I’ve written a bit at Write Change Grow on letting go of the past.
I’m happy to say, I’ve gotten a lot better at letting stuff go over the years.
I’m over the heartache and pain from my ex-boyfriends, over friends I loved no longer wanting to be my friend and over the drama of my parent’s messy divorce.
I’ve even worked through the pain and loss of my father’s death and the avalanche of emotions that came with losing him.
Considering the above, I was a bit taken back by a recent discussion with a dear friend.
Sitting out in my courtyard one night, I expressed my concern, frustration (and if I’m being totally honest) anger over a particular situation in my life.
While I was venting to my friend, she said – ‘You need to let that go’.
My response was – ‘But I’m still right in the middle of it.’
Let me give you a little of the back story. A particular decision made by someone else changed my life at the end of 2015.
While I know 2015 was a long time ago, part of the problem is I only just found out the real reason my life was changed by this person’s decision.
Up to that point, I’d no idea why it had happened.
Though I had been making progress on letting go, finding out the reason (which itself was completely unreasonable) bought up a lot of negative feelings and resentment.
However, there’s not the main issue.
The problem is I’m still dealing with the consequences of that decision on a daily basis. This isn’t some feeling I’m holding onto, it’s part of my everyday experience.
It’s like my friend is telling me to put the umbrella down because the storm is over while I’m still getting rained on.
While I know my friend is right about having to let it go, it made me realize that letting go when you are still in the middle of the consequences is a lot harder.
So how do we let go of what happened when we are smack bang in the middle of a crisis?
Here are my thoughts on letting go of what happened (and heads up I am still working through these myself) so there might be a few mixed emotions flying around and more vulnerability than in some of my other posts.
Disclosure – This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. Any compensation I receive does not affect the price you pay.
Important Note – I am not a medical practitioner or trained therapist so if you are struggling with depression, anxiety or suspect you may have a mental illness, please seek out the help of a medical professional. If letting go of a trauma in your past is seriously affecting your life, please seek professional help.
Deal with the feelings
First, we need to acknowledge our feelings. Then we need to deal with them.
Acknowledging our feelings and dealing with them can be quite different beasts.
It’s the difference between “I feel angry because of …. ” and “What am I going to do to move through the anger I’m feeling?”
Many of us (including me) can sometimes get stuff at door number one.
If you feel like you need professional help then please get some. There is no shame in asking for help. I’ve worked with counselors over two or three sessions and they have really helped.
I worked with a personal coach (granted quite different from a counselor or therapist) for many years and it was one of the best things I have ever done for myself.
Whatever you decide is best for you, it’s important you deal with your feelings.
Related content –
- 20 Questions to Ask Yourself If You Had a Tough Year
- Know Your Own Worth – 10 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself
- 12 Techniques to Stop Feeling Inferior
- How to Break the Habit of Self-Doubt and Build Real Confidence
Have people who will listen
This one is really important. This doesn’t mean that you need a big group of friends but it certainly makes a world of difference if you have one friend who listens – as in truly listens.
It helps to have someone who listens without judgment.
Of course, it’s great if you return the favor and listen to them as well.
You may benefit from the book, Letting Go: The Pathway of Surrender by David R. Hawkins M.D. Ph.D. I haven’t read this book myself but after reading through its excellent reviews, it’s definitely going on my reading list!
Keep some feelings to yourself
Okay, I realize this might sound a bit contradictory to what I said above but hear me out.
The point I am trying to make is that you don’t have to tell someone or a lot of someone’s every feeling you are having.
I realize that as I get older I keep a lot more feelings to myself and work through them internally. I think it has a lot to do with having a greater sense of self and trusting my own judgment more.
I am also better at accepting and forgiving myself, which definitely helps. I don’t go seeking outside validation like I used to.
Again you have to do what is right for you.
Related post – Stop Waiting for Acceptance – Accept Yourself
Let me explain this one. Toxic thoughts are what really screw us over, often more so than whatever upset us in the first place.
If you are feeling angry, frustrated, sad or disappointed maybe allocating a small part of your day (I’m talking 10 minutes here – not the whole day) to brooding, worrying, ruminating (or whatever you want to call it).
If you know you are going to feel a bit crap anyway, why not put it on a timer? You have your 1o minutes of brooding over your cup of coffee in the morning then you commit to stop thinking about it and get on with your day.
Please bear in mind, this will be a lot easier to do for some people than others. If you know you won’t be able to stop yourself after the allocated time, then I wouldn’t try this one!
If scheduled brooding doesn’t work then you could try compartmentalizing. Again this is easier for some than for others. If it’s a relationship issue that is bothering you and you are going to work, then you make yourself focus on work and nothing else, while you are at work. If and when you find your mind wandering, get it back on track immediately.
This might even be one of those times when procrastinating might be helpful. In the past I have used what I call my – I’ll worry about that tomorrow technique.
When something is worrying me, I sometimes put it in the I’ll worry about that tomorrow basket. I actually say the words out loud to myself (in a private setting naturally). The next day I might have to do the same thing.
Basically, it’s a technique to procrastinate on worrying.
Word of warning – do not try this with bills that need to be paid, mortgage payments or health issues. It does not work for that. Pay your bills on time and get yourself to the doctor.
Write it down
Writing things down has really helped me over the years.
In many ways, this blog is part of my ‘writing things down’ strategy now. The best part is, not only do I get to help myself but I get to help other people as well, which is fantastic!
I highly suggest writing things down when you are dealing with a challenge or crisis. I’m old school so I like to use a notebook and a pen.
You are not writing a novel here so don’t worry about what you write, just pour your feelings out on the page. It doesn’t matter if it makes any sense. It’s all about purging your emotions.
I mentioned my Dad earlier. When he was dying, I went to a local park, sat at a picnic table and wrote roughly 24 pages of stuff without stopping. That was back in 2001 and to this day I have never read it. I have no plan of reading it and that is perfectly okay.
Writing can be a form of therapy. Use it whenever you need to. Keep it private because it’s just for you.
Pretend you are okay?
There’s a reason there’s a question mark at the end of this headline.
It’s because in some ways pretending you are okay can be beneficial and at other times pretending you are okay isn’t a good idea.
There is a fine balance and it’s different for different people.
Sometimes the best thing is to reach out to someone and let them know you are feeling vulnerable. Let them know you are not doing so good. Most of us don’t like to do this because we think it makes us look weak.
It’s not weak, it’s brave. It takes courage and you should be proud of yourself for being courageous.
Related post – 25 Ways to Be More Courageous in Life
Don’t isolate yourself
I’m guilty of this one.
I probably should be walking the talk with this but because my issue is work-related, it’s also money related which can tend to restrict certain social activities.
As an introvert, I tend to hide in my cave when faced with a serious challenge. This can be both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing in that it helps me process my feelings and move on and a curse that I can sometimes get bogged down in those same feelings if I don’t spend enough time around the people closest to me.
This one comes down to knowing how much alone time works for you.
Related post – How to Cope with Feelings of Loneliness
Understand there might be setbacks
As mentioned above, I was doing pretty well. I was starting to let go.
Then I encountered a setback and started backsliding. Not a great feeling, but it happens.
Be prepared for setbacks. Be prepared that the course to healing might be one step forward and two back (at least some of the time).
Don’t beat yourself up when there is a setback. Just see it for the bump in the road that it is and keep moving forward.
Find ways to deal with the stress
This one is really important.
This is also one I am struggling with at the moment.
Normally my stress relief is my gorgeous baby boy but last week he was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, so it’s been a very stressful time indeed.
You need to find healthy ways to deal with stress. Emphasis on the word healthy.
Need help getting your stress under control? CreativeLive have an excellent online course you can take in the comfort of your own home at your own pace. Have a look at the curriculum for the course Stress is Optional run by Dr. Cynthia Ackrill to see how it can help you.
Want to let go
Let’s get really honest here. Sometimes we hold onto pain because we want to.
We might be struggling with a victim mentality, our troubles might get us attention or we might enjoy the drama more than we should.
You need to want to let go of your troubles. You need to want to move on.
I have a few posts that can help in this regard, so feel free to read through them.
Understand that holding on for too long can lead to regret
As I have mentioned before on the blog, I spent a lot of time wallowing over the men in my life when I was younger.
It would take me far too long to get over a guy who broke my heart. I know I wasted a lot of time (i.e. my life) crying over men who were not crying over me.
While I have made peace with that now and it has helped me make better choices going forward, I occasionally wish it hadn’t taken so long to move on.
Related post – The Myth of a Life with No Regrets
Live in the moment
When it all comes down to it, our best option is living in the moment.
While my moment might involve doing something I really don’t want to do or doing something I find incredibly frustrating, I make an effort to still do my best.
I focus on making the best out of each moment.
Most of the time it works, occasionally I falter and you know what – that’s okay.
Accept that eventually, you will let go
We need to be able to project ahead and see a better future for ourselves.
Whether you’re job hunting, paying off debt, going through a break-up or divorce or whatever hardship you are going through, it’s important to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
One day out of the blue, you’ll look around and you won’t be in the middle of it anymore.
The storm will have passed. You will have moved on and you will have let go.
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