Letting go of the past, a relationship, or a grudge is difficult. Too often we hold on to the pain with the hope that things will change. That somehow the clock will turn back, and we will hear the apology we are waiting for or that a different outcome will eventually transpire.
Rather than accepting what has occurred and then letting it go, we continue to replay it over and over in our minds. Ruminating on negative thoughts can affect our mood, our relationships, our physical and mental health, and even our work life.
Holding on to the pain deprives us of knowing our true selves because it keeps us rooted in the past. For some, our emotional pain has been with us for so long that it has become part of our identity. We don’t know who we are without the pain. That makes it impossible for us to let go.
If you find it hard to let go, here are some tips that may help:
Realize that you can’t control the actions of others. We really can only control ourselves and how we act. Expending energy on changing someone else’s behaviors is fruitless. You’re better off putting that energy into yourself.
Only what you think of yourself is what matters. Live according to your values and not the expectations of others.
Learn how to forgive. Feeling resentful and unwilling to forgive will keep you locked in the past and prevent you from moving forward. When you forgive, you’re not doing it for the other person. You’re doing it for yourself. It allows you the opportunity to focus on experiencing yourself.
Give yourself space to feel negative emotions. Trying to ignore your negative emotions will extend your pain and suffering. Instead, let yourself go through the grieving process: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. Realize that the process is not linear and that you may progress to acceptance only to return to anger. That’s okay. At some point, you’ll reach a peaceful place.
Accept what you cannot change. Stop hoping that things can go back to the way they were. You can’t change the past. Instead, focus on the here and now and make decisions today that can help you shape your future.
You hold the key to your happiness. Don’t let self-limiting beliefs define who you are. If you think you can’t do something, then that is exactly what is going to happen. It will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Instead, open your mind and believe in yourself.
Lighten up. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Learn how to laugh at yourself. Find those things that bring joy to your life and focus on them as a way of letting go of negative emotions that are holding you back from living your best life.
Don’t feel trapped by your past. Free yourself. Reach out today and make an appointment with one of our experienced therapists at Turning Point Mental Health Center.