The heat of an argument can burn bright and fast, but the aftermath – the slow, smolder from the burns of what was said – can be the real problem. In the moment, when you’re angry and upset, you can say and do things that can haunt you and the person you’re fighting with for days, weeks even months afterwards. In a really bad situation, this feeling of being haunted can last for years.
It can be so easy to replay a moment again and again in your head. Perhaps you’re wondering how someone you care about could say that to you. On the other hand, you could be trying to work out why you said or did something in particular. One of the worst feelings is when you realize what you should’ve told the other person and now, you’ll never have the chance.
Dwelling on these moments can cause you to put your life on hold if you’re not careful. There comes a time, when you just have to let it go. If you don’t, you run the risk of being caught up in the “what if” and “how could they” forever. But, how do you let go when you’re still hurting?
Break the Thinking Habit
We get caught in a feedback loop. Every time something triggers a memory of the argument, your thoughts go down the rabbit hole of what was said and done. It’s important to assess what your triggers are and find a way to fight off the thought patterns that inevitably follows.
You can do this by focusing on your body. This works because of the philosophy that “minds time travel, bodies do not”. Start by focusing on your breath and not letting other thoughts interfere. Then open up your focus slowly to the rest of your body. Only once you are fully present in your body, start to become aware of sounds, smells and then sights around you. This brings your mind back into the present and out of the past, where bad arguments and painful memories dwell.
Forgive Them and Forgive Yourself
There are very few cases where you are completely right and they are completely wrong in an argument. Much like NRL Premiership odds, things can swing either way. One of the main reasons that we can’t let go of an argument is because we realize that we had a role to play in what happened – even if right was on our side at the time. This is why learning to forgive is so vital. It’s also essential that in the process of letting go and forgiving, you let yourself off the hook.
Start by asking yourself if you stand to lose anything by forgiving and releasing the grudge you’ve been holding. It’s not an easy process and can be very painful to come to terms with if the argument was a big one with someone you really care about. The problem is that holding onto resentment becomes a crutch and a comfort, and can make you feel vulnerable if you let go of it.