I was reading “American Gods” by Neil Gaiman.
It was one of those books that leaves you thinking and gives you pause throughout. You have an insight, sparked by the writing, and mentally go down a rabbit hole before returning to the story before you.
I took a few days to read it and between curling up sessions life happened. At one point my husband and I had a chat about something, a tiny clash between my thoughts and experience of a particular issue, and his.
The next morning, as I dove deeper into the world Neil wove, inspiration struck and a potentially life changing insight entered my mind.
I was still slightly unhappy with the previous days’ encounter and I felt compelled to ask, “What benefit am I gaining from my upset?” I wasn’t above a 3. There wasn’t really anything to be said or done and yet I was still a little bothered.
In a previous relationship I would do the silent treatment. (Although, back then they were definitely arguments and disagreements. And this one didn’t even register on the Richter scale.)
I would take a few days to calm down. There was no communication about what happened or how to resolve the issue. No attempt at understanding or compassion. We had bouts and then took our corners until I felt enough time had passed to sweep it under the rug again… awaiting the next opportunity to come out.
And the next time would undoubtedly come. Out of the blue and intense as ever.
Things are so different now.
We work to understand where each other are coming from which means we don’t yell or seek to hurl hurtful words. And yet, through understanding him, and him understanding me, I still felt a little sad with the situation.
Enter the book and its insight.
What was I gaining by holding on to upset?
I was a 1 on the scale. I had verbalized my feelings. I felt understood. My reluctance to fully release the niggling irritation meant I was blocking a closer relationship with my partner. I was missing out on some of the happy things going on around me. This tiny cloud on my heart was draining my life of joy.
So, what was I gaining?!
I ended up talking about it with Jay. I mentioned my insight and my holding on. He too wanted to know what I was getting in exchange for my happiness. He was curious and liked the idea of the question.
“In my reaction to ________ what do I gain?”
It’s a great question. And since I couldn’t answer with a single positive thing, I pulled it out of my heart, put it in a bubble and let it float away.
Our time together was sweeter and I was more relaxed. I stopped robbing myself of joy and gave myself the gift of letting go.
So – what are you holding on to?
Is there a relationship that could be improved by simply letting go?
You could also ask yourself the following questions:
How will holding on to this affect me in one week?
What could I miss out on?
Is there a conversation I could have, or something I can do, to release this emotion?