The Union Path

Navigating Difficult Relationships and the Power of Letting Go

Have you ever harbored a silent grudge, replaying perceived wrongs in your mind over and over? We've all been there, stewing silently in resentment, and, in this episode, we unpack this all too common behavior. We take an in-depth look at the silent umbrage phenomenon, exploring the reasons behind it and the burdens it brings. We also delve into the often confusing world of difficult interpersonal relationships, illuminating the challenges and risks that come with confronting those who cause us harm, especially when power dynamics are in play.

Then, we transition into a liberating discussion on the power of letting go. We reveal how releasing our grudges and past hurts can catalyze personal transformation and open up new doors of opportunity. Shedding light on how this act of freeing ourselves can lead to healthier relationships and overall well-being, we empower you with tools to navigate these complex human interactions. So join us for this enlightening conversation that might just shift your perspective on conflict and personal liberation. Remember, it's never too late to change the direction of your interpersonal dynamics.

--------- EPISODE CHAPTERS  ---------

(0:00:00) - Navigating Difficult Interactions and Silent Umbrage (7 Minutes)

We explore the idea of 'silent umbrage' - the tendency of some of us to ruminate on resentments against other people, often for wrongs we've experienced in the past. We reflect on how this process can be confusing, and how difficult people can often be difficult for a reason. We discuss the cost of calling out the difficult people in our lives, and the liberating feeling of being able to speak our truth and confront people when necessary.

(0:06:56) - Navigating Difficult Interpersonal Relationships (13 Minutes)

We explore the nuances of confronting difficult people. We discuss the risks and dangers of unleashing someone's full rage and fury when we confront them, as well as the challenge of forming relationships with difficult people. We consider when confronting is a good idea, and when to internally let things go. We also look at how to deal with these situations when the power dynamics are tricky, such as when dealing with a boss or parent. Lastly, we emphasize the importance of allowing ourselves to feel our pain and the need to find someone safe to talk to about the conflict.

(0:20:12) - Letting Go for Personal Transformation (4 Minutes)

We consider the power of letting things go and how it can liberate us from unhealthy patterns and create new possibilities. We talk about how this can change the trajectory of the relationships we create and sustain, allowing us to start fresh and open up probabilities for good. We discuss how we have the authority and the power to let things go whenever we wish and how doing so can open up a new world of possibilities.

Full episode transcript available at:

What is The Union Path?

Mindful monologues to awaken your consciousness and nourish your soul.

In this introspective podcast, I aim offer you heartfelt rumination to inspire your own growth and self-discovery.

Are you seeking deeper meaning, truth, purpose or peace in your life? Join me as I unfold observations and awareness along the spiritual path - what I have learned, struggled with, found insight into.

Let these moving soliloquies gently prompt self-inquiry as you contemplate the deeper questions we all face: why do you suffer? How can you cultivate more inner calm and wisdom?

There is no dogma here, only my pondering as I illuminate and ponder our shared experiences living.

My hope is that by modeling raw exploration rooted in courageously questioning “why?”, these thoughtful meanderings awaken self-understanding and nourish your soul.

Consider these unconventional audio journal entries as a way to inspire and awaken your own internal wise teacher, taking your hand to guide you in looking within your own mysterious inner landscape in a new way. Feel less alone. Find inspiration to expand your self-awareness and consciousness with me each week.

The Union Path

"Silent Umbrage"


0:00:20 - John Coleman
People are funny. Being a person is kind of funny. There are these weird things that people do. There's these weird things I do, there's probably weird things you do that if we reflect on them they're just kind of peculiar, kind of humorous, kind of odd, especially things that we think are doing something. But with even a little bit of analysis, a little bit of introspection, a little bit of looking at a little bit more closely, we realize it's kind of pointless and maybe even kind of pointless and kind of stupid.

And one of these things, at least in my experience, is this idea of silent umbrage, of walking around and harboring and festering and feeding resentments, usually against other people, usually against other people for things that they've done to us, for the ways they've wronged us, for the way we felt cheated or denied something that we had coming, or just we were treated in a lousy way. That made us feel bad, made us feel worse, made us feel bad about ourselves, that triggered our defenses, that triggered our defensiveness, that caused us to kind of have this constant, low-level, latent rumination of trying to make ourselves right, trying to make ourselves good, trying to reconcile and rectify whatever identity or ego or emotional damage we felt as part of an interaction with another person. This can often happen when we're rejected, when we're treated unfairly or when we just run across unreasonable people and we kind of feel a little crazy because we kind of feel like we're being gaslit a little bit, because what often happens when we encounter unreasonable people is in their minds they're the reasonable ones, we're the unreasonable ones, and they can give endless reasons why we're actually being unreasonable, why we're in the wrong, why we're doing the wrong thing and it's a little crazy making because their arguments are compelling, they're really good at it, because being unreasonable is a skill. It's not something you can just do easily. It's something that has to be maintained. If you're a difficult person, that's actually a skill, that's actually a talent. Now, it's not a positive talent, it's not something I would aspire to.

But when I look at the people that I know that are the most unreasonable, that the most difficult, I kind of, if I'm honest, have to look at them with just a little bit of respect and awe, like, wow, you are really good at being terrible. You are really good at constructing realities that have no bearing on what I know to be true. Like that, that really is something and you really are going for it, you really are all in it. But regardless, this can still be really painful to run across these sorts of people.

It can be really confusing and difficult to be in a situation where we feel we're the crazy ones, we feel like we're the ones who've done something wrong, we're the ones who are bad, we're the ones who are difficult, we're the ones who are broken, which for some of us, is true. No matter how put together we are, we're a little fractured, we're a little broken somewhere. We're not completely perfect everywhere. Our responses and interactions aren't always perfect. We are absolutely positively fallible, and so there are areas where a little bit of introspection is always a good thing, of making sure that we're not the crazy ones, we're not the unreasonable ones. But usually, when we've done that and we kind of get to a point where we feel we've been mistreated by someone for whatever reason, we can harbor that resentment. We can sort of freeze that, umbrage that resentment inside of us and constantly keep reflecting to it and constantly keep referencing it, constantly, keep bringing it up Like it's a mosquito bite that we can't just not itch, that we can't just not scratch. We have to keep thinking about it and oftentimes this manifest is walking around with arguments in our head of really telling this other person off, really telling this person how crazy they are, how wrong they are, how difficult they are, telling them how much damage they've caused, telling them how bad of a person they are, telling them how incompetent they are, telling them how stupid they are, telling them how ridiculous they are. Whatever difficult feelings we have about these people, just on and on and on and on recycling and recycling and recycling those conversations internally, over and over and over again.

For many of us we never actually say any of us out loud. For some of us we may not even realize we're really doing this. It's just become a habit. We're kind of constantly walking around just totally locked and loaded, ready to just shoot both barrels of all of our resentment, all of our anger towards this other person. And they may have already been walking around with no idea because we never actually tell them, we never actually express it. But that's what keeps it circulating and that a lot of times it is very cathartic.

It is a tremendous relief to actually express to difficult people the difficult thing that you need them to know To confront people who will punish you for telling the truth and tell them the truth to their face. Say what needs to be said to the person that needs to hear it when they need to hear it. Being able to get to this point is extremely liberating. It frees us. It frees us from being the one that always has to take the damage, always has to take the hit, always has to make up for the deficits in other people.

But of course anyone who's been alive very long knows there's a cost in doing this, that difficult people are difficult for a reason and often a difficult person will not respond with kindness and appreciation when you call them on how difficult they are when you call out truth. They've been trying really hard to hide, really hard to distract from, really hard to explain away that they kind of walk around with this like rational smoke bomb that they set off whenever anyone starts to point towards the truth. They're there with a diversion. They're there to point out all the things wrong with you. They're there to point out all the things wrong with whatever situation they're in, how they're actually the victim, how they're actually put upon by ridiculousness or difficulty or injustice or whatever it is bad treatment of some sort.

These situations are really difficult to walk through, because sometimes we might think it might be freeing, it might be liberating, to express our truth to another person, and they can end up doing the exact opposite. They can end up triggering the full force and might of their own defenses and then they end up attacking us. So if we've been through this a time or two, it's no wonder we're a little reluctant, we're a little reticent to confront difficult people, because we don't want to be subject to their full rage and fury, that oftentimes, when they were difficult to us, they were kind of on their best behavior. They were still trying to get something, they still had something to lose. But now, when we're confronting them, they have nothing to lose and they can unleash the full force of the defenses they've built up over time.

So what do we do in this situation? What do we do if we spot ourselves walking around with a silent umbrage? What do we do if we spot ourselves walking around having endless arguments with the same person or people over and over and over again, trying to make ourselves right, trying to prove a point, trying to get them to agree and validate Us and our position, our opinions, or just acknowledge the truth, acknowledge reality, acknowledge what happened, acknowledge what they did, something that can allow us to release this conflict, that can release this turmoil that we're the ones carrying around. But I think we can see the problem in this is that we're the ones feeding this turmoil, feeding this conflict, keeping it active, keeping it alive by our constant attention to it, by our constant rumination that we're nourishing the conflict through having these one-sided internal arguments. We're keeping ourselves mired, we're keeping ourselves stuck in this conflict, we are keeping ourselves bonded with this other person, and so it's a tricky bit of life, it's a tricky bit of adult life, to know when confronting is a good thing and when it would actually be better if we just Internally let this go.

There's no formula, there's no perfect recipe for this. We have to go on our own judgment, we have to go on what we think is right. But there are some like basic guidelines, there are some basic ideas that at least seem to have worked for me over time, and that's basically ask myself the very simple question of do I want to continue? Do I have to continue having a relationship with this person? Because if I do and I have to figure out some way to square this conflict. I can't just release it all internally and then be subject to whatever they do next. That can end up being a really bad formula. That can set up a really difficult equation of where I'm the one constantly coping and dealing with what someone else is piling on me, and as soon as I figured out how to deal with it, as soon as I've released it, as soon as I've coped with it, I get a fresh pile of stuff to deal with. And so in those situations Confrontation can be a good idea.

But where that can go a little sideways is if the or dynamics of the situation are completely one-sided, like we would be standing up to an authority figure where we really have no power, in the situation that when we do that, sometimes that doesn't go so great because that person knows they don't have to act any better than they are, they don't have anything to lose. They can use their position of power, define whatever confrontation we bring to them, completely non-threatening, in fact. All the more reason to put us back in our place to Double down on whatever treatment they have given us so far. So it's obviously a very complicated, nuanced process. Human beings are tricky. Relationships are hard. Our dynamics make things even harder.

These are difficult things to walk through, but in a more simple situation, if we don't ever actually to see this person again, then we can do a couple of things. First, we can find whatever ways we can do just get away from this person. If this is a client in a business Situation, figure how to fire them. Figure how just let them go, give them all their money back, give them whatever they want in service of just ending things and not continuing. If this is more of a personal relationship that we just don't really want to be a part of anymore, we can speak our peace, but not from the perspective of trying to fix the other person or heal the relationship. We can just speak our peace with the intent of closure that this is what's happening. I don't want any part of this anymore and goodbye.

But if there's a more difficult situation, where the person perhaps is a boss or a parent or some other situation where the power dynamics are very, very tricky and challenging and that's a nuanced thing we have to work through, but if we can really become aware with what we actually feel, if we can get underneath the feelings that are causing our rumination and these arguments to repeat over and, over and over again, then we can look to those very feelings for some clarity. We can sit with those feelings. We can feel how we feel because even though the arguments in our head may feel angry, what might be underneath it is some sort of pain, some sort of hurt. But if we can get in touch, if we can feel that feeling and just sit with that feeling and not try to fix it, just feel it, oftentimes ways to deal with this will come to us. That if we're not trying to run from our own feelings, oftentimes that in and of itself can stop that rumination, can stop that cycle of internal one-sided arguments by itself. But again, these things are tricky A lot of times.

We need help. We need someone else to help us know how to deal with this. We need to talk about it with someone else. We need to talk about it with someone we trust, someone who's safe, someone who can actually help deal with this conflict, with this split inside of us, with this fate that we are perpetuating within ourselves. That actually isn't doing any good because we're the only ones who know it exists, we're the only ones participating in it. So it's really just feeling and feeding conflict for conflict's sake, and we can do ourselves a lot of favors by resolving it, by coming to a place of wholeness, by coming to a place where we can just release this, and for smaller situations, oftentimes that's precisely what we can do.

We can sit down, we can focus on this person, we can just take a second to feel all the feelings, use all the words, call them all the names that we've been calling them in our head. We can engage fully with this argument and just have it out, spend 30 seconds just saying all the things internally that we want to say. If it helps us, we can write this down and just get it all out, because it's not doing any good inside of us. In a lot of ways, it's kind of like drinking poison. We're just calming ourselves. This acid is burning us and we're the ones supplying it, we're the ones perpetuating it. So why not just get it out? Let it go, and with all these feelings, with all this pent up umbrage and resentment and maybe anger and rage against this person, just let it rip for a minute, but let it rip with the intent of moving on, of getting past it, of just getting it out. Then, when we spent a minute doing this, we felt like we've gotten this out.

Let's flip that script a little bit. Let's find a place of forgiveness. Let's find a place of forgiveness for ourselves for being involved in the first place, because no matter how unreasonable a situation is, we always have a part to play, and as long as we put 100% on the other person, we never really get to see ourselves, we never really get to see our part of it, and thus our learning and growth can be stunted, because we can't see how we need to change. And, of course, our change is the only thing we have any control over, we have any say in, and that's ultimately what the value of going through the situations are is knowing what to do next time. Knowing what to do instead, being able to spot this early, not getting so involved, not getting so entrenched, not getting so enmeshed in an unhealthy situation, cutting bait earlier, instead of sticking with something that we know is bad, hoping it'll someday turn good, when often all it really does usually is just turn worse. So we find a place of forgiveness.

We find a place where we can honestly wish these people well, and because we've gotten out all of our vitriol, all of our rage, all of our anger, all of our resentment, all of our umbrage. We can actually do this. We can actually wish good on this person because we know they're separate from us. We no longer have to be involved with them, we no longer have to try to get anything from them. We no longer have to get them and make us whole. We're already whole.

This is getting them out of our system. This is getting them out of our life and letting them move on and honestly wishing them well, letting that resentment go completely and wishing positive things for them. We give up our role as punisher. We give up our role as judge, jury and executioner. We let go of our role of policeman over the behavior of this other person and just let them go, wish them the same kindness we would wish any other living being because that's all they are to us. Now, when we let them go completely and we can honestly wish them well, we can honestly bid them a fond farewell, knowing we never have to interact with them again, wishing them a good life, wishing good things happen to them and meeting it Truly.

And then the last step is just letting them go. If we do this visually, we can just imagine them just kind of floating away, or if we can feel it. We can feel the place inside of us where all of that anger, all of that hatred, all of that acid, all of that venom was, and just feel it flowing out of us. If it's helpful, we can breathe it out of us and just see it leaving our body, feel it, leaving our body and knowing, ultimately, all of those feelings that's theirs, that's not ours, and we don't have to keep what isn't ours. We can let that go with them. We can let them go live their life. We can let them go live their best life and we can live ours separately.

And when we've done this, when we've really severed these cords, when we've really broken these bonds, when we really let them go, that is an incredible liberation, that is incredible freedom, because we don't have to burn all that energy on our own resentment, we don't have to waste all that time thinking about them and arguing with them, trying to be right, trying to win, trying to get something missing from ourselves back, because now we ourselves have realized we're actually already whole, we didn't actually need them in the first place. Then we can let them go, we can evict them, we can expunge them. We can release them and let them float away. We can give up our silent umbrage. We can give up our silent conflict. We can give up our silent resentment, knowing that that is only harming ourselves, that's only affecting us. It has nothing to do with them, they don't even know we're doing it. So we just stop doing it.

And we stop doing it truly and completely letting it go, letting them go, letting ourselves go, freeing ourselves from this situation, no longer feeling encumbered, no longer feeling enmeshed, no longer feeling a responsibility and a duty to play our side, to play our part in a relationship, in a situation we don't even want. And so we let it go. We let it go with love and peace, we let it go with full positivity and well wishes, and we mean it truly. And that's how we heal, that's how we become whole again, that's how we heal the wound that was created by this other person and this other situation, and then we can truly move on. We can truly move on in wholeness.

We don't have to keep recreating this pattern, because the worst part about having these kind of arguments, having this kind of resentment within us, is we can find ourselves reliving situations that cause this resentment. Over and over, we can keep meeting the same character as the ones that we argue with in our head At different times, different places, different situations, the same kind of people keep coming up. But we can break that pattern. We can interrupt that trend by letting it go, by tending our side of the yard to releasing them to go have interactions and relationships with whoever else but not us, not anymore. So this is something we spot ourselves doing. It's going to be a really useful exercise. It's going to be really handy. It's going to be really handy to do when this happens to us next, because if we interact with very many people, especially strangers, this will happen.

It's a really useful thing to know how to let things go, to know how to get things out of our system and not hold on to it, because it's our holding that keeps it within us and it's our attention that feeds it. So we have the power to not do both of those things. We have the power to let it go, we have the power to stop, we have the power to heal, we have the power to become whole again whenever we wish, and so that's always a choice that we can make, and when we do, that's the choice of liberation, that's the choice of freedom, that's the choice of healing. And so if we find ourselves doing this, if we catch ourselves having these arguments, this is worth a try, this is worth doing. At the very least it helps us feel better.

But I think, in my opinion, can actually change the trajectory of the type of relationships we create from now on, that we sustain from now on. This can change the tenor and the dynamics of none of the relationships we currently have, but the new ones that we create from now on. A sort of exercise, a sort of practice can really have the outcome, can really have the effect of changing whole patterns, of creating new possibilities, of disrupting and discontinuing old, unhelpful and unhealthy trends and instead allowing and nourishing new, healthy ones. And the best part is the beauty is we're the ones with the authority, we're the ones with the power, we're the ones with the say-so that we can let things go whenever we wish.

So if we are walking around with these arguments, maybe today's the day we let it go, maybe today's the day we let them go, maybe today's the day we let it go and we move forward without it.

We move forward into a different future, into a different life, into a different experience, because we're not carrying the wreckage, the damage, the hurt, the harm of whatever we were arguing about to begin with. We can start clean, we can start fresh, we can open up possibilities, we can open up probabilities for good, because we're not carrying around so much negativity and conflict with ourselves. We figured it out, we've reconciled it, we've let it go. So it's no longer spinning out, it's no longer making itself known in our life, reflected through the people we come across, the situations we find ourselves in, the way we do things, what happens to us. By letting these sorts of things go, we do open up a whole new world of possibilities to ourselves. And in that whole new world of possibilities, we give ourselves the permission, we give ourselves the freedom to change, to experience change, to experience different sorts of situations, different sorts of experiences, different sorts of relationships, because we ourselves decided and followed through on letting our silent umbrage go.