They are out there. And in this day and age, they’re all literally at your finger tips. The teachers and mentors, whether it’s in the form of a podcast or the Rig Veda, written some 3,500 years ago, they’re out their, and they always have been. But unless we notice that we need guidance, we need a mentor, a scripture, a resource, we won’t go exploring. We need to recognize that we’re lost first.
I heard a quote from a Netflix film called, I’m Not Your Guru. It said, “If you’re gonna blame, blame fairly.” This idea just illustrates the idea of…If you’re going to hold resentment against someone for cheating on you, then you have to thank them for giving you strength and independence. If you’re going to beat yourself up over something you did in your past, then be grateful for learning how to forgive yourself, or at least realizing that you can. If someone bullied you, thank them for pushing you to a place that was so uncomfortable that you had to grow from it. Find the good. Use the good…yes, the cheesy “silver lining” positives that come from your most painful and trying experiences. Let them empower you. Let them be the fuel you’ll need in order to grow, the motivation you’ll need in order to persevere, and ultimately the knock from your comfortable perch that helps you find your voice; your purpose.
Your purpose will always outlast your motivation.
When we talk about money, there’s no bigger truth than, “You can’t take it with you.” Well the same can be said about our emotions. There are 60 minutes in every hour. If someone steels 5 of them from, how many more minutes will you spend hating and resenting and wishing that things were different? How many of those minutes are you going to spend in the past versus how many are you going to invest in your future and in your peace?
“You are imperfect, you are wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging.” ― Brene Brown
You deserve to be happy. YOU…deserve to be happy. Invest your emotions. Don’t spend ’em. And if you have to blame…blame fairly.