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Monday, January 19, 2009

Getting Over It Sooner or Later

When you start realizing that your thinking is something you can change about at will, in order to best suit your inner and outer health and well-being, you can get on a real roller-coaster ... because you begin to realize how easy it is.

You decide how to think about something. If a bad thing happens, you decide how to focus on it, which way to look at it. If an unexpected delay or impediment comes up, you decide how to focus on it, which way to look at it.

It really applies to everything.

And so thinking about this the other day, I listened to the story being told about something Hemingway writes about in Islands in the Stream. Apparently a man had just been notified that his son had been killed in the war overseas. And that night he was out dancing. Someone angrily remonstrated with him, saying: How can you be dancing if your son was just killed?

His answer?

I know that I will have to get over it sooner or later, so I have simply chosen when that will be.

This may seem heartless, even cruel. But think about it. Whom does it serve for him to spend weeks and months grieving? A psychotherapist such as myself might say that he needs to grieve in order to find closure. Perhaps so. Perhaps most do. But perhaps much of it is in our minds.

Just as it is in our minds when we decide to let something go that we have been holding on to for months, years, or even decades, such as resentment, bitterness, pain, anger, and hatred. We can choose to let go of that sooner or later as well. And isn't sooner better than later?

The energy with which we suffuse ourselves can be high or low, positive or negative, but it is really up to us, it remains our choice, and hence is our responsibility.

Photo: El Arco, Cabo San Lucas, Baja California


  1. How is it possible to differentiate the emotional unavailable person from the type of person described in this example ? There is obviously a fine line of major importance between the two but sometimes I do not see it clearly because emotional unavailable people whom I know appear to be very positive people. Thanking you.

  2. Emotionally unavailable people tend not to have any kind of relationship with their emotions. There is no connection with them. Hence unavailable.

    The attitude described in the post, however, has much more to do with accepting an emotion, recognizing it, and choosing when to move beyond it.

    An emotionally unavailable person is incapable of making this choice, as there is no recognition of the emotion in the first place, no connection with it, and hence, no choice to move beyond it. Such a person, for example, may have great pain in their past, but rather than having recognized it, dealt with it, and then chosen to move beyond it (in order to no longer need to define him or herself with the label of whatever that pain was), such a person has repressed, suppressed, or denied the pain.

    Such a choice is diametrically opposed to the choice described in the post.

  3. It is now clearer to me. Thanks so much for your answer and for all the material you provide in order to develop a better awareness. I love your blog and website in which I always find very insightful topics.