Introduction to Let Go, Heal, Be Happy

An excerpt from Let Go, Heal, Be Happy  by Mark Linden O’Meara

 

This book is intended as a guide for you, the reader, to learn about healing emotional pain and learning to be happier.

 

In your quest to heal, you may have heard time and time again that you should “let go and move on.” Although the advice appears to be helpful, you may not actually know how to let go. In some way you feel stuck, knowing what you want, but unsure how to proceed or what the true problem might be. You may have tried letting go, doing emotional work, or forgiving someone from your past, only to find the emotions rising again at a later time. You may find yourself imagining what your life could be like if it were not hampered by hurt, trauma and fear, yet you are unsure about how to achieve this goal. You have been hurt and are surviving – yet there seems to be something missing from your life.

 

I hope this book will help you learn to safely and successfully heal the pains of adversity, growing up, entering into adulthood, and the various losses and challenges that you have encountered. There are great joys in life, but they are often clouded over with layers of blocked emotion, hindering the free expressive ability with which you were born.

 

Letting go is a process you can learn, practice and improve upon. If you have not experienced the process of letting go, I will show you how through my own personal stories. I will describe the ideas, techniques and attitudes that facilitate letting go and help you to move into a state of emotional mastery.

 

In applying the principles in this book, you too can learn and experience the benefits of getting in touch with your emotional self and your associated thought processes. Just like learning to drive a car, you can develop the skill of releasing your emotions and managing your thoughts, attitudes and behaviors. Expanding your rainbow of emotions, you may discover creative talents that you never knew existed within yourself. Your efforts to heal will affect your relationships and friendships on a deep level. You can rediscover a sense of childlike joy in adult living.

 

Indirectly, this book becomes a tool for better communication, closer relationships, greater joy, and an increased sense of connection with yourself and with others. By reading this book, you will find yourself developing an awareness of your emotions, patterns, thoughts, and behaviors. You will become aware of the parts of your past that need to be healed and how to heal them. You will then learn about uncovering and expressing emotions through various healing concepts, practices, and rituals. You will develop skills to challenge your thinking and integrate a new way of thinking into your life. Over time, you will realize you have created a greater sense of happiness. My hope is that by learning to integrate the principles presented in this book, you will gain a sense of renewal and notice measurable changes in your life.

 

This book also has information about healing anger and rage, forgiveness, and getting un-stuck, all of which were essential to my healing process. I am certain that these will be helpful in your healing process too!

 

My First-Level Healing

 

Prior to learning the concepts in this book, my life was seriously affected by a backlog of emotions fueled by negative underlying beliefs. Having learned to hide my pain at an early age, I developed numerous health and personal problems associated with emotional repression and dissociation. All of this led to a state of crisis. I was fatigued and isolated, and my thinking was problematic, distorted, and negative. A friend confided to me that no matter how hard I tried to have a good time, it seemed that something was always pulling me down. Despite being in considerable emotional pain, I was unable to communicate this to others, nor could I admit it to myself. I kept myself very busy, at times compulsively. Even though I realized I needed to slow down, I could not. Although emotionally wound up, I was also extremely numb to my feelings. Due to unresolved grief, I believe I gave the impression that I wanted to be left alone even though my heart longed for companionship. Most of my obsession with projects and my irrational behavior were ways of avoiding my feelings. It is from this state that I eventually moved to a sense of serenity and connectedness with others. This change came about as I learned to deal with my emotions more effectively and challenge the underlying beliefs.

 

While the beginnings of this book came about after making a New Year’s resolution to experience more joy, it was the facing of my emotional pain that brought about the achievement of my goal. In the three years following my New Year’s resolution, I experienced a period of incredible change in my living accommodations, social life, career and ultimately my level of self-knowledge. During this period, I searched for answers. I learned about the dynamics of releasing, letting go and healing. I originally thought that emotional expression was the sole key to my healing. In retrospect, I understand that healing occurred when emotions were expressed and when my thoughts, beliefs and behaviors were also challenged and changed. I firmly believe in the interconnectedness of emotions, thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors. Starting to change one of these can bring about change in the others. I’ve learned that releasing emotions can result in increased clarity of thinking. When thinking improves, emotions and behavior can change.

 

My Deeper Healing

 

Learning about and healing my childhood traumas brought great improvements in my life, but significant difficulties lay ahead. I was in the process of completing my master’s degree and self-publishing my first book. While I continued to work on myself and felt a substantial level of healing, there came a period during which I experienced considerable adversity: health problems, fatigue and burnout, as well as serious financial difficulties.

 

This continued in the first three years after completing my master’s degree. While taking part in a friend’s move, I was asked to help carry a heavy trunk of books. After lifting up the rear end of the trunk, the other person lost grip and the trunk slammed to the ground, wrenching my already tensed neck and shoulders forward. The next few days I was stuck in bed with a terrible whiplash headache. It took over ten years and tens of thousands of dollars to heal the daily headaches and damaged muscle tissue. Furthermore, my master’s program took much longer than planned: what was advertised as a two year program took everyone three years to complete, myself included. This caused further financial problems and I ended up declaring bankruptcy. I also had to deal with a botched hernia operation, a tick bite that led to Lyme disease, and a cancer scare that required surgery.

 

Despite having done a great deal of healing work, I realized that I was a mess. I was angry, bitter, resentful, and in severe physical and emotional pain. I seemed to have lost hope that things would get better. Instinctively I knew I had to overcome a great challenge. I knew that something was missing. A powerful dream provided the answer.

 

In my dream I was trying to get to the top of a mountain. Driving my car up a hill to get to the park, the clutch began to slip, and I had to let the car slide back down the hill and park it. I then got on a bicycle and took a different route, but found my chain broken. I carried my bicycle up a path and joined a tour group, coming upon a sign that read “Level eight to ten dangers exist on this path”. People were coming down the hill on bicycles and nearly hitting me. Eventually I came to a clearing where a sign pointed to an odd-looking tree stump about twelve feet around, with a sign that read, “Level Ten Danger!”. Another member of our tour began jumping up and down on the stump saying, “How could this be a level ten danger?” I believe my dream was warning me that my challenges from burnout, bankruptcy and student loan issues could be the greatest threat I had ever experienced.

 

The dream continued. Just then the edge of the stump gave way and the other member of our tour group began falling into the abyss in the middle of the stump. As he tried to free himself he became more and more entangled, being swallowed up by the collapsed stump, its branches, and vines. By now I could see that the hole was dark and went deep into the earth. I believe that the branches represented my circular and obsessive thinking about the issues I was trying to resolve in my life.

 

With everyone standing around in shock, I realized that this person would die if I did not help him. I took action and reached over, grabbing his hand and arm and pulling him over the lip of the abyss with all my body weight. Although he was still slightly tangled, it was obvious that the danger was over. He got up, and as he untangled himself from the branches I joked, “Do you still think it’s not a level ten danger?” The humor broke the sense of tension and relaxed everyone. As the group began to walk further up the path, I realized that I had saved this person’s life through my actions, yet he seemed unaware of this and did not openly thank me. As we continued unencumbered on our journey, the man I had saved walked past me and touched me on the arm. It was his acknowledgement of thanks, his soul acknowledging mine. Clearly the event had shaken him at a very deep level.

 

In interpreting the latter part of this dream, I realized that the person who had fallen into the abyss was in fact me. I was depressed, discouraged and had lost hope. What I took from the dream, – and what my life has confirmed, – was that if anyone was to pull me out of this depression it would be me. I realized that I needed to help myself.

 

In dealing with my situation at that time, I found that my understanding of how to recover from adversity was profoundly deepened. I recognized that a rut is sometimes the highest mountain to climb. I developed a greater capacity for perseverance, hope and self-guidance. I was also able to reflect on my previous lessons and developed a deeper understanding of the powers of forgiveness, hope, gratitude, and self-care, and the ever-present power of choice.

 

To start to recover, I began learning to accept my situation as temporary. I started doing things to take care of myself, one day at a time. Slowly I began to emerge from depression, learning to exercise my mind to be more positive, to be creative in my thoughts and to visualize a positive outcome. I began meditating regularly, exercising, and eating better. I also discovered that I had become disconnected spiritually. I began to pray and to trust that things would work out. Things started to clear up. My finances and health improved as soon as I began working on the real problem: namely, my attitude. This became increasingly possible by taking concrete action to deepen my spirituality and learning about how I could help myself.

 

I understood at a deep level that I had, and continue to have, the power of choice – the choice to respond to thoughts, feelings and emotions in a way that can benefit me rather than hinder me. I can choose to base my future projections on past history, or envision a completely new paradigm. This is easier said than done. I discovered that although I had learned to express and heal pain, I had yet to develop the skills to deal with resentment and anger. I began a journey to do this. This alone was probably the greatest and deepest healing that I have experienced in my life thus far.

 

Defining “Letting Go”

 

As we start this journey together you may be asking, what is the definition of ‘Letting Go’? I have given this considerable thought and have come to the conclusion that it means:

 

“Allowing any person, place, thing, or organization to be what it is at this moment in time, without judgement or expectation of change.”

 

It can be applied to people, yourself, your emotions, and your workplace. Essentially, it says “What is, is.” Most emotional pain comes from not accepting reality. It is a definition to be applied in the moment. If you are feeling pain, you accept that you are feeling pain. If you are experiencing joy, then you accept the joy.

 

You will learn that this definition brings about a powerful paradox. By letting people be who they are, you change yourself. By accepting the current situation, you switch to being an observer. By being an observer, you can study the situation without the fog of emotion or expectation and then plan to make changes within yourself. It allows you to perform courageous acts of growth and personal activism without being motivated by harmful anger, fear or resentment.

 

The definition I have provided comes from many years of personal growth, learning to accept others, yet setting boundaries. In no way am I advocating that you roll over and accept difficult, unjust or unfair situations. Letting go allows you to learn to live without expectations. You can be centered in difficult times, with a strong sense of self-control and wisdom.

 

My Offering to You

 

Through my journey I have learned a tremendous amount about the nature of emotions and what happens when they are suppressed. I have also read countless articles and papers regarding the effects of emotional, physical and sexual abuse on the victim. The incidences of addiction, depression and mental health problems are clearly linked to these distressing situations. However, I have also learned that it is not necessary to experience extreme traumatic events to end up being emotionally numb, out of touch with your feelings, and rationally impaired. Stressful life events, unsupportive family environments, or growing up in addictive or dependent families are just some of the factors that can lead to similar conditions.

 

I have experienced the reality that the effects of emotional distress and life challenges are not permanent and that healing can take place. Through some trial and error, the support of others, seemingly chance meetings with people, and reading the right book at the right time, I experienced a major shift in my emotional, physical and mental health. I worked diligently to get in touch with my emotions, thoughts and feelings, releasing them to the universe, and experiencing healing that will last for my lifetime. The work has paid off! I developed a much deeper understanding of myself, my past, and the emotions I was feeling in the present. With this work came new understanding and insight and a better way of being in the world. In my healing process, I established new friendships, changed careers, developed a greater degree of self-compassion, and improved my decision-making. This led to a healthier outlook. I value my friends with less disappointment and recognize what I have to offer and bring to others. My self-esteem has improved. I am more assertive, and I experience a greater measure of joy in my life.

 

Over time, I learned that it is possible to safely express and resolve emotions and to heal emotional hurt. In the process, I experienced a sense of renewal and revitalization. I no longer have a lingering sense of dread and weariness about me. When problems arise, I am dealing primarily with the current situation rather than my emotional history. When issues come up in a relationship, I can deal with them more effectively, having resolved the burdens of my past. Of course, I still have difficult days, but I have successfully resolved a great deal of what is commonly referred to as “emotional baggage”. I have begun to live my life in a way that I believe is a dream come true. Simply reminding myself of these improvements makes my day better!

 

The events that brought about the creation of this book seem humorous now that I look back. Originally I started to write a “how-to” book on buying a house! I rented a laptop computer to do some writing at my brother’s isolated rural cottage. During the daytime I worked on a few projects around the cottage, and wrote during the quiet evening hours. One of the projects I took on was to make improvements to the property. My father had dug a well years before, with only a shovel, resulting in two hernias! Each spring, however, pine needles and other debris would find their way into the well and an annual cleaning was required at the beginning of each cottage season. As I began this project, I noticed that my father had taken a number of shortcuts in building the foundation of rocks that lined the well walls. I ended up removing all the original work and rebuilding it from the bottom with a new and stronger foundation. As I recognized this as an analogy for my own life, I wrote a short essay on the subject. Then I wrote another and another and so on and so forth. As I read the words I had written back to myself, I found a new calling to write, finding myself totally immersed in a different direction.

 

With my new goal of writing a book about a different subject, and having experienced a great deal of positive change, I wanted to ensure that I fully understood the process that I had moved through. I also wanted to identify the key elements that facilitated my healing process. I believed that I could pass on valuable knowledge to others. And so I began writing, which in itself was positive and cathartic. Spending considerable time collecting information on the topics of healing, health, and resolving emotions, I searched for articles on the effects of emotional release. Collections of notes scribbled onto napkins, scraps of paper, match covers, and concert programs were transformed into a manuscript and, eventually, this book. What you have before you is the result of my healing process. It describes what I have learned and my ongoing desire to change and grow. I hope the information and techniques in this book will help you in your goal of emotional healing.

 

I would like you to keep in mind that there is no right or wrong way to go about healing and letting go. You are unique and therefore the techniques or solutions that you choose may be different from those someone else would find helpful. The images and experiences you relate to will also be unique. As a result, I have not included case studies in this book, as it would not be possible to include the depth and subtleties of any one individual’s experience. I have, however, included my own personal experiences and examples wherever possible. While reading about the ideas and techniques I present, I suggest that you examine your own life to see how they apply to you. Try to apply them in your own unique way to your own situation. I hope that you create your own experience from reading these pages.

 

I believe that letting go will allow you to feel more joy and to unlock your creativity and spontaneity, as it did for me. One of the most profound challenges to which you can rise is healing yourself. The ideas in this book have helped me tremendously. My hope is that by sharing these insights, you and others may benefit from what I have learned and experienced.

 

Letting go, healing, and learning to be happy is a life-long process. If your healing journey resembles mine in any way, you will experience profound effects in your life, now and in the future.  Every bit of healing that occurs moves us closer to a healthier society! I believe anything is possible!

 

cropped-LGHBH-Production-Cover-Ebook-FB-Profile.jpg amazonbuy4
cropped-LGHBH-Production-Cover-Ebook-FB-Profile.jpg buynowbarnesandnoble
cropped-LGHBH-Production-Cover-Ebook-FB-Profile.jpg chapters-indigo