The Idolatry Of A Sense Of Resolution

We assume that everything has a cause, at least one that we need to know, and that every cause has a resolution. One of the things that life will often not give us is a sense of resolution, at least at the time we think we most need to have it, or later in the true form in which it comes.

We want problems solved by understanding them and some sense of resolution to justify whatever is upsetting us.  Anything but diverting our attention to getting on with the plans and goals of our lives.

We think that a sense of resolution will somehow fix things.  Resolution seldom comes when we want, and when it does, the feelings that seemed to require it are long gone. Resolution never, hardly ever, brings back what is lost.  And resolution really does not bring the peace that people assume that it will, if and when it comes.

But there are causes and people that we want to understand us, that we want to make some meaning out of, because we have just invested so, so much time in them. It may even be in a great cause that has failed to meet our expectations.

Separation and divorce are good examples.  Almost always, one of the people in a separation wants some kind of resolution and the other person, knowing this on some level, denies any kind of resolution, “withholding” in some way.  Maybe they play stupid, maybe they are, and most likely is doesn’t matter because even if you got some sense of resolution, it wouldn’t give you the satisfaction you think it would.  We want to hear someone say, “it’s not your fault.”

We want to hear someone give us credit where credit is due, and they find a thousand ways to avoid saying or doing what seems would heal.  And you’re hanging around with your emotions on your sleeve still giving them the power.  Another person’s last hold of power over us may be in their withholding the sense of resolution they know on some level would give us a sense of justice.

Here is some of the best advice you may ever get. Don’t ever expect a resolution to come from someone with whom you are having a dispute, in a way that you believe it will let you get on with your life.  You have given your power away.  As hard as you push for it, push against them, feel deprived and used, is as hard as you are fighting against your own future and your own freedom.

A sense of resolution was never promised to you, will never give you what you think it will, and when it finally comes, won’t be as significant as a dribble in getting on with your own life.  You have to get on with your own life to begin with.  You have to do it without anyone else’s permission on any level, including a sense of resolution.

If you think a big court settlement will give you resolution, you’re wrong.  Look at people who get big settlements a couple of years on down the line and see if they have gotten on with their lives, truly forgiven, and let go and are free.  If they have, it had little to do with the settlement and everything to do with their own choice to be free and go after what they wanted, regardless of what any judge or jury awarded.

What about a sense of justice?  Good luck getting it and better luck in the process of waiting.  You can be cheated out of a lot more of your life in the process of the wait for resolution and justice to come to you on your terms. Justice will come for sure, but it will rarely ever come from where you thought it would or should. It will most come from the sweetness of the journey of your own life lived independently of needing a resolution before you could “move on.”

Move on anyway, without it, and you will be in a lot better shape.  That is what will give you satisfaction.


1) Review your scores on the Optimism Test. Discuss the relation between your scores in the dimensions of Permanent and Pervasive Good and Bad and the need for resolution as it is presented in this blog. How has your overall Optimism Score supported you in moving forward? Tell us your story.


1) How do you personally view this quote from the blog: “Here is some of the best advice you may ever get.  Don’t ever expect a resolution to come from someone with whom you are having a dispute, in a way that you believe it will let you get on with your life.  You have given your power away.” Tell us how this has been true for you. Give us some of your story.

About the author

Dr. William K. Larkin

Copyright © 2015 The Applied Neuroscience Institute