4 Steps to Let Go of Stress, Negativity, and Emotional Pain

“It’s not the bite of the snake that kills you, it’s the poison left behind.” ~Tom Callos Have you ever taken it to heart when someone said or did something mean to you? The likely answer is yes; most people have experienced negativity from another person—and it hurts. But why did you take it personally? Because, like all of us, you want love. And we often assume when someone is mean to us that it means that we are unlovable. Now, when a person is mean to me, I choose not to accept what they are offering. Also, I recognize that they are doing it because they are hurting inside and don’t know how to express love. This was the case for me as child. I was a very sensitive, and I received a fair amount of emotional bullying from my older brother. He repeatedly called me a loser and made fun of me. I am not entirely sure why he did this, but I know he was hurting inside. He seemed to be unhappy a lot of the time. My mom believes this was due to her and my father expecting a lot from him, being the oldest child. I looked up to my brother, but the mean things he did hurt me to my core, because I let the emotional poison build up and take me over. It got to the point where it became physically painful. By age ten, I had put up emotional walls so I could block anyone from hurting me—or so I thought. This turned me into an unloving, uncompassionate, and judgmental person. I would emotionally bully people, just like my brother had done to me. I would make fun of how certain people would dress, look, or speak. I wound pick apart other people’s insecurities to make myself feel better. Shortly after that, I began noticing how insecure I was. I was afraid of being judged by others and doing anything that made me stick out. The fear of judgment was so gut-wrenching that it stopped me from doing things I wanted to do, like join the high school basketball and rugby teams, and ask girls on dates. In my late teens I realized that I needed to make some changes in my attitude, but I did not know where to start. Shortly after putting out that intention, I felt drawn to Buddhism. I would read books here and there, but did not commit to making any real changes. I did feel a pull to go to a Buddhist monastery, but I thought to myself, “I don’t have time for that.” By age twenty my spirit forced me to take action. One night after work, I was walking into the kitchen and dropped a glass. I tried to catch it as it fell, but it smashed and cut my left index finger down to the bone. I was rushed to the hospital and bandaged up. The next day I had surgery on my finger to reattach the nerve. Shortly after that, I [...]