For the last week the words attributed to George Herbert, 17th century poet, have been swirling around in my head.
“Living well is the best revenge” just didn’t seem to sit with me. Knowing the subconscious mind takes concepts literally, I didn’t want the revenge idea to withdraw from the idea of experiencing or even moving towards a ‘good living’ situation for me or others. So I spent time looking for synonyms. Some of them felt better and I was going to start working on this piece… then other ‘stuff’ delayed my writing.
As I decided to get back to this subject, I started with the quote and stopped mid-sentence. It dawned on me that there wasn’t really a need to add another word to replace ‘revenge’.
“Living well is the best” was a complete sentence, and with that in mind, let’s look at the mind and the alchemy of living even ‘better’…
One of the reasons I wanted to exclude the word revenge is because it requires something external. With the definition “the action of inflicting hurt or harm on someone for an injury or wrong suffered at their hands”, revenge necessitates a negative reaction to a past, usually negative, drama or trauma.
Many of us have had this experience before, whether major or minor in our lives, when we’ve thought or acted in a way that aims to ‘get even’ for some hurt that has been caused by another person, situation, or perception.
I’m not an advocate of others injuring or wronging you in any way. And being a glutton for punishment or not having the boundaries or ability to keep yourself safe is something that, if it isn’t working for you now, is a pattern you can unlearn and shift. Revenge type retribution, however, this really is a situation where ‘two wrongs’ definitely don’t make ‘a right’.
When we spend our mental, emotional or physical energy focusing on the pain of the past with the sole intention of hurting the other person back, we waste our resources on a story that isn’t about us. We have more experience, insight and information about our own lives now than ever before. That ‘me’ that was hurt, isn’t the same ‘me’ I am now. It’s like the impossibility of stepping into the same river twice.
When we only focus on ourselves frozen in an earlier point in our lives, we may fail to learn any lessons that the experience may have taught us. Because we’re so focused on ‘teaching them’, subsequent opportunities, shifts or discoveries tend not to happen (or be noticed).
Mistakes are the portals of discovery – James Joyce
Not OK and New Definitions
As I mentioned before, others hurting us, whether intentionally or accidentally, is not OK. We never have to like it.
That’s not necessary for freedom to live well. Yet clinging onto past hurts seems to be a fairly sure way to NOT live as well as we’d like.
Have you ever had a dream with a weird/negative situation and you’re a part of it – being late for a test you haven’t studied for (or the like) is quite common – yet you can’t get out of the dream and it becomes a nightmare? That’s the same with holding onto our negative past. We’re really not in it now, but we run the same story over and over. It is real in our minds and so we continue to feel it so strongly
Albert Einstein is quoted as saying “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new”. When we look back at our own errors, we can sometimes feel badly. If we had only known then what we know now, things would have been different. But we didn’t. And we were doing the best we could at the time.
Others are too (doing the best with what they’ve got). Even if they are limited or twisted up by their experiences, that is all they have to give. We may feel sad about our loss, but that’s all they had with their knowledge, inheritances or resources…
Words have power so one step is to look at our words (like revenge) and see what might work better. We can forgive, but needn’t forget (the lessons we learned). We can let go while not giving up. We can be undeterred by, rather than do something ‘in spite’ of something or someone. When we shift our words we may start to see ourselves as the challenged protagonist or hero, rather than the sidelined or powerless victim.
If you need help letting go and moving through past hurts or lessons, hypnosis can help.
‘If there is a solution to the problem, there is no need to worry. If there is no solution, there is no sense in worrying either”. H H Dalai Lama, The Art of Hapiness
Once you start to let go of the slowing weight of carrying the past with you, you can start moving forward towards ‘living well’. But what does living well mean?
More specifically, what does living well mean TO YOU?
Just as trying to please absolutely everyone tends to result in failure, trying to aim for someone else’s ideal life may not only be challenging, but unfulfilling as well.
Is a big house living well? For some people, it may be. And that’s great. For others, a smaller home means less cleaning (yeah), more resources for travel (hurrah) or different, non-property related investments (yippee). [Full disclosure – this is an example of the writer’s priorities and ‘living well’ ideas only…]
Sometimes our culture, parents, society, education etc. draw a picture of success that doesn’t fit our own internal image, needs, situation or motivation. It may require some emotional courage to buck the trend of ‘keeping up with the Joneses’, but the results may be much more fulfilling FOR YOU.
It may be easier as well because we bring our own strengths and flow to our own definition of ‘well’.
Aspects of Wellness
There are many ways to ‘cut’ wellness. Different aspects to consider could be emotional, mental, physical, social, spiritual, environmental/prosocial, occupational, intellectual, and financial – to name a few.
With 24 hours in the day, no matter how productive you may be (especially with the subconscious mind at peak), there may need to be some priorities or both short- and long-term foci to create the life you feel content to live.
Here are a few imaginative exercises that may help you get oriented so you can start framing your life in terms that work for you well/best. (If you need help, let me know – hypnosis is great for shifting direction and creating movement towards goals):
1. Imagine each aspect of wellness above (or the areas that are important for you) in a separate place. For example, what would your ‘ideal’ physical wellness be? What would your ‘happy’ physical wellness be? Sometimes these two are close and yet so far away. How do they make you feel? What are you able to do? How does it affect others around you? What are the benefits?
2. Take a look at each aspect from another viewpoint. It could be someone you care about. It could be from the perspective of another aspect of life (for example, if you’re at the office 18 hours a day, even in a job you love, you may miss some social, spiritual or physical aspects at the expense of occupational or financial wellness). Is there anything you might lose in one aspect by putting all your time and energy into another? When goals are in conflict, it can slow us down or have us stumble in the ‘good life’.
3. Imagine as many aspects of wellness as you can together. How do they work? There may be some balancing or shifting that happens – it’s great to be open to the ups and downs that come with a change of direction. Make it as positive and real as you can – this gives the subconscious a sonar point to aim for, to help you in discovering ways to get there.
4. As you imagine it deeply, you may ask for a guiding word or principal – this can be a ‘short cut’ for you to return to when you feel you’re getting off course. This journey of a thousand miles starts with baby steps, so make sure you notice them (it will also help you get back on track if you make a misstep).
While there is a difference between ‘dreaming’ and ‘doing’, it can often help to get our minds aligned to highlight what is truly important, draw towards us what we need, and release what we don’t, so we can live well on our own terms.
“All experiences are preceded by mind, having mind as their master, created by mind” The Buddha.
When you need support with any aspect of your own wellness, please contact me – I love working with people who want to live their life well (no revenge needed!)
All my best, Jennifer