A few weeks ago I received a quote from a friend that said; “Letting go is the hardest thing there is, but without letting go you just stay where you don’t really want to be.” I knew there was a great deal of truth in those words, but I was not quite sure how I wanted to implement them myself. What was I supposed to let go of? Did I have to learn to let go of people or did I have to learn to let go of needs?
After I became aware of the difference between the healthy needs (physical and emotional) and the unhealthy needs (trauma) I decided to continue to focus on letting go of my trauma needs.
If trauma needs played such a big part in my life, what would happen if I started observing them more consciously and try letting go more often?
I decided to work very consciously with my trauma needs. My plan was to write them down as soon as I noticed their presence in my emotions and then write down a message for letting them go. Being able to distinguish the difference between healthy needs and trauma needs became easier and easier. As soon as I felt negative emotions (not as in bad, but as in feelings of unhappiness) I knew that there were trauma needs behind it. Then there would most likely have been an incident that had brought out painful emotions somewhere in my amygdala (the part of the brain that converts sensory information into emotions). An event that was thus linked to previous negative experiences and thus was linked to the painful emotional wounds that still had to be healed. And an incident that was linked to my painful emotional wounds caused my trauma needs to become instantly active and work very hard to heal that pain. Realizing this made it easier for me to notice and write them down.
I created a file in my phone in which I could easily write down all the perceived needs and got to work.
Writing down and also letting go of my trauma needs went well as long as someone didn’t play an important role in my life, but as soon as I encountered trauma needs from people who were closer to me I sometimes got confused. How could I let go of trauma needs with people from whom I could expect fundamental love, respect and care?
I thought back to words I said to my children some time ago, when we were talking about kids with whom they were friends at first and then no longer.
“You decide who you allow into your life, and the people you welcome into your life must be people who are good for you. If they’re not nice to you, you can just say, “We don’t fit into each other’s lives very well, and that’s okay” and then you let go of that person. Without having to be angry. You just don’t fit together very well. And then you just get on with your life and the people who do fit in well.
I also told them that it wasn’t about never having to see that person again, it was about not giving them your trust, love and friendship (for now). It was about whether you let someone into your own heart or not. As long as someone doesn’t handle your heart well, you’re not going to let that person into it. That’s not to say you have to be heartless to the people outside your heart. You can also remain friendly, but still not really admit someone to your own inner emotional world.
My children then came up with nice examples of kids who were indeed no longer friends because they had not been friendly and they also came up with nice examples of friends who still found it difficult to show love or be nice to them all the time, but from who they knew they couldn’t do anything about it because they were still struggling themselves. They could close those friends in their hearts because they knew, through self-confidence and self-worth, how to protect their own hearts from any negative behavior.
What I had told my children also answered my own question. I had a choice as to who I allowed in my heart and so I had also a choice as to who I no longer wanted in it.
I began to see my heart as a big circle. At its core were me and my children. The three people who have a fixed place in my heart. Apart from those three people, there was one very large, empty circle that I could fill-in myself with the names of people from which I knew and had experienced that the fundamental love, respect and care for me was authentic and genuine. They were the names of the people I knew enriched my life and so really wanted to have in the inner circle of my heart.
There were also names of people who had been in my heart for a long time, but who had always created an imbalance in the harmony of my heart and that I had to learn to let go of.
These were people I wanted to let go of for quite some time, but never succeeded because the people often still had a prominent place in my heart because of my own trauma needs or because I just simply cared about them and didn’t want to banish them from my life forever.
Letting go of my own trauma needs, filling the painful emotional void myself and the words I had uttered to my children proved to be the perfect combination for a life lesson of which I had long sought the answer; “Did I have to learn to let go of people or did I have to learn to let go of needs?” The answer lay somewhere the middle and I finally began to figure out how I could apply the answer in my life.
When it came down to letting go of needs, there were needs I had to let go of and needs I had to keep. The difference between which needs I had to let go of and which I had to keep was in the difference between my healthy emotional needs and trauma needs. Inside my circle lie the needs of my heart, the healthy emotional needs. From the people I admitted to my heart, I could expect from them to deal with my healthy emotional needs well. The needs of my heart were my basic human needs and I never had to let go of those needs. Out of respect and love for myself, I had to keep those needs at all costs.
The needs that lay outside my circle were my trauma needs. They were needs that stemmed from the need to heal emotional pain, and that’s why I held on to people from outside my circle. In my relationship with those people, there were still emotional old wounds that had yet to be healed. This was the reason (besides my love for some of those people) that I had always held on to those people. I thought I needed their help to heal. Now that I had made it clear to myself that I can and must heal those wounds myself without the help of others, I could also learn to let go of those trauma needs.
When it came down to letting people go, the answer was also less black and white than simply choosing between holding on or letting go. I didn’t necessarily have to banish people from my life in order to escape or heal the emotional pain, I just had to make the choice not to let them into my inner circle, my heart, anymore. That was not to say that I had to be heartless to the people outside my heart. I could also stay friendly, but still not really admit someone to my inner emotional world. I had the choice to say, “We don’t fit into each other’s lives very well, and that’s okay. I’ll let you go without being angry.” And then just get on with my life and the people who do fit in well.
This is not to say that the persons in question would never be welcome in my heart again, my heart is big and strong enough to forgive, but only if there is authentic and human fundamental love, respect and care.
Letting go of the trauma needs with the people who are close to me is less easy than letting go of the trauma needs with people who are further away from me, but not impossible and for me definitely worth trying because it will help me emotionally heal and grow at the same time.
Anger stems from the trauma need and belief that the person who caused an emotional wound should help heal. As I learn to let go of the trauma need, I free myself from the anger. I can then heal the grief from the emotional wound myself by satisfying healthy emotional needs myself.
“Resentment is like taking poison yourself and hoping that the other person gets sick from it.”
I’m not going to ask for love.
I’m not going to beg for respect.
I’m not going to hope for affection.
And longing for correct.
I’m not going to adapt.
I’m not going to ignore.
I’m not going to change.
And hope for the approval of others anymore.
I’m not going to be quiet.
I’m not going to plea.
I’m not going to settle.
And just do what others ask of me.
I’m not going to allow.
I’m not going to be hampered.
I’m not going to tolerate.
And raise my own standard.