258 Days ’til 40: The Toll We Pay (For NOT Letting Go)

08 Jun

“Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” ~ Buddha

When I saw this quote the other day, it immediately resonated with me because I realized how poignant and true it is.  When we hold on to anger, we are ultimately the ones who pay the price.  We continue to feel the pain for past hurts while the individuals who caused us the pain have gone on with their lives and forgotten us.  I think one of the hardest parts of letting go is really understanding the process involved, what the process is and what it is not, and who the ultimate beneficiary is.

Letting go is not necessarily forgiving a person for hurting you.  Letting go is not necessarily agreeing to absolve an individual of taking responsibility for damage they have caused (emotionally or physically).  Letting go can often take a more transcendent form.  Its’ goal is to free the person feeling the anger, its’ goal is to break the chains that are limiting the life of the victim, the one who has been hurt.

You can let go without forgetting or erasing your past.  The key is to begin to understand that a constant focus on the trauma and pain will not allow you to move forward.  An obsession with making a perpetrator “pay” for what they did or feel guilty, or force amends, is an obsession living in your heart as a victim and is not effecting the life of the person who hurt you.  They live a life oblivious to your pain – and as you hold on to that pain, they have won.  Letting go of the pain is standing victorious.

You can let go and still honor the truth of your past experiences.  You can let go and still regularly revisit and talk about the rough times.  In fact, you know you are starting to let go when you feel that the person or incidents trigger less emotional pull and response in you.  You know you are starting to let go when your daily focus on the pain you have lived through slowly fades to every other day, then once a week, then once a month – and you know you are moving on – for you.

In an ideal world we would be able to hold individuals accountable and they would be genuinely remorseful for choices made that cause great pain…… but, unfortunately, that is not the world we live in.  We cannot force someone to understand the impact their choices have on us, but we can indeed not allow their awful choices to continue to impact our lives.  We CAN CHOOSE to let it go.

When we bottle up anger inside, we pay a hefty price – not just in emotional misery, but also due to the effect that constant reminders of pain and trauma have on our soul and our health.  Many doctors believe that individuals with unresolved pain and anger are more likely to develop cancer and other serious health issues.  Often people who struggle to let go pay the price by not being able to properly engage in new friendship and relationship building….. they delay the creation of a new support system while waiting for their circumstances to change.  This delays when they will find new love and friendship,  critical for both mental and physical health.

So simple, yet so complicated – so necessary, so hard.

Today, 258 days ’til 40, I will continue to push myself to let go – as I do I free myself to live an uninhibited, happy life.  I hope you do the same.



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102 responses to “258 Days ’til 40: The Toll We Pay (For NOT Letting Go)

  1. silverbells2012

    June 8, 2012 at 00:06

    This is oh so true!Letting go is a skill many people, including myself, could do with lessons in. I like the quotation from Buddha 🙂

  2. cherylsavala

    June 8, 2012 at 00:07

    This one deserves the LOVE button on so many levels 🙂

  3. jensine

    June 8, 2012 at 00:19

    well I tend to take the back roads and try and avoid tolls but yu end up paying more on fuel and flat tyres 🙂

  4. Denny

    June 8, 2012 at 00:22

    So very true, but so very difficult to let go. Your advice goes a long way in helping to understand the importance of letting go, and to help let go. Thanks

    • 400daystil40

      June 8, 2012 at 13:42

      Yes, it is so very difficult…. which is why it is so important to understand we are ultimately doing this for our own health and it is not a self betrayal to let go, but rather, affirmation and victory.

  5. Laura Conowitch

    June 8, 2012 at 00:23

    Reblogged this on and commented:
    Letting go is so important to our emotional, spiritual and physical well-being. This post is such an excellent reminder!

    • 400daystil40

      June 8, 2012 at 13:41

      Thank you! It is an important reminder, but so hard to put into practice sometimes!

  6. Laura Conowitch

    June 8, 2012 at 00:25

    You say it so well! I reblogged your post!

  7. iRuniBreathe

    June 8, 2012 at 00:36

    Nicely said. I think with letting go comes forgiveness, of ourselves and the other person. This does not excuse the other person from what they have done, but releases us -and them- from the bond that is feeding the emotion. We forgive ourselves for being initially drawn into a situation, and that sense of blame or righteousness can be minimized.
    Take care!

    • 400daystil40

      June 8, 2012 at 13:40

      Yes, forgiveness is a tricky concept…. I think because so many people equate it with forgetting. And as you said, it does seem to be that often we have more trouble forgiving ourselves than others!

  8. transitionscoachingcayman

    June 8, 2012 at 00:39

    Excellent post.

  9. bellissimom

    June 8, 2012 at 00:44

    I love that quote from Buddha ! Great post.

    • 400daystil40

      June 8, 2012 at 13:38

      Yes, it is now one of my favorite quotes!

  10. fiercebuddhist

    June 8, 2012 at 00:52

    Reblogged this on FierceBuddhist and commented:
    A wonderful realization. What are “you” holding onto?

  11. writerwannabe763

    June 8, 2012 at 03:02

    There is so much truth in what you say…it is unfortunate that some ( I know of someone in particular) that are hurting so much from unspeakable abuse as a child that they feel they must get to the bottom of their feelings (which Is for them very necessary) but my fear is that they will then relive the horrors over and over and thus hinder the healing process….Diane

    • 400daystil40

      June 8, 2012 at 13:38

      Yes, you are correct. I think there is a careful, delicate balance here. If getting to the bottom of the issues and reliving the pain ultimately means the person can let go and the pain can be released it is good – the problem I see is that then people begin to take on the pain of their past as a new sort of identity and get lost in the pain and coming out the other side does not happen – it has to be a very skilled therapist to work with this and understand the difference….

      • writerwannabe763

        June 8, 2012 at 17:11

        That’s what I’m praying for…a good therapist as the other one she had I and she did not feel comfortable with…Diane

  12. Yvette

    June 8, 2012 at 03:19

    Understanding what you’re saying, but oh it’s not easy! Every day is still a ‘snap out of it’ day! x

    • 400daystil40

      June 8, 2012 at 13:36

      So true, it is definitely not easy. Take it one day at a time.

  13. Lani Longshore

    June 8, 2012 at 04:31

    I found it hardest to let go of my anger toward those who hurt my children. Two kids were especially cruel to my daughter when she was in grade school. She has long forgiven them and is even on cordial terms with them. For me, letting go is an on-going process.

    • 400daystil40

      June 8, 2012 at 13:36

      Yes, me too – funny that you mention that because I find the same -and when people are not nice to my partner or my daughters I find it harder to accept than when they are not nice to me – and I am often more angry than my partner or daughters and I have to step back and disengage from their battles…. the mother hen syndrome.

  14. Miss Molly

    June 8, 2012 at 05:23

    Thank you for the reminder… some days I do really well with this… other days, like today… not so much…

    • 400daystil40

      June 8, 2012 at 13:35

      Yes, it can be a roller coaster…. so then you watch the patterns and hope that you are slowly having more good days than bad ones.

  15. Lady T

    June 8, 2012 at 09:22

    This! I love it. I was burned so bad but ashes make excellent fertilizer. One day I opened my journal and thought, “I want to write about something else now”. I knew I was growing. Excellent post!

    • 400daystil40

      June 8, 2012 at 13:33

      Thanks and thank you so much for sharing your own experience!

  16. Spider42

    June 8, 2012 at 11:34

    Could not agree more – I like to live my life with as few regrets, grudges and angst as possible because a long time ago I had this moment of truth where I realised (and not through any trauma or life-threatening experience either if you can believe it :D) that life’s too damn short and humanity as a whole spends waaaay too much time making itself more miserable than it ever has to be and 90% of the time for really no good reason whatsoever.

    My answer (on the inside at least, otherwise I’d get my arse kicked a lot…) to anyone who stresses about the small stuff is usually this:

    • 400daystil40

      June 8, 2012 at 13:33

      This song is so cliche, but it ALWAYS makes me SMILE!!!!! 🙂

      • Spider42

        June 8, 2012 at 14:22

        I used to get annoyed by cliches but some of them are what they are for a good reason – like the stop and smell the roses thing 😉
        And honestly, most anything that can bring a genuine, hearty smile is fine by me.

  17. viveka

    June 8, 2012 at 13:54

    Love that song – to be honest I can’t let everything go … there is somethings I hang on to – even if I don’t think about the person all the time and if we met up I don’t show anything, but there is this barrier – we don’t have to love everybody, but we should be able to be dissent – even if the persons have treated us wrongly. Must things I let go .. life is to short. Where sexual assaulted many years ago and that I can’t really let go – but have been able to still work and met the person, but it was always in the back of my head. Reported it, he was my boss, but nobody really cared – so I decided to go and life around it.

    • 400daystil40

      June 9, 2012 at 02:15

      Wow, it sounds like you have been through a lot. I think one key is to take each day as it comes and slowly release what we can when we can.

  18. baarbaarathesheep

    June 8, 2012 at 15:30

    It is difficult to let go, but life can be difficult and the release you feel when you do let go is immeasurable….I love the song it always makes me smile….Thank You

  19. Magnolia Beginnings

    June 8, 2012 at 15:37

    I wanted to let you know that I nominated you for Illuminating Blog award because I do feel like you brighten up the world a bit with your blog. It also gives me the chance to share your blog with the people who read mine. Thanks for writing and pass it on if you choose to.

    • 400daystil40

      June 9, 2012 at 02:13

      Thank you for thinking of me! This is so kind of you and made me smile today!!!

  20. sued51

    June 8, 2012 at 16:01

    Excellent post! Great explanation of why it is so important to let go and move on.

  21. desiree109

    June 8, 2012 at 16:14

    Awesome! I really liked this blog! You are so right about the whole thing! People fail to realize it is really up to you to be happy. No one said it was easy to be happy, but it can be done! You just have to decide that you want to be!

    • 400daystil40

      June 9, 2012 at 02:12

      Yes, you are so correct! It is a decision!

  22. buckwheatsrisk

    June 9, 2012 at 02:57

    sounds like forgiveness 🙂

  23. Lucianus Mauricius

    June 9, 2012 at 05:01

    Everything you’ve expressed is absolutely true. As a person still dealing with trauma from my past it’s hard for me to let go. One flaw I see in the Letting Go reasoning is that’s always referred to people who are long gone from our lives. No one ever talks about people who’re still part of our lives and their presence still hurts us. We can’t that easily shut out mothers, father, siblings and so on. They’re still part of our lives, yet they still hurt us, thus perpetuating the hate and anger we feel for be subjugated to the barrage of insults, passive-aggressive behaviors, induced guilt, and disrespect for our own individuality.

    • 400daystil40

      June 9, 2012 at 19:39

      Good point, but not necessarily. MANY times we have to let go and still see the person, which makes the process harder and longer because of the constant pain reminder. It takes more strength and is more challenging, but is a reality for many. Some will choose to take an extended break in hopes to allow for the emotions to settle a bit…. some cut off contact completely, others just work with the slow process – it depends on each unique circumstance.

      • Lucianus Mauricius

        June 10, 2012 at 10:58

        I just can’t handle the reminder of those awful years, and thus I decided many years ago to have very or no contact with the people who hurt me and still do to this day when they get a chance to interact with me, which usually by force

        • 400daystil40

          June 10, 2012 at 12:58

          I have a feeling so many people can relate to what you are saying…….. I also found that limiting contact whenever possible was the best remedy for me.

          • Lucianus Mauricius

            June 10, 2012 at 13:56

            It is, unless the phone keeps on ringing…

  24. Victoria Oldham

    June 10, 2012 at 04:38

    So, so, so true. It eats away at you like a virus, till you’re nothing but illness. Letting it go leaves more room for the good stuff.

    • 400daystil40

      June 10, 2012 at 13:00

      Yes, that really is the sad reality, isn’t it?

  25. Paws To Talk

    June 10, 2012 at 06:50

    Wonderful post! We find this to be so true!
    Bella and DiDi

  26. Turn Around and Swim Life | Lessons| Laughter | Love

    June 11, 2012 at 16:27

    Great post! Love it. Thanks for sharing and for the reminder.

  27. Kimby

    June 11, 2012 at 23:00

    Visiting here from the link at My Mother-In-Law Is Still Sitting Between Us. Excellent article!

  28. HopefulHellion

    June 14, 2012 at 19:30

    So, so true. Thank you!

  29. taradancer

    June 15, 2012 at 07:18

    LOVE the quote by Buddha, thank you for sharing. Letting go is an ongoing process for me, so it was great to be reminded that you can let go and still honour the truth of who you are because of where you’ve been. Great post!

  30. edwardonbebop

    June 15, 2012 at 13:59

    Reblogged this on Edward On Bebop and commented:
    Very clever post !
    I can relate to that in a way. Not about anger for my part.
    I think letting go should apply to other things. For example: “What would have happened if I …”. Or even trying to understand a feeling or anxiety depression RIGHT NOW. Better progress is achieved by “letting go”.

  31. simon7banks

    June 19, 2012 at 16:17

    Letting go is not only from anger. Parents and many other people need to be able to let go of the people they’ve been used to guiding, maybe controlling. All of us need at some time to let go of a commitment, a role, which has become a large part of our lives.

  32. theinspirationqueen

    June 24, 2012 at 21:43

    An awesome post! I can’t think of one person, self included, who doesn’t at least occasionally need help with letting go of anger — thanks for sharing your thoughts so freely!

  33. yazrooney

    June 30, 2012 at 22:26

    This is lovely, and I love the Buddha quote. I found that I could only let go when I owned my experience, meaning that I accepted that the person who hurt me was mirroring back to me the issues I still needed to resolve. I know when the issue is not resolved because I still feel angry/hurt/sad or whatever. Letting go happens by itself, with no effort whatsoever, when we own what we have been exposed to at the hands of the other. Thanks for this.

    • 400daystil40

      June 30, 2012 at 23:50

      Thanks, I also love the Buddha quote! 🙂 Very good point, it is true that in order to truly let go we have to understand our part in the equation.

  34. iknead2knit

    July 2, 2012 at 18:33

    One of my favorite quotes and one I try to live by. Thanks for the reminder and thanks for reading.

  35. lucky4the1

    July 3, 2012 at 20:03

    I find that people who make me angry (for the most part) fall under these three categories: Bullies, the inconsiderate and oblivious. All of which don’t deserve a second thought when you really think about it. And I do, think about it because it staves off road rage and prison time from choking someone out. Kudos on the topic, Anger certainly is something we all can identify with.

  36. Kim

    July 3, 2012 at 21:56

    Thank you for the “like” today. I could not agree with this more: “The key is to begin to understand that a constant focus on the trauma and pain will not allow you to move forward. An obsession with making a perpetrator “pay” for what they did or feel guilty, or force amends, is an obsession living in your heart as a victim and is not effecting the life of the person who hurt you. They live a life oblivious to your pain – and as you hold on to that pain, they have won. Letting go of the pain is standing victorious.” So true.

  37. Amori Lp

    July 4, 2012 at 04:03

    Thanks for reflecting on this quote from The Buddha. Anger definitely harms the self more than others. And letting go is a process we must come to know through freeing ourselves from the constraints of anger. I think it is one of the most difficult things to do.

  38. Quilting And Applique Shop

    July 18, 2012 at 22:36

    Love this! So true! I realized that you first must recognize that you are in pain or angry. Once you really see your anger or pain then you can learn to LET IT GO! Your life then begins to change! You get Happy!

    • 400daystil40

      July 19, 2012 at 14:19

      Yes, exactly – it is hard to do, but in the end you feel so much better!

  39. aliciabozza

    July 23, 2012 at 02:08

    Loved your post….funny how I happened upon this specific entry the very first time visiting your blog….I just posted about letting go yesterday!

    • 400daystil40

      July 23, 2012 at 08:58

      Wow, that is great! Thank you so much for putting the link to your post!

  40. Benjamin Wendell

    July 25, 2012 at 20:17

    Agree on all points, but one: What’s the big deal with turning 40? I’d be a hell of a lot less angry in the first place if it was 40 on the horizon. Try 60 and then you’ll have something to be angry about.

    • 400daystil40

      July 25, 2012 at 22:03

      I am not angry about turning 40…. just wondering if I am on the right path or wasting time. 🙂

      • simon7banks

        July 25, 2012 at 22:08

        I’ve tried 60. What should I be angry about?

  41. queenoffamilosity

    July 30, 2012 at 04:42

    Great post. We can only control ourselves. Persons that hurt us either will or will not change when they are ready. We can choose not to be around them for future hurts but in order to release yourselves from pain we must choose to refuse to carry the pain from the past with us.

    It reminds me of a story about 2 monks walking near a river who come across a woman. They are not supposed to touch women yet this woman could not swim and was afraid to cross the river. One of the monks picked the woman up and carried her across the river to safety. The other monk looked on disapprovingly. As the day went on the second monk continued his disapproving comments toward the first monk regarding his carrying the woman across the river. Finally the first monk turns to the second monk and says, I put the woman down hours ago, but you are still carrying her.

    • 400daystil40

      July 30, 2012 at 15:17

      I LOVE The story you shared of the two monks!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH for sharing it – I hope the blog readers read through the comments and see this beautiful story. So poignant, so true. 🙂

  42. Ellen Wojo

    July 31, 2012 at 22:44

    I believe my girlfriend, who died from cancer, got sick from her very difficult relationship with her husband. He divorced her, left her nothing, took the kids, and shortly after she got breast cancer and then bone cancer. I miss her so much! When I get angry and resentful I remember her and she helps me let it all go. I know she is watching over me. I hope she has another chance to do it better.

    P.s. Thank you for the Super Awesome on my 150 Cakes blog. 🙂

    • 400daystil40

      August 1, 2012 at 00:04

      Thank you for visiting my blog…. it is so sad that your friend ended up being so sick as a result of the bad relationships – unfortunately, there is a very strong correlation. Years ago I was in a bad relationship and I was often sick and at one point even needed two surgeries…. it was amazing how much healthier I became when that relationship ended. My doctor even told me that she had many patients who were in bad relationships and very ill and got much better after their divorces….. sometimes it is just too late……. please stop by again and I look forward to seeing more cakes!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  43. JM

    August 12, 2012 at 20:54

    This is a great post and so very true! Thanks for sharing.

  44. Anita Mac

    August 14, 2012 at 08:20

    Very true! Sad to hear of your friend’s plight. It is a good reminder to all of us.

  45. laudell

    August 17, 2012 at 17:52

    Great insight and delivery, spoken from the heart. Thanks!

  46. KorpusLife

    February 6, 2013 at 16:40

    I really appreciated your perspective. Thank you for this post!

  47. feelingjoy

    February 11, 2013 at 20:23

    I like the Gandhi quote and I haven’t heard this one before, thank you. Letting go of anger is a key to personal freedom and this is something I continue to work on daily. I’ve learned in order to let go of fear based feelings, one must feel and recognize them, if not these feelings such as anger will continue to stay within. Each time these feeling come up, they are giving me the opportunity to uncover a belief I’ve accepted, which doesn’t support my intention to live authentically and peacefully. Thought always comes before feeling. I believe our feelings of anger come from emotional childhood wounds and we all have the power to heal these wounds by loving and accepting ourselves.

    • 400daystil40

      February 11, 2013 at 22:40

      Yes, you make very good points. IT is wonderful that you are able to recognize the deeper feelings and that you are aware and tuned into them as they arise. I agree, we all do have the power to move on if we are willing to do the work (even though it can be hard). Thanks for stopping by!

      • feelingjoy

        February 12, 2013 at 00:08

        You’re welcome. 🙂


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