Who among us ever walked this journey called life and never tasted bitterness? It is a given among the living – the roller coaster way. No one has ever been immune to it; but whether we would like to stay in the bottom or not, is our conscious choice.
Resentment oftentimes comes from the fact when we feel we had given much…too much, maybe, of self-sacrifice…of putting ahead everyone’s needs or cleaning up after everybody’s mess or taking up someone else’s responsibility. And one day, we woke up to a situation where nobody cares about all those stuffs. Then it will hit us hard and down, down we go straight to the abyss.
Really, we asked. How come it is so easy for some people to just put all our efforts to wastebasket and totally forget it as if it never happens…as if it never matters? Disappointment creeps in followed by deep hurt followed by resentment. Think, think and think some more. Slowly, our hearts are eaten up by so much bitterness we could hardly see the beauty and miracle in anything.
Anyone can cause us pain…family, friends and partners. It is quite okay when mere acquaintances give us trouble as it can be simply overlooked and forgotten. People outside our circle are unimportant and we could be just indifferent to whatever action or reaction we receive. However, it is a totally different case when pain is caused by people close to our hearts, as there comes that sense of betrayal. Are they not even capable of the word “respect”? Have they not heard of “gratitude”?
In other cases, circumstances bring us suffering…we work hard, we give hard, we love hard and yet, ugly things can still happen to us. Why? Where is justice? Where is God? We cannot be that entirely bad to deserve such challenges in our lives, is it not so?
It is understandable when we react this way…we are humans, after all, capable of all kinds of emotions. Yet, mortals as we are, there are always two ways to see the glass. And the choice of which way to go is entirely ours. On one hand, we can be bitter; on the other, we can see the lesson, be at peace with it and move on.
The Dalai Lama puts it better in beautiful words: “We can let the circumstances of our lives harden us so that we become increasingly resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften us, and make us kinder. You always have the choice.”
How do we let go of our bitterness?
1) Gratitude is the mother of all virtue therefore, count the blessings
Maybe we do not have enough money. We do not live in a big and beautiful house. We do not drive a car. We do not have the latest gadgets as well as top-of-the-line appliances and furniture. We cannot travel except to work and the market. We cannot dine in flashy restaurants. We cannot make good grades. But, so what? Still, we are breathing. And for as long as we are living, there is always that glimmer of hope.
So, let us appreciate what we have and be grateful for it. Learning contentment is one step to happiness. Be thankful for both the good and the bad…each face gives us a lesson. Many times what we think as negative actually provides us experience that makes us a better human. Come to think of it, a roof over our head and hot food on our tables are enough reason to be happy. No, I will not give you a line about many people going to sleep hungry. That is like taking something to be joyful about at the expense of others. Still, I would say let us be satisfied with what we have. Life is not a competition; it is a gift. We strive to give our best shot in anything but not because we want to be ahead.
2) Disappointment is the result of expectation and anticipation
When we choose to do an act of kindness – whether to give or love or do service – we should endeavor to do so without expecting anything in return. Be kind but without strings attached. By so doing, we also save ourselves a lot of heartaches. It is not easy to do that, I agree. Yet, we do know that practice makes perfect.
3) Opinions…yada-yada and blah-blah of other people certainly, absolutely, definitely do not define us
Let them call us arrogant or haughty or what-not. No one knows ourselves better than us. So, whatever people say or think – let them. Actually, whether they think good or bad, do not be affected by it. What matters is the person we know inside our hearts. The rest are just noise.
Maintain strategic distance without losing compassion – the essence of our being human. But remember, that if we always listen to every opinion and criticism thrown at us by each and every person, we will never get far. If we choose conformity to make everyone happy but ourselves, then we would end up trading our self-respect and conviction with acceptance. It is not the kind of life I want to live. I would rather have an attitude; I would rather be called bad names than be a people-pleaser. The only important thing, I believe, is not to intentionally hurt other beings.
4) Love ourselves because when things get rough and tough we can expect no one but our own to be there
It is funny how we are able to love and care for so many people but would be too hard when it comes to our own. We expect so much from ourselves, that is the truth. But let us be reminded that an empty pitcher cannot fill any glass. Hence, we must fill ourselves with love – selflove. Let us cherish our achievements. And for the things we see as failure, let us forgive ourselves and move on. I try not to benchmark myself against another human. In my mind, he/she is walking a different journey which I know nothing about. It would be best to just concentrate with our own. And instead, work on the milestones that are still undone for whatever reason…never be afraid to start anew or try something new. But while pushing ourselves to experiment outside our comfort zones, let us keep track not to be lost in the demand for materialism of our times.
5) Let go…of everything
Life is too short to be spent on envy, sadness, fear, regrets and hate. Grudge is a burden we carry and makes living stressful and challenging. Lamenting over our circumstances in life will not solve anything. Much more, putting the blame on someone or God will not get us anywhere. Our own life – how we manage it, how we handle our situations and challenges, how we act and react – are our responsibility. OURS. No one else’s. Not our family’s or friend’s. And for Pete’s sake, not God’s. God is not our dad or mom who should provide for us during our dependent years…no Santa Claus either. Man (or woman) up and let us act according to our age. Take responsibility.
And while at it, let us find beauty in everything and everyone. Let me use the words of Shams of Tabriz: “The whole universe is contained within a single human being – YOU. Everything that you see around, including the things that you might not be fond of, and even the people you despise or abhor, is present within you in varying degrees. Therefore, do not look for Sheitan outside yourself either. The devil is not an extraordinary force that attacks from without. It is an ordinary voice within. If you set to know yourself fully, facing with honesty and hardness.” Simply put, how we see other people is a reflection of how we see ourselves. Let us be careful then when throwing criticisms or placing blame as oftentimes, when we point our index finger towards someone, three fingers are pointing back at us.
6) If you need to vent or rant, do that in writing…paper will not complain or get hurt
Really, sometimes we need a wall that can listen to us talk and say everything we want to say…unplugged. But for Pete’s sake, rather than making another human suffer hearing loss or stroke, let us do the ranting and venting out of our pains on the paper. Write down all the stuffs there. After our mind runs out of things to complain about, I promise you, you will feel relieved.
Veer away from using the Facebook wall as your friend…unless there is nobody there but yourself. People do not want to hear of our pains…many of them are just there for the gossip…and to see us suffer. Do not feed the hungry with negativity.
7) Live for the moment only…leave the morrow for the next day
Do I sound like a broken record to you? If you have read several of my works, this should be a familiar theme by now. But living for the moment…the one that is right in front of us is more important than anything else. Address only the problems that need addressing now. The rest can wait. It makes a lot of things easier and manageable. No sense getting overwhelmed. There is time for everything. Let us learn to wait for the right time…and be patient.
8) Attend to our “soul business”
A year ago, you will not hear me saying this but some circumstance happened to me and changed the way I see things. I was “dragged” into this path, yes, but I am glad I was.
We get so caught up with our living; and the distractions that come with our existence that we forget to nurture the most important thing in our life – our soul or heart, or whatever you call that where God resides. We were all born to die. Every birth is a beginning of a journey to death. Let us not put so much stock in our material existence as one day we shall leave it all behind. We are spiritual beings that are having human experience. Let us make the most out of it. Smell the flowers. Adore the creations. See the miracles. Love because life is made for that. And by that, I do not exclusively mean to love romantically. But rather, just to love every sentient being for the sake of loving.
Remember that a person without relationship with God is a person that is empty. I do not know how you conceive God to be. Nevertheless, work on a relationship with It. It is said that the reason a human is always half-empty is because his/her soul yearns to reunite with God. That is why we continually seek pleasure not knowing that what we are actually missing is God. It is within us. Not in the mosques or temples; not in holy places; not up in the sky – but, right there, in our own very hearts. We cannot use our eyes to find it nor our mind; just feel it and you will see.
There…still, if after reading all that and you are not convinced that this life is worth living, I will tell you what Osho said. He said that if one wants to die because of pains and sufferings, that person should first try covering his/her nose and mouth for a minute or so. During which process, he/she can decide whether he/she wants to go ahead with it. Osho is of opinion that after 2 minutes without breathing, the person will change his/her mind about dying.
Life is a gift. Bear that in mind. It is an opportunity for learning and for beholding God’s miracles.
An entrepreneur by day, a dreamer by sundown. When I am not busy dispensing medicines, you will find me either writing or reading or dreaming about my bucket list of destinations. Books and places enthrall me. I am a curious, irreverent and mischievous soul who loves to travel and passionately care about my spirituality. I do not fancy a castle but rather a small hut by the beach with a hammock tied between two coconut trees.