I’m encouraging you not to sink.

My mom always tells me to let whatever frustrates me roll off my back. “Be like a duck,” is the common phrase. However, for me, that was never easy. It was so easy to get worked up over the smallest misfortune, despite how much I tried to sooth myself into believing it wasn’t that big of a deal. Somehow, trying to let the slightest thing go felt like deleting that one picture that’s been on your phone for year, but you can’t part with. Yet, I didn’t just cling to the positive memories, but the bad ones as well. I was so easily manipulated into believing that the slightest change would affect me negatively and only negatively only. I claimed my reasoning was because I was a realist, which is still true, but this mindset took advantage of what I enjoyed.

It was always the little things. All of the little conflicts, problems, and self-doubt that kept building and building. So yes, little things do matter since sometimes they result in unwanted outbursts. Not only that, but they take away from the little (or big) bits of happiness you encounter. The bitterness that grows defeats the pleasantness eventually.

Giving in to what creates false images can severely damage a person both mentally and emotionally. Something that may seem small to one person, could have a much larger impact on another. These differences are usually the core of struggles related to bitterness. Misunderstandings, miscommunications, and different personalities all have their share. It’s so easy to fall into believing the comments and actions that make us feel inferior. Self-image seems to be one of the largest, and most influential subjects. There’s always that one person who said something that hurt us, and we hang onto it. There’s that one person you used to be so close with, but they let you down, so you hold it against them. There’s that one time that someone rubbed you the wrong way, and you let it get the best of you. It’s not a simple concept to recognize the differences at first, but I want to remind you that you do have control of how you handle the bitterness you encounter.

We like to claim that all of these different scenarios we face ruin us, yet we push the blame on others and never consider our role. Our refusal to accept that we too may have a part only ends up hurting us. The most difficult part is being able to let go.

“The more anger you hold in your heart towards the part, the less capable you are of loving the present.” -Shakira

As simple as these instructions may seem, it’s often the path not taken. Many times we confuse forgiveness with pride. We assume that if we do forgive and forget, it shows weakness towards the enemy that we’re holding our grudge against. Who wants to admit they’re wrong to the person they want to prove wrong? It’s a natural human characteristic I must admit, but it doesn’t and never will make life easier. Letting go of the grudges from years ago, the pain it caused you, and the moments that made your blood boil is one of the most rewarding feelings. When the topic is brought up, the satisfaction of being about to say, “Yeah, we grew into different people, and that’s okay” makes each breath a little bit lighter. There’s clarity in admitting the differences and the wrongs of the past. Allowing bitterness to tie you down and tell you how to feel or react is never beneficial.

“Stop remembering what God has forgotten.” -Psalm 103:12

So what good does holding onto the past and letting emotions that don’t reflect us represent us? Where is the benefit in feeling angry or hurt because of an event in the past? Sure, life tosses us struggles we don’t always know how to overcome at the time, but we have a choice. We can let the unimportant, irrelevant past consume us, or we can choose to let go and focus on the good; there’s always some good.