Get Out of the Muck

Sometimes it’s time to just let it go.

You know that muck you’ve been holding on to? The grudge or the resentment, or the frustration, or the annoyance, or the anger, or the hurt? Sometimes the price we pay for holding on is bigger than the actual incident. The exhausting brain-churn, as we replay it over-and-over-and-over again. The weight of our emotions as we experience them over-and-over-and-over again. The physical fatigue as we brute-force our way through our knotted stomachs and clenched jaws and that dull tension pain that sits behind our eyes.

Maybe it’s time to let it go. Breathe….

I wish I were that person who could honestly “Bless it, say thank you, and let it go.” Whoever suggested we do that is clearly more enlightened than I am. But I do recognize what it’s costing me. I know, with all certainty, that when I’m stuck in my stories of wrongs and ills; misdeeds and mistakes (even if they’re my own) that ultimately, I suffer. I know that when my heart and mind stay preoccupied with the negative, that it’s virtually impossible to create anything positive. I know that if I want to be and bring my best self to the situations in my life, that I can’t do that if I’m holding on to the past.

Whether it’s something that happened years, or days, or hours ago, if I can’t find a way to let it go, I am, in essence, exchanging the impact I can have in the world for being right about being wronged.

So, when I think of it that way, it all seems a little silly. Because I want to play a bigger game. Be the bigger person. Be the best me I can me. And I don’t know about you, but I haven’t found a way to do that if I’m stuck in the muck.

©OnStage Leadership


Kimberly Davis
Kimberly Davis
An expert on authentic leadership, Kimberly Davis shares her inspirational message of personal power, responsibility, and impact with organizations across the country and teaches leadership programs world-wide; most notably, her program “OnStage Leadership” which runs in NYC and Dallas, TX. Additionally, Kimberly teaches for Southern Methodist University’s (SMU) Cox School of Business’s Executive Education Program's Transformational Leadership Program and their Latino Leadership Initiative. She is also privileged to teach for the Bush Institute’s WE Lead Program (empowering female leaders from the Middle East). Kimberly is a TEDx speaker and her book, Brave Leadership: Unleash Your Most Confident, Authentic, and Powerful Self to Get the Results You Need, is the 2019 winner of the Benjamin Franklin Silver Award for Business and Career; an Amazon Bestseller in Business Leadership, Business Motivation, and Self-Improvement, and Motivational Business Management; and was named as the number one book to read in Inc. Magazine’s “The 12 Most Impactful Books to Read in 2018,” with a cover-endorsement by best-selling author Daniel Pink.

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  1. It happens to everyone to suffer wrongs in life, the betrayal of a friend, a promise not kept. Often on these occasions we tend to react by harboring resentments and resentments towards those who have hurt us, unaware of the fact that we will be the first to suffer.
    Getting angry is human. Which doesn’t mean it’s just an innate trait. Over time, the “causes” of anger have changed: the human being learns from the environment, from experience and from society, what it is right to get angry about and what is the most appropriate way to react.
    Forgiveness typically allows you to let go of resentments, grudges, and plans for revenge. Forgiveness does not mean denying the responsibility of the person who hurt us or justifying their misconduct. You can forgive the person without excusing his behavior.
    Forgiveness is above all a gesture of love that we make towards ourselves as it allows us to let go of dysfunctional thoughts and feelings to focus on more positive aspects.
    Our culture seems to perceive forgiveness as a sign of weakness and vulnerability, while reinforcing the idea that revenge and anger are right. What is less culturally perceived is the power that is hidden in forgiveness, the profound positive impact it can determine in those who exercise it and how much it represents a courageous choice. Each of us has the ability and the power to forgive and can exercise it whenever we want.

  2. Kimberly — So well said! The author of my “Book of the Moment Club,” psychologist Roz Zander speaks of this very topic in PATHWAYS TO POSSIBILITY. “Let go!” she advises when we feel we’re carrying around that extra emotional weight, or as you so aptly describe, “stuck in the muck.” Is it always easy to immediately put that burden down? Not for me – yet – but now I have the figurative piece of yarn around my finger to remind me to try to do so. Thank you for reinforcing this critical message!

    Boy, is the universe talking to me or what!

  3. No, you got this. Sometimes the muck can be used as fuel to prove that you are more than what the muckraker said, or as in Mark O’Brien’s case, that you are what they said you are and you are going to thrive on that… you don’t have to smack your lips if their muck ain’t your flavor. As so often is the case, you struck a chord with this one. We allow one incidence, one remark, one interaction to fillet us to the bone, and it doesn’t have to. Even if there are elements of truth in the muck that they are flinging… there are ways to pick yourself up, hose yourself off (muck ain’t dust… you can’t dust muck off) take a little inventory and then let it go. I have allowed entire relationships to be defined on the basis of a single conversation. And when discussing one such conversation with a person that I allowed this to happen with, that person did not even remember that interaction.

    If we unpack the backpacks that we take with us out into the world every day, we can find that there’s a lot of unnecessary crap in there. Unless we want it there for workout purposes, we can lighten the load and replace the crap with kindness, humor, fun, curiosity and gratitude, which are all a lot lighter and better to have around. Thanks for this one, you continue to be the most bestest, Kimberly.

    • As ever, Tom, you so beautifully brought this conversation to another level (well, you and Mark – what a powerful duo!). …”fillet to the bone”…. so good. Yes. That captures the feeling perfectly. And I love the “unpack the backpack” metaphor. That’s a great visual to remind me to look at what I’m carrying with me. Adore you, friend!

  4. Ladies and Gentlemen, the contest is now closed to entries. We have a winner. And the Phrase of the Day goes to Kimberly Davis for this timeless nugget: “Being right about being wronged.”

    Years ago, I was offered a column in a monthly magazine by the editor of said magazine. She loved what I was writing and asked me for three initial submissions. Then she went dark. When I finally caught up with her, she told me the column wouldn’t run, after all, because the publishers were afraid the content was too controversial. I stewed about that for the longest time … until if finally penetrated my thick Irish noggin that those folks were the ones who’d lost, not me. And (I may not need to tell you) the experience emboldened me to continue to write exactly as I always did. I also figured out that if whatever I’d written (presuming it wasn’t an entry to a popularity contest) had shaken someone up enough to refuse to publish it, I must be onto something.
    And it must be good.

    If you ever feel stuck in the muck, send up a flare. I’ll always have a hand ready to pull you out.

    Thank you, my friend.

    • I’m so glad that you were able to see clearly in that mucky-situation, Mark, as the world needs your writing. It’s a real problem when writers are pressured to only write what’s safe and predictable – which is the gift of this platform. I would have stewed too. Thank you for not playing smaller in the world as a result of their inability to see.