“Letting go gives us freedom and freedom is the only condition for happiness.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
Ah, closure. That feeling of vindication, or a sense of completion—it can be very enticing! There are times when seeking resolution is really important. If we are having an argument with our partner, settling it can help strengthen our relationship. If we are having a disagreement over a contract, determining the outcome may be required to continue with the project at hand. In these types of situations, seeking resolution is very relevant. That said, there are loads of situations that occur in life in which we seek closure, even though it does not really serve us. As a matter of fact, this desire can hold us back. When we feel we’ve been done wrong, we want resolution. The size or type of infraction may not matter. We want to know who is guilty of the offense, or, if we know who the culprit is, we want to know why they did it. Here’s the catch: It’s pretty common to feel like this resolution is necessary to move forward. Many moons ago I was in a relationship with a man who turned out to be quite unsavory. Unbeknownst to me, he had gone through my wallet, made note of my credit card info, and was using two of my cards to finance what I can only describe as a shopping addiction. I was not using the cards at all, so was not expecting to see bills, and since he consistently arrived home before I did, he was able to get the bills from the mailbox before I ever saw them. I did not learn of his deception until we broke up for other reasons. Besides dealing with typical break-up emotions, I also had to face the reality of this man’s ability to lie to me and steal from me. Yes, the relationship went south, but I thought we’d had love and respect between us, and, well, enough integrity to not commit crimes against one another. I wanted him to account for his behavior; I wanted an apology; I wanted him to explain to me how he could have behaved in such a despicable manner toward anyone, much less me, his girlfriend (at the time). Unsurprisingly, I didn’t get any of that. I was rocked by this for quite some time. It took me months to realize that the reason I wasn’t getting over it was because I was still waiting for him to explain, apologize, or something. I realized that if I wanted to let it go, I was also going to have to let go of my desire for him to admit he was a mega jerk. We want to feel in the right. We want it to be recognized that we were done wrong. If possible, we want an admission of guilt. However, in looking for this type of closure, we are often giving away our power. We’re saying, “I cannot move past this experience until…” What we actually desire is an internal, emotional shift. We want to feel better! We already know we can’t expect the outside world to take care of our feelings. Let’s apply that knowledge to resolution as well. Here’s how I got over the thieving boyfriend situation, and it’s a formula I continue to remind myself of whenever I begin to feel like I can’t move past an experience until satisfaction is mine. Acknowledge that something crappy happened. Yes, it totally sucks when a formerly good friend stops returning our calls and texts. And, it can be life-altering when we are let go from a job, despite receiving positive feedback on our performance review. It’s important not to pretend. Sometimes we rush past the feelings that are present in an attempt to appear uncaring (unhurt, really), or like we have it handled. Getting back on the horse is great and all, but let’s first acknowledge that it hurt when we were knocked off! Having feelings doesn’t make us less able to handle tough stuff, or to come up with great solutions. It just means we’re human. Identify all the feelings you do have. If the situation is minor, it may be one or two feelings. For more intense events, it can take a while to pinpoint all of them. This is essential, because identification and recognition go hand-in-hand. In doing this, we’re accepting that we are feeling these emotions. This sort of self-acknowledgment is crucial. By the way, we’re the only ones who get to decide what is major, or minor, for us. We’re all unique, and we’ve all had different experiences that have helped mold who we are. Something that is minor for one may be major for another, and vice versa. That’s okay. The point is not to compare the experience we are having to how others would react; it’s to self-process and move forward. Release the need for outside mediation of any sort. This is not about forgiveness. It’s not about taking the high road, either. Those options both involve the other person. This is about us, and what we want. It is simply about asserting that we can move forward regardless of what is happening (or what doesn’t happen) in the outside world. We can use affirmations, or meditation, or whatever tools work for us for energy release. When we are looking for resolution from the outside world, we are also seeking acknowledgement. Learning to self-acknowledge is a wonderful gift to give ourselves. Whether you use the tips above, or another recipe that works for you, let’s choose to move forward. We are the one who will benefit, and we’re the only ones who will suffer if we don’t.