What Are You Holding On To By Pushing It Down?

Odd Question?

Sounds like an odd question, doesn’t it? Mark Nepo, in The Book of Awakening, says, “What is not ex-pressed gets de-pressed.” So, today I ask myself, what needs to get uncovered? What needs to see the light of day, get felt fully, expressed to myself, then set free? The past few days, I’ve felt slighted by a few people in the outer part of my circle. Missed connections, unanswered emails – things that happen often enough; things I’ve been guilty of. Yet this felt different somehow.

Holding On

When I reflected a bit, poked around a bit, I found a huge pile of perceived slights, a bit smelly by now, growing mold, taking up space. I’d pushed them down until they became like those odd, awful things you find in the bottom of the vegetable bin when you haven’t cleaned out your refrigerator in recent memory. The more I’d pushed them down, the bigger – and smellier – they got. No surprise there.

The more I’d hold on, the more convinced I became that these slights were not overblown or imagined – they were absolutely real. I thought of that old childhood ditty, “Nobody loves me, everybody hates me – I’m gonna eat some worms.” Well, no – I don’t think so. Holding on, depressing clearly isn’t a workable strategy.


So that means expressing – at least to myself – what I’m feeling. It doesn’t necessarily mean sharing and it doesn’t mean a deep, long therapeutic intervention. Like so many others, I’ve known the roots of these insecurities for decades. Instead, I think, it means making better use of my internal radar. It means stopping, breathing, reflecting, and asking the Byron Katie question, “Is that true?” before doing or feeling anything. And it means expressing my hurt or frustration to myself rather than pushing those feelings down like yet another piece of fruit of a questionable age left to rot in the vegetable bin.

Letting Go

I find that once I’ve expressed how I’m feeling, once I’ve looked for the truth behind the feeling, I can start to let go. I can stop feeling sorry for myself long enough to be reminded of the circle of love that surrounds me. I can think about what I might be doing to close off possibilities to expand that circle. I can reach out to find new ways to create openings for those on the outer edges. I can think of what I might be doing to push people away out of fear of future real or imagined rejection.


Over the weekend, as part of a thorough cleaning, I took the time to clean out the vegetable bins. It had been a while, and there were some nasty surprises. Yesterday, I started doing the same with my friendship circles. My intention? No more nasty surprises.

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