You have been hurt and you probably have been advised to let go of the past. Telling other people to let go is easy, but it is a tough process. It is better to let go than to hold on to grief, pain, hurt, betrayal, anger, and other negative circumstances in your life.
Letting go will help you to lower your chances of acquiring mental problems. Holding on to past hurts over a long period is a great threat to your mental well-being. Letting go will enable you to gain inner peace and consequently, happiness. Also, not letting go makes you a difficult person to deal with thus making it hard for you to get and maintain crucial relationships with other people. Perhaps your family members, workmates, employees or clients.
Not letting go makes you a difficult person to deal with, thus making it hard for you to get and maintain crucial relationships with other people.
How do you identify what you need to let go?
1. Is it changeable?
Is it within your power to change the situation that is destroying your inner peace? If you can do something about it, then, do it but don’t worsen your situation. Think it through and then after dealing with it let it go. If the situation is beyond your control, then, that’s a good enough reason to let it go. What is the point of holding on to the past? There is no use for holding on to the unchangeable pains of yesterday.
2. Is it in line with your goals and dreams?
What do you want the most in life? Holding on to negativity can hinder you from reaching your anticipated goals in life. If the situation is likely to distract you from achieving other important goals in your life, it is not worth it. If it is costing you your happiness and peace, it is not worth holding on to.
Tips on how to let go?
1. Accept your pain
Accept what you are feeling instead of denying and avoiding it. Acceptance of the negative emotions will enable you to take responsibility for yourself and minimize blame games. Also, you’ll identify the specific area of concern that you need to deal with. You may assert your pain, hurt, or anger by saying:
“I accept that I feel…and I feel this way because…”
Understand yourself better and reduce irrational thoughts that may be involved through self-acceptance.
2. Analyze your expectations
Is someone else involved in your current situation? How certain are you that they are, and you are not wrongly projecting your bitterness? Understand that you have no control over other people’s thoughts and actions. Lower your expectations. People will always disappoint you in life, even your closest friend. Expecting perfection in your social relationships is not sensible. You cannot control what people say, what they think or how they behave. As noted earlier, analyze the situation keenly. If you cannot control it, let it be. Get on with other areas of your life.
3. Express your feelings
If another person is involved in your distressed state and you are in a position to approach them, communicate to them your pain. It’s not a guarantee that they will understand. Remember not to expect perfection from anyone. Explain it to them calmly how their behavior hurt you. If you cannot talk to them, talk to someone else who you can trust. Choose your audience wisely because some people might make things worse. Other ways of expressing yourself include writing in your personal journal, making artwork, and other forms of creative expression. You may also confide in the safe environment of therapeutic counseling.
4. Stop ruminating about the past
What has happened has already happened and no amount of reliving it in your mind will change the situation. Learn to stop your thoughts from living in a state of “If only I had not…” instead focus on “I have…”
In short, live in the present moment. Be here now and look forward to the future. If you have to think of the past note the lesson that it has taught you which you can apply in your present life.
Ask yourself “What have I learned from this?”
5. Forgive yourself and other people
First, forgive yourself for anything that you feel you have fallen short off. It’s only after you have forgiven yourself that you can forgive others. It’s like love; only when you love yourself can you be able to love others.
Forgiveness is a process. It can take some time to forgive someone. Forgiveness involves: patiently managing your anger toward the person, not seeking vengeance and understanding that they were reasons (whether stupid or reasonable) behind why they behaved in the manner they did. Stop blaming other people and feeling like a victim. Instead, focus on your own happiness and peace of mind.
How do you know that you have succeeded in letting go?
1. When you think about the situation, it does not elicit strong emotions that you feel like you have to act on them. It may still hurt you when you think about it, but you are not controlled by the negative emotions involved. You don’t think about the hurtful situation all the time as you used to. Furthermore, you no longer cry when you think about it.
If the situation is likely to distract you from achieving other important goals in your life, it is not worth it. If it is costing you your happiness and peace, it is not worth holding on to.
2. You experience inner peace despite the effects that the situation had on you. Thus, instead of being controlled by the negative thoughts which might have caused restlessness and irritability in you, you control your thoughts. Also, you dwell more on positive thoughts rather than the negative.
3. You have a light heart rather than a heavy heart because you hold no grudges against anyone. Meeting the person who caused the problem doesn’t elicit vengefulness in your heart. You have forgiven yourself or other people who hurt you. You experience personal freedom from negative emotions and thoughts.
4. You are able to be happy despite what you have been through. The joy you feel is not faked, it’s experienced. You can have fun and smile easily and interact with others without thinking much about the hurt, pain, or anger.
5. You continue engaging in your activities in life with enthusiasm. Consequently, your pain has become more manageable, therefore, your occupational and social functioning is back to normal. You are back on track in pursuit of your life goals.
Letting go will enable you to gain inner peace, happiness, and healthy social relationships. It is possible to move on past mental and emotional pain. Whatever or whoever it is that you think is holding you back, let go. Release yourself from the tight grasp of psychological pain. Start the process now.
Life is for living. Keep living. Don’t give up.