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Stop Watching Stale Re-Runs March 14, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Mindfulness.

How do we heal wounds?

If we forget about them, and leave them alone, they heal on their own. In contrast, if we keep picking at the scabs, to see how fast we’re “healing,” we merely impede the body’s natural healing capabilities.

In this society, we are definitely encouraged to analyze the past ~ to “think it through.”  I suspect, however, we would be heal faster if we just let sadness from the past drift away . . . out of sight and out of mind.

When we hang on to negative emotions (hurt, frustration, anger, sadness, or grief), we are getting in the way of the natural healing process. 

Instead of letting time work its magic, we aggravate the impact of the initial injury by letting it eclipse everything else in our lives. 

We get stuck for days, weeks, months, and even years, watching the same stale re-runs over and over. 

Whenever we choose to hang on to the past, rather than letting it go, we are robbing ourselves of  the joy, peace, and happiness we could be feeling right here, right now.

In The Serenity Principle, the author addresses how our thoughts give rise to our emotions . . . not the other way around.  In its essence:

We think a sad thought (“I’m all alone”). . . we get sad (“Being alone is sad”). . . which makes us think about other sad thoughts (“It’s so unfair. This shouldn’t have happened. I’m scared.”) . . . which makes us sadder (“Why do I have to deal with this? Why did he/she/it have to leave?”) . . .

If we see the sad thought for what it is ~ just a puff of energy ~ we can examine it BEFORE it spirals out of control, and replace it with a thought that is more conducive to our happiness and peace of mind:

“I’m all alone.” -> “But I won’t always be alone. I have friends and family that love me. I’m young, vibrant, and in good health. This is a sad time, but I’ll get through it.”

The more we question our thoughts and look to see whether the statements are really “true,” the faster we heal. 

Try asking: Will this thought bring me peace of mind? 

If the answer is “no,”  think about something else for awhile, and allow the pain, fear, guilt, and sadness to recede of its own accord.

Pain will wash away in time . . . as long as we don’t go chasing after it.

Quote:  Do not believe everything you think.

No rules.  Just write!

How about you?  Do you find it easy to let go of emotions once they’ve served their purpose? 

Or do you find that sadness, anger, guilt, and fear linger longer than necessary?

Related posts:  Choose Happiness * Maybe You’re Right * But I Might Die Tonight It Is What It Is * Don’t Believe Everything You Think * Does Time Heal All Wounds? *  You Are NOT Your Brain (Always Well Within)


1. CMSmith - March 14, 2011

I find thinking it through, mulling it over, allows me to find the right shelf in the right room to place it. I need to understand things. That’s what helps me. I think we are all different in this regard. I know my husband is not the same as I am in dealing with grief.

I understand your point. I do think sometimes we can hang on to things we need to let go of and move on from, but by the same token, I think sometimes well-meaning friends and relatives want us to heal on their schedule because of their discomfort and not allow us to heal in our own time and own way.

nrhatch - March 14, 2011

Doesn’t sound like you’re watching stale re-runs. We all need time to process pain.

But some people get caught up in it (as if it’s a “badge of honor”) and they refuse to let it go.

They tell themselves, “I’ll never get over this,” and that thought becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

2. Piglet in Portugal - March 14, 2011

If we are not careful it’s to easy to hang on to anger and sorrow for things that have happened. Negative thoughts will consume us if we don’t let our positive energy drive us forward.

I am a firm believer in letting a scab heal rather than keep picking at it. But sometimes I still have to check on the scab to make sure it’s healing and I’m still moving in the right direction.

You do make some thought provoking posts! 🙂

nrhatch - March 14, 2011

Thanks, PiP! It is all to easy to hang on to anger and sorrow long after they’ve served their useful purpose.

Doing so causes us to live in the past rather than moving forward into the infinite possibilities that await.

Often it’s guilt that holds us back. We refuse to let go out of a sense of obligation to others.

3. Cindy - March 14, 2011

Sometimes remembering a hurt helps us celebrate the lesson we learned from it. I agree, though, that picking at scabs it a fruitless pursuit.
Hearts 🙂

nrhatch - March 14, 2011

I think the key is to remember the lesson (and the good times) while letting the pain detach from the lesson so it no longer hangs like a cloud over your days.

4. Stop Watching Stale Re-Runs (via Spirit Lights The Way) « Change is Never Ending - March 14, 2011

[…] How do we heal wounds? If we forget about them, and leave them alone, they heal on their own. In contrast, if we keep picking at the scabs, to see how fast we’re “healing,” we merely impede the body’s natural healing capabilities. In this society, we are definitely encouraged to analyze the past ~ to “think it through.”  I suspect, however, we would be heal faster if we just let sadness from the past drift away . . . out of sight and out of mind. … Read More […]

nrhatch - March 14, 2011

Thanks, Duke!

5. James - March 14, 2011

A publican near me has posted a 60′ x 20′ banner over the entrance to his pub, saying that the Queen and her family are barred from his premises. Using the argument that as long as the British occupy one inch of the land, they will never be welcome in Ireland.

Now I’m all for political and religious freedom; but didn’t the people of Northern Ireland want it this way? Here we have this man, for publicity or other reasons, bringing up a part of history most right-thinking individuals would rather see put in perspective. Both sides of this “debate” have blood on their hands.

Anyway, I doubt very much HM would frequent bars in Dublin when she visits here in May. Let the past stay in the past. Let us learn from it and move on.

nrhatch - March 14, 2011

I so agree. We benefit most if we remember the experience without resurrecting the pain each time we recall it.

I’d love to have a pint with the Queen. 😀

6. viviankirkfield - March 14, 2011

My sister used to tease me and call me Pollyanna when we were growing up because she thought it was “wrong” to look at the positive side of life all of the time. I think she worried that I wasn’t aware of what was “really” going on in the world…as if taking on a negative view, just because there was so much negativity and sadness in the world was somehow better or more realistic. I always maintained that looking at the bright side of things, letting go of sad events or anger about things that had happened, was a much more healthy way to live.
Nancy, I love the way you encourage us to “look” at the problem, sadness, anger, etc…and then just let it float away, like those dandelion seed heads we all blew here and there as children. Of course we need to acknowledge “stuff” and deal with it…but holding on to negative feelings does no one any good.

nrhatch - March 14, 2011

You’re a wise soul, Vivian. 😀

We cannot stop the rain from falling, but we can smile in spite of it.

And, thanks. I find that the more we step back and look at our thoughts mindfully, the more easily we see how they lead us astray.

We add to our suffering by refusing to accept the “what is.” We alleviate unnecessary suffering by accepting things we cannot change, even if we would have chosen a different scenario.

7. Maggie - March 14, 2011

It is important to learn from the past, but there’s a point when we should be done learning and just move on.

nrhatch - March 14, 2011

I agree. Thanks, Maggie

The more we stay grounded in THIS MOMENT, the only place happiness resides, the more we enjoy (and survive) the ups and downs and ebb and flow of life.

8. kateshrewsday - March 14, 2011

Sounds a great book Nancy. I teach my kids at school that we have to be mental gymnasts, limber at combatting any negative thoughts which might turn into a cycle. I try to practice what I preach: one can get rusty without regular practice 🙂

nrhatch - March 14, 2011

Thanks, Kate. I love that image . . . doing mental gymnastics.

And so true, if we want to be proficient, we must practice, practice, practice.

9. Lisa Kramer - March 14, 2011

Sometimes I hold on, sometimes I let go. The hardest things to let go, however, is anger and pain. And they are the things I must let go of or I get stuck. I need to learn to forgive, or at least move on with forgiveness.

nrhatch - March 14, 2011

What helps me with anger . . .

I imagine they are trying to make me unhappy by making me angry. Then, I refuse to give them that satisfaction. 😀

When we control our thoughts, others can no longer control us.

10. Tilly Bud - March 14, 2011

Apart from deaths in the family, the worst I ever felt was for a short period when I had some counselling. Raking up the past definitely does not work for me, and I think it is over-prescribed. Having said that, there are terrible things that happen to people for which counselling should be given; I just don’t think we all need it for every broken toe life hits us with.

nrhatch - March 14, 2011

I agree. Therapy would be far more beneficial if therapists would teach people to mindfully examine their thoughts, rather than bemoaning their fate.

The book, The Serenity Principle, is by a counselor who discovered the benefit of teaching his clients to be more mindful of their thoughts . . . rather than digging around in the past.

nrhatch - March 14, 2011
11. carldagostino - March 14, 2011

My particular 12-Step program goes into deep depth on this topic and about not regretting the past. “Let go. Move on. Get over it, dude” seems like unachievable platitudes. Have not been able to do any of them. But I have found some relief in that over time and being engaged in productive things the unhappy past begins to at least “evaporate” and I am finding degrees of solace in that.

nrhatch - March 14, 2011

Good for you.

I find it gets easier with time ~ the more I examine my thoughts mindfully, asking whether they are telling me the “truth,” the less they “run away with me.”


12. SuziCate - March 14, 2011

The only way to heal is to let go of the events that cause us pain. I had things in my past that I thought I was over just because I didn’t talk about them, but I learned there was more to letting go than not talking about it. Once I accepted the hurts were part of my development, I was able to heal and move on. Great post, Candy! (Forgot to call you Candy on my post comment!)

nrhatch - March 14, 2011

I agree, Suzi. It’s not giving our pain the silent treatment that gets us past the pain. It’s accepting life as it is, rather than as we might want it to be. It’s entering the flow of life to embrace all with joy and then to relinquish all with joy.

People will think you’re calling me “Candy” because I’m so sweet . . . but you and I will know different. 😀

13. Carol Ann Hoel - March 14, 2011

If I remember my own humanity, I find it easier to forgive a person that offends me. No one is perfect, and we all make mistakes. Also, if I forgive people for their offenses, I am able to forgive myself more easily when I make a mistake. We all mess up sometimes. Forgive and forget is a good motto.

Your posts that encourage people to lighten up on themselves and others are a blessing to read. Blessings to you, Nancy…

nrhatch - March 14, 2011

Thanks, Carol Ann. When we accept ourselves and others as and where we are, we stop struggling against the current.

We realize we can choose different, more productive thoughts. When we do, we learn to go with the flow ~ bouncing and bobbing like corks instead of wrestling to exhaustion with tidal waves.

14. oldancestor - March 14, 2011

I think humans are incined to follow patterns in thought and action. You know there are certain things you can say to certain people that will trigger the same story to be told or the same reaction. It may be the same inclination that causes writers to use the same cliches and people to rehash past slights or grievances.

nrhatch - March 14, 2011

Thanks, OA. You’re correct.

Some people feel “entitled” to be angry or upset . . . so they hang on to negative emotions far longer than is necessary.

When we say, “I’d rather be happy,” it’s easier to let the stale JUNK go and get on with our lives.

Letting go is a choice. One that we may need to make over and over again until the habitual pattern is broken and the slight or grievance fades away for good.

15. Pooja - March 14, 2011

You know Nancy, I just (ghost) wrote an article for someone which deals with the exact topic.

As far as I am concerned, I mostly succeed at letting go. So much has happened (and I don’t say that in a gloomy way) that I now am getting clearer day by day. I am not “there”, whatever that place is, yet I think I am trying to leave the shackles and look ahead.

Lovely post as ever.


nrhatch - March 14, 2011

Thanks, Pooja. Awesome topic for a ghost post!

In time, we realize that we are both prisoner and jailer . . . we are the ones who hold the keys to our freedom.

Like you, “I’m not there yet . . . but I’m getting closer. At times, I see glimpses of it on the horizon.”

16. Reflections: How Do We Find the Road to Calm in Chaotic Times? | Mirth and Motivation - March 14, 2011

[…] and remember the joy we get in simple beauty. Take some time to step away, back away from the scene, re-runs add to pain; they don’t make them go away… Refresh and remember the strength and the resilience of the […]

17. jannatwrites - March 14, 2011

It’s not always easy to let go of hurt feelings, but I find that they do fade. I agree that replaying them isn’t the best way to go.

If I feel like watching reruns, I much prefer to relive the happy moments, instead.

nrhatch - March 15, 2011

Thanks, Janna. I agree. I prefer comedies to tragedies.

I have a vague recollection of being angry and annoyed with various people throughout the years. But the reasons for that anger and frustration have evaporated.

I forgave them and now I can’t even remember what they did to “step on my toes.”

In contrast, I know someone who wanted to talk about the one time 20 years earlier that X and Y said good-bye to A and B . . . and they just waved to her but didn’t SAY good-bye! WOW!

We need to empty our wheelbarrow of woe if we want to made headway in life. Whatever energy we use for THAT . . . we don’t have for THIS.

18. Booksphotographsandartwork - March 14, 2011

Everything was kept secret when I was growing up. No talking about anything so I tend to be a scab picker. I guess a way of still working through it. I will talk things silly now. Usually the more I talk about something I will talk myself right into a solution or a better feeling or an insight.

nrhatch - March 15, 2011

Looking at a situation long enough to find a “solution,” or a better feeling about it, sounds productive ~ that’s like taking the time to clean out a wound so it doesn’t get infected and will heal properly.

In contrast, we can get upset at A about doing X . . . and then start thinking about when A did Y and when A did Z and when B did . . .

Instead of seeing what has happened and dealing with it . . . we pull a bunch of old baggage out of the closet and bury ourselves in sad, stale reruns. That’s apt to be a waste of time and energy.

19. eof737 - March 15, 2011

You have a point there… It is not easy to stop certain types of re-runs, like tragic events, but we do need to pause, take a deep breath and step away to clear our heads… You’re right, our mood wont shift if we don’t shift… I posted on that tonight and included your post as one of my good tips/ways to find calm in chaos. 🙂

nrhatch - March 15, 2011

Someone said the other day, “when a child dies, a parent will NEVER get over that.”

While I suspect that many would agree with that statement, I still wanted to respond, “Speak for yourself.”

It’s that type of statement that makes people feel guilty for moving on with their lives. They figure there must be something WRONG with them for not collapsing into a heap for the next 20-30 years.

There is nothing wrong with letting go of the sad stuff. Sometimes we hang on to sadness and sorrow out of a sense of obligation to the deceased . . . as if they want us to walk around with a perpetual raincloud over our head. I expect that departed loved ones would much rather know that we are happy once again.

When we think, “I’ll never get over this,” over and over and over, without examining its truth, it’s apt to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. And THAT’s sad.

nrhatch - March 15, 2011

And thanks. I look forward to reading your post. 😀

20. Snoring Dog Studio - March 16, 2011

Wonderful post. Very thoughtful. Your comment: Pain will wash away in time . . . as long as we don’t go chasing after it — I think this is true, however, I don’t want to forget the people and the pets I’ve lost. And when I do chase after their memories, the pain comes back full force. This might be what life is all about, though, so I deal with it.

nrhatch - March 16, 2011

If the pain comes back “full force,” I wonder if you are hanging on to the pain out of a sense of obligation to them? That you feel guilty for letting the pain recede so you resurrect the pain WITH the memory?

I remember people and pets I’ve lost without reliving the pain of losing them ~ I just embrace the happiness we shared. When I think of them now, I do so with a smile and nary a tear in sight. I kept the memories and the JOY we shared, and let the pain wash away.

Maybe in time you will be able to say the same.

21. Sandra Bell Kirchman - March 20, 2011

There’s an old saying, “What I see in you, I have in me.” Lots of people want to argue that point, but if we didn’t have a particular habit or quality within us, we wouldn’t recognize it in others. It makes me, for one, a lot more humble when someone really ticks me off.

I do believe that, and for that reason it does make it a LOT easier to forgive people. There are only two people I haven’t forgiven for past “sins” against me, and that’s going to take some work. However, in a long life of activity and working with people, I have a pretty clean slate. The one person, besides those other 2, that I am having a hard time forgiving…is myself. I’m working on that too.

Forgiveness paves the way to peace. And peace, inner peace, will let go of the past and embrace the present. I know…I’ve looked at both sides now. 🙂

Sandra Bell Kirchman - March 20, 2011

I forgot to mention that the “what I see in you, I have in me” thing also includes positive qualities. If I see greatness in someone, then I have that too. That puts a more positive spin on it.

nrhatch - March 20, 2011

Thanks, Sandra. Forgiveness does pave the way to peace.

As the Dalai Lama might say, “Don’t forgive for them, or to be perceived as a better person, or to gain favor with God or with Buddha. Forgive to be a happier person. That’s what forgiveness is all about.”

That’s a paraphrase since the original quote dealt with compassion, but it’s the gist of what his teaching said to me.

I found that once I forgave myself for my shortcomings . . . forgiving others came much more easily.

First, we must have the intent to forgive.
Then we must forgive, and forgive, and forgive again . . . until the bad feelings are gone.

nrhatch - March 20, 2011

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