Karma (from Wikipedia): action, work, or deed. The term also refers to the spiritual principle of cause and effect, often descriptively called the principle of karma, wherein intent and actions of an individual (cause) influence the future of that individual (effect):
What did you do today when you woke up?
Did you get up, shower, brush your teeth, wash your face, and then put on the exact same dirty clothes that you wore yesterday? The ones with the ketchup stain on the jeans and the musty sweaty smell in the shirt? Probably not. You started today fresh by cleaning your body and putting on clean clothes. But did you put on a fresh outlook, a clean mental view, or, are you carrying the anger and resentment for things that happened in the past?
To often walk the exact same emotional path that we walked yesterday. As we’re leaving the house we consciously or un-consciously set ourselves up to be angry. We do this by picking up the emotional baggage that we left packed right there at the foot of the bed and proceed to carry it back out into the world with us.
Most of us understand the need to let go of any aspects in our life that hinder happiness, growth, and success. This should also include ideas, people, behavioral patterns, and unneeded feelings of anger and resentment that no longer serve us.
“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.” Mark Twain
Do you say, “I’ve been hurt. I have been treated unfairly. This is their fault, and I need for them to be held accountable for it”. Every single one of those statements is shifting ownership of your emotions away from you and trying to force somebody else to take accountability for the anger that you are feeling.
That’s not the way it works.
The only person who is accountable for your emotions, your well-being, your mental state is you.
“But that’s not fair! Why do they get to get off scot-free and I have to live with the pain?!”
You don’t. You don’t have to live with the pain. This is mental baggage. It’s great big steamer trunks full of anger and resentment and hurt that you have agreed to carry around with you.
When you look to someone else to take accountability for your anger, when you want them to acknowledge the pain that they have caused you, to show remorse, when you want them to be accountable for it, what you’re saying is that you want them to pick up and carry that baggage.
They are probably not going to do that because in a very real sense, it’s your baggage. The thing is, you cab choose to not pick up and carry that baggage.
Each of us is given the power to make a choice. Do we unburden ourselves of our anger and resentment that we’re feeling, or, are we going to try and lug all of that with us wherever we go?
It’s not just mentally exhausting. It is physiologically exhausting to carry it all with you. So don’t.
There is a saying that when you resent somebody, you become his or her slave. “Holding a resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”
I am not saying that the past does not have importance. Of course, it does. Everything is a lesson. Everything is learning. Everything is a moment to grow and evolve. But it’s gone. It’s behind you and unless you have mastered time travel you will not be able to change the past.
Dragging all of that anger and resentment forward with you is poison that you are choosing to put right back into your own psyche.
You have ownership for two things: One is who you were yesterday. Own it. That is not, however, who you are today. Who you are today is who you are really accountable to. Today is not going to be improved by hanging on to the pain and anger of yesterday. Whether that means forgiving yourself or just letting go of the transgression that someone else has done to you.
Oh, trust me, it’s not going to be easy, because we want closure! We want to see that they have accepted what they did, atoned for it, and apologized.
Well, if that’s what you’re waiting for, you’re cheating yourself. You only have accountability for today. So just as you’re going to choose what you’re going to do when you get up today, what outfit you’re going to wear today, what route you’re going to take to get to work today, you also have the accountability of deciding the emotional state that you are going to bring with you. Are you going to bring anger with you? Are you going to bring fear with you? Are you going to bring hurt with you? Or are you going to say, “that’s yesterday me. That’s not today.”
Please understand, I’m not doctor, a therapist, or a clinical psychologist. I’m probably not going to solve psychological turmoil in this rambling post, but I doubt that you are either. All that either of us can do is say, “Okay. That was not today. That was yesterday. I am not the person I was yesterday. I will choose to not carry this anger today.”
But where’s the fairness? I was hurt. They made me angry. They pissed me off. They don’t get to just walk away.
Well, yeah, they kinda do, actually. When you pick up that mental baggage, what you’re deciding is that THEY got to determine that YOU didn’t get to walk away. They handed you a bunch of crap, you accepted it, you packed it into your luggage, and each day you decide that this is your burden to carry, and you take it back out with you. But why? I would rather not, because that shit’s heavy.
You don’t really have to do that. There’s a couple of conditions that go with that. You have to make a mental choice that you’re not going to pick up that baggage. There is a real danger in lugging that hurt and anger around with you, In your quest to find someone else to hold accountable for your anger and your pain, you are poisoning your own opportunity for success and a better future.
What about Karma?
I’ve always felt that the principle of Karma is slightly misunderstood. The principle of Karma is that action and intent i.e. the “good deeds” or “bad deeds” does will ultimately shape the future of that individual, the “result” if you will. But we shift that thinking to mean that bad people will be rewarded with bad things and that this is how cosmic justice is found.
That’s not how I relate to Karma. Simply put I believe that the principle of Karma says that the thoughts and emotions we hold today directly influences our own outcomes and opportunity for success tomorrow.
That’s not about looking at somebody else, that’s about holding ourselves accountable for our own outcomes.
I suspect you already know all this, don’t you. You are already aware that being mad and pissed off at someone else doesn’t make you feel better. It just makes you mad and pissed off. It doesn’t actually change or improve anything.
Somebody else telling you this is not going to work because nobody else can tell you to put down that baggage. Nobody else can tell you to move on. The only person that you’re going to listen to is you. That’s the only action that is going to work, and, it’s hard to do.
Do I choose to get up today and retrace and repeat the same actions, feelings, and emotions that I had yesterday? Will I choose to pick up that baggage and take it with me? Or, do I start today with a fresh mental outlook the same way that I chose to put on fresh clothes?
That does not mean that halfway through the day I get to go back and pick it up. No. You’ve got to leave it there. Trust me. Give it some time. Feel the absence of the weight that you are no longer carrying. Consider very carefully whether or not you want to pick that baggage back up.
Make good choices.
For additional thoughts on methods for working through anger and resentment I recommend that you check out these great articles from Psychology Today