Letting Others Off the Hook Isn’t Easy
I’ve been doing some writing this morning and something interesting came up that I hadn’t considered about my own journey. I talk all the time about the concept of letting other people off the hook, but what I don’t talk about is that I did that very early on in my own journey.
The people around me were in pain too. The idea of having conversations with these people as a form of healing, wasn’t really available to me. What some people do with that is they let it victimize them. They take that and use it as an excuse to stay where they are. What I did with it was just let those people off the hook. I didn’t victimize myself with it. It wasn’t a conscious thing. I just sort of knew somewhere inside me that if I wanted to heal it had to come from within me and it couldn’t be about others.
I see now that if I had made my healing conditional on others, it would have kept me in the loop of powerlessness. I would have gotten stuck very quickly, but that wasn’t a conscious thought then. That was something I came to later.
There was a lot of power in the choice that I made back then, even without totally knowing what I was doing. Letting other people off the hook by taking responsibility for your own feelings and your own actions is hard. It’s really a hard thing for some people to do. They want to bring other people with them. They feel the need for closure in those relationships. The problem is that if the other person is in pain too, they can’t give you that. They don’t have it to give. They would have to heal too and they may or may not be ready to do that.
By making my healing journey only about me in that respect, it freed me in a lot of ways. Yes, the goals or the point of the healing was still external, but I understood that I didn’t have control over what other people were doing. Asking other people for permission to heal was only going to keep me stuck in the pain. I had to be willing to move on my own and that was the first place where I did that actively.
Forgiveness comes later by the way. I don’t use the word forgiveness very often because it really is the end game. It’s where you get to after you take responsibility for your own stuff fully. It’s where you get to after you release the blame. You don’t start there. Forgiveness happens naturally once you let people off the hook. You will end up there, but it’s more like a balloon that’s being directed by the wind than it is a remote control car that you’re driving. It’s the place you go because that’s the way the wind is blowing. It’s not the place you go because the GPS is set for that destination.
When we take responsibility for our own stuff and we stop blaming and we stop making our healing conditional on other people, then we allow ourselves to move forward freely. A lot of the external stuff stops mattering. You just take the healing inside and do the work on your own. Even when the goal is healing relationships, you can’t actively do that until you’re okay fully within yourself. Healing may look different in reality than what you envision. It is possible that the other person stays in pain and you have to leave them where they are. You can only do that when you’re fully okay within yourself because it’s only from that place that you accept the what is and you’re able to see the pain of others and not take it on yourself.
When you try to heal relationships before you’re ready, you end up victimizing yourself, telling stories about what happened, and it often creates more pain. I’ve done this. I know what this is like. Your ability to be okay within yourself is what allows you to heal the relationship even when it means the other person stays in pain. You know it’s not yours and you no longer pick it up. You don’t make them responsible for your pain anymore. You allow them to have their pain and you take yours back. You stop projecting. You simply find compassion.
This takes work. It took me years to get here to be able to do that. The first step for me was healing in such a way that other people weren’t responsible for it, nor did it require them to heal too. They could stay in their stuff and I could be okay anyway. That sounds awful, but the truth is we need to get better at being compassionate without jumping in the pool of pain too. It’s possible when you can fully let others off the hook and take complete responsibility for yourself and how you feel, regardless of what other people may or may not be doing.
Healing is a process. Understanding ourselves and our pain takes time. One of the places where we can make things easier on ourselves is by removing the need to hook others into what we’re doing. Learning to let go of the blame and the projection of pain helps in that process. It’s still not easy, but it makes the rest of the healing journey much more manageable. When we’re no longer dependent on others and their actions, we free ourselves to move forward on our own power. You’re going to need that. It’ll make a difference later on.
Love to all.