Sometimes life is about knowing when to let go. We are constantly ending chapters of our lives and beginning new ones, but it’s incredibly common for many of us to struggle with change. It is easy to focus on (and hold on to) previous negative experiences and perceived slights prevent us from moving forward and have the potential to change how interact with others and approach different situations.
Being able to let go of painful experiences doesn’t mean forgetting about the past, it’s about allowing it to remain in the past and be able to move forward in a positive and healthy way.
Here are some useful suggestions to develop the art of letting go.
1. Write it down
Writing and journaling is particularly useful if you’re trying to deal with something that may be causing your anguish. The physical act of writing something down is often a task set by therapists to help ease the pain of emotional trauma and allows those thoughts and feelings to be released.
There are lots of ways to do this – structure your writing as a letter to someone, writing journal entries or poems or free write as you see fit. In some circumstances, read what you have written out loud and then rip the paper up into little pieces and throw them away,
2. Have a good cry
Crying can often make people feel vulnerable or even weak, crying can be extremely cathartic to just let it all out, and you should allow yourself to express the emotions you are feeling as it helps you to process events and spur on your emotional growth as an individual. When you cry, you are actually relieving your body of several toxins and stress hormones, making it both a physical and emotional release.
3. Learn valuable lessons and use them
Ever heard the phrase fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me?
Letting go doesn’t mean having to forget the past, but looking back and reflecting can be beneficial to take the lessons that we have learned from past achievements, negative experiences and mistakes and use them to inform our choices going forward. Being able to identify and assess the positives and negatives is how we learn and acknowledgement and understanding of them can sometimes be what is needed to be able to let go.
4. Think about the positives
While cliche, the phrase as one door closes, another one opens is often true. When a chapter of our lives, a relationship or a friendship ends, take the time to consider what you are gaining by this, what you have learned from it, and what lies ahead going forward. Focus on those new opportunities and the potential for something new to happen in your life and walk towards them – you never know what might be just around the corner.
Similarly, surround yourself with positive people who lift you up, not negative Nellies. Enjoy spending time and talking to people who make you smile.
5. Create physical distance
If someone has repeatedly caused you distress, it may be necessary to create some physical distance from that person. Not putting yourself in a situation where you have to deal with that person will reduce potential reminders and help you to heal and move on – out of sight, out of mind.
Should that person wish to make contact, avoid doing so until you feel ready.
6. Don’t wait for an apology
When we hold others to our own moral codes and expectations we are usually going to end up being disappointed, and waiting for someone to understand your thoughts and feelings or expecting an apology can be detrimental to the healing process.
7. Seek professional help
If you are finding it difficult to move on and things are becoming overwhelming, seek the advice of a professional. Being given the opportunity to talk to a neutral person who will help guide you through the healing process in a way that suits you will help you to move on in a healthy way.
The art of letting go of something that has caused pain and anxiety isn’t easy, but with time, some useful techniques and making a conscious decision to move forward, things will get easier.