“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else: you are the one who gets burned.” –Buddha
When I took my 200 hour yoga teacher training, it involved a great deal of reading, self-inquiry, and journaling. We read Being of Power by Baron Baptiste who designed this training program. One of the practices is to Clean up the Messes. It was about how we hold onto grudges and resentments toward other people and continue to let those emotions build up inside of us. We have our version of the truth, which usually is different than the other person’s version. When we aren’t open and accepting, it causes conflict.
Being complete is being authentic and true to ourselves to clean up the mess. It may include journaling about what the mess even entails, if it’s still pertinent, and if I willing to take responsibility for my part in the mess. Or if someone has betrayed me, do I feel the need to be complete with them, meaning do I feel the need to let them know how their betrayal affected me.
Sometimes we don’t even know that we have hurt someone or they may not know we are upset at them. Then the anger and bitterness percolates until there is either an explosion or the friendship fades away. Either way there is left over business that is toxic to our bodies.
This part of the program was very hard for me. As much as I like to write and talk, I’m not a very clear communicator. I tend to stuff emotions down, because I don’t want to hurt other people’s feelings. When I journaled about my messes, it was freeing and clarifying to know that I was responsible for some of the mishaps. Even more freeing was taking responsibility for it. I could change the outcomes and the relationships.
Now if I have a problem with someone, I will either journal about it first to make sure I understand both perspectives and work on how I want to handle it or I approach the person and clear the air. Sometimes just by writing about it, I can let it go and realize no action is needed. But it’s not until I sit and think it through that I can get to this point. This also gives me space to reflect and not fly off the handle and make the situation even worse.
Recently I had a couple situations where my words were taken the wrong way and people were hurt by them. In both cases, I knew it immediately and called them. Not only were misunderstandings cleared, I think a stronger bond was formed. I was being authentic and owned up to what I said, but also explained what was behind the words. My emotions played a big part and writing about it helped me understand my fears.
What are some ‘messes’ you feel you need to clean up? Does it have to do with a relative, a spouse, friends, or co-worker? Is there a situation you are bitter about and would like to resolve? What is it costing you to hold onto these feelings?
Once you are able to be open with this person or situation, write about how you feel. Do you feel lighter, happier, less stressed?
I highly recommend reading Baron Baptiste’s books. Go to his website for more information.