Aké Satia is the Chief Vision Officer at Aké Satia, a Human Capital firm in the DC area focused on strengthening organizations by bolstering the intersection of people strategy and business strategy.



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A Vital Release!

The Thriving Essentials Series: Episode 3


Animosity and thriving cannot coexist.

In our tension-filled world, the word release is one we often hear. We talk about releasing “bad vibes” or negative emotions. Sometimes, we may strategize to release friendships with people with “bad energy” or those who trouble us. Superficially, all seems to make sense, but what exactly does release mean?
The word release dates back to the 13th century, deriving from the Old French term, relâcher. Of note, lâcher means to let go. Later in the 14th century, the term release was associated with acts such as setting free from imprisonment, surrendering, and forgiving.

To bring this closer to home, I have a question for you! When you hear the word, release, what is the first thought that comes to mind? 

If you are a movie buff, you may think of the 2006 romantic comedy Catch and Release. Or, if you are an attorney, you might search your files to determine when your client will be free from confinement. And if you are a recreational fisherman, you may recall when you released a casting net full of bass during your last fishing tournament. However, for many of us, the meaning of release likely evokes the burden of unforgiveness and the need for forgiveness. Because we all know what it feels like to become offended, carry an offense, or offend others.

The weight of offenses.

“I want to forgive her, but the devil won’t let me.”
These are the words an 8-year-old sobbingly told her mom when her mom asked her to forgive her sister for refusing to share dessert. When I heard my friend narrate the story about her daughter, I thought: Yep! The struggle is real! In some jurisdictions, refusing to share dessert, especially if it is chocolate, would probably qualify as an unpardonable offense. 😉
Jokes aside! Carrying offenses is human nature. But few things can entrap the heart and mind, like holding onto an offense. Because when we hold onto offenses, we become confined in the virtual prison called unforgiveness and lose freedom.

Although most of us are intimately familiar with forgiveness, what it means and looks like is still debated. Therefore, before we proceed, let us consider the definition of forgiveness. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, to forgive is to cease to feel resentment against an offender or to give up requital. – Specifically, claim to compensation or retaliation. In other words, forgiveness means not holding negative feelings towards another who offended us and releasing the right to get even.

Hmm! Though the definition of forgiveness rolls off the tongue, it can be hard to digest!

The indigestibility of forgiveness and appeal of unforgiveness.

Anyone of a considerable age has wrestled with unforgiveness. – Resentment towards a friend who did not show up when we needed them, bitterness at a parent who did not love us like we felt they should, anger at a boss who was not supportive of us in the workplace. And the list goes on!
Undoubtedly, clinging to hurt feelings can seem justifiable – even rewarding! Especially when we convince ourselves the offender is experiencing the same pain we are. – Like our negative feelings and bitter thoughts transmitted in airwaves, assailed their hearts and caused intense anguish. But as we know, this is more descriptive of a scene from a Sci-Fi movie than reality. Others cannot feel what we feel unless they empathize.

At other times, we struggle to release because we find the offense inexplicable. To better illustrate this, I will share a story.

Reasons for animosity

Some time ago, I had a fascinating interaction with a naturopathic doctor. We will rename him Nate.
Nate is very driven – he owns a naturopathy clinic. Being very committed to his craft, he has earned a wealth of qualifications, including ones I did not know existed, such as a master’s degree in Acupuncture. Additionally, having lived in many states and countries, Nate has many stories to tell and loves to share them. On a particular day, while we were chatting about health and the peculiarities of life, he narrated a disturbing story about his childhood.

Nate mentioned that although he had experienced many financial challenges, he grew up with wealthy parents. He added that his father was hell-bent on making as much money as possible but was uninterested in being a father. Remarkably, his father made his first million in 1970. One million dollars in 1970 is equivalent to almost 8 million dollars today! Unfortunately, according to Nate, though overflowing with financial wealth, his father was lacking emotionally and was not present for his children. Therefore, his relationship with them was nonexistent. And when his father retired, he set out to live his dreams: Purchased lavish real estate and joined elite clubs.

However, soon after, he was diagnosed with an incurable form of cancer, and his wife with Alzheimer’s. – The unexpected misfortune derailed their plans, and they invested everything into getting the best treatment and spent the rest of their days alone in separate prestigious health facilities. And before they passed, all of their wealth evaporated!

The musings of a broken heart.

Nate described how what his parents left behind could barely cover their funeral costs. But what was most surprising was the frigidity in his tone and demeanor as he narrated the story. While listening to him, I had to remind myself Nate was narrating a story about his father, not a stranger, on Channel 5 news. Sadly, as he continued to speak, it was clear that although he had distanced his heart from his parents, the wound they inflicted was still raw. And behind his stoic exterior lay a broken heart!

On a particular day, the crack in Nate’s heart was evident. While exchanging thoughts on why many choose to become parents despite the agony and anguish it can cause, Nate made an interesting statement. He said Aké, the only reason people choose to become parents is to satisfy themselves. It has nothing to do with the child or with loving another. People become parents because of what they think it says about them – it feeds their ego. 
This is a gloomy perspective! And if you are a parent, you may take offense at one characterizing the sacrificial role of parenthood as a selfish endeavor.
Candidly, when I heard Nate say this, I was inclined to refute his statement. But as I listened to him further, I decided to silence my inner critic, and the reason for his rationale became clear. – Nate’s view of parenthood is based on his experience with His parents, which to him was selfish. Unfortunately, the wall of pain from his childhood seemed too high to scale and impacted his view of the world in his later years.

Scaling walls to see clearly.

As you read this, if you are inclined to condemn Nate, I encourage you to consider this: Is it surprising that Nate views parenting as a selfish pursuit and struggles to trust, given his experience?
Nate sees the world from a lens where it is best not to expect much from others. Therefore, he invests in others cautiously and hopes sparingly. It seems the passage of time alone cannot stop his wound from bleeding. Intentionality is required.
Undoubtedly, our experiences affect our perceptions. But painful experiences do not have to determine our future: They do not have to lead to missed opportunities and lost chances.

Friend, we are all wronged and hurt. And sometimes, it is no fault of ours, but holding animosity perpetuates unforgiveness. And unforgiveness impacts our ability to see opportunities, grow, and thrive.
Can you imagine how we would flourish if we let go of bitterness, grudges, and animosity?

For you and to you,



Image credits: Pexels | Ron Lach



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