Originally appeared in Planet Jackson Hole

How relinquishing hurt and hostility helps to heal the heart and the mind.

A Buddhist wisdom teaching explains that when you get hurt, say, by an arrow, you feel pain; the arrow hitting your arm hurts.

However, the teaching goes on to say there is a second arrow, which is your reaction to the arrow that hurt. The getting angry, the planning revenge, the retelling the story, the meaning you give it, that is considered different from pain. That part is self-created suffering. That part is the story you make of it, which becomes the stuff of grudges.

Collecting grudges is toxic. It is like carrying the perpetrator(s) around with you all the time, and is a sure way to slow down and limit what's possible in your life. Where do the grudges go? They are all stored in the physical body. What does that energy do? Science has shown that it interferes with all levels of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. Ouch.

A better option

We may not have control over experiencing pain in our lives, but we do have control over adding self-created suffering to the pain. The next time someone cuts you off in traffic or doesn't return your call or is rude to you, or worse, you do not have to create a "second arrow reaction." It is optional to pile on suffering by creating grudges and grievances. We all have control over the suffering part.

Reactions to avoid

Here are three reactions to any unpleasant experience, which typically lead to building burdensome grievances.

Taking the offense too personally. If you still feel angry and are still ruminating about it long after the event, you have taken it too personally.

Blaming the offender for how you feel. This attitude gives away your power. You then make your well-being dependent on someone else, over whom you have no control, in order for you to feel OK.

Nourishing a grievance story by telling and retelling it over and over to yourself and to others. Like picking a scab, this keeps the hurt alive.

Truths that help to let go

People's actions are not personal; they are a reflection/projection of what they are tackling or experiencing at that moment. If someone is having a bad day and they are grouchy or rude to you, it's about them, not you. If you already know the person or can tell someone is discontent and will take it out on you, then duck.

Everyone is doing the best they can, given who they are and what they are dealing with. You are the one who has control over your actions and reactions, no matter what's going on.

People are who they are. It is so important to let go of wanting, hoping, expecting someone to be different from how he or she is; that's a set up for your victim complaint/hurt/grudge.

Benefits of letting go

Letting go is a choice. It is an inside job, which upgrades health, mental clarity and gives you more energy. Here are three of the benefits.

Letting go is about making yourself the hero or heroine of your story rather than the victim.

Letting go is upgrading your health by no longer inviting the negative energy and the perpetrator with you everywhere you go.

Letting go increases your compassion for others and for yourself, which opens the heart.

Path to the heart

The heart is the connection to soul, intuition, higher guidance and expanded consciousness. Letting go of the reaction stories in life is a powerful heart opener. An open heart is the prerequisite for spiritual evolution. PJH