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21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

It is often advised to bereaved people that “time will heal all of their wounds.” With this belief or common assumption, many people expect time will help them overcome the anguish, anger, sadness, guilt, and fear that they may be feeling at certain difficult situations in life. However, time in itself—unlucky for us—does not heal all wounds and quite a lot of people still find it torturing many years after experiencing some sad things. With the passage of time the pain may ease a bit, but it is still difficult for many people to let go and move on at certain painful or hard situations in life.

Although time is not a healer, time can be used well for the purpose of healing. In the words of Dr. Phil, “Time doesn’t change us. It’s what we do with that time that changes us.” This means that we can actually do something to help ourselves heal more quickly. This means that when life knocks us down, instead of remaining there, we have to make efforts to bounce back. It is our attitude that determines whether we let that situation make us or break us! Steve Maraboli in Life, the Truth, and Being Free states that “Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.” When it is difficult for you to let go and you feel lost, here are 21 things you can do to move towards a happier and fulfilling life.

1. Council yourself to let go and move on

To let go, it is essential that you counsel yourself that it is time to move on. It requires from you to make yourself understand that some people are a part of your history, but not a part of your destiny. It also requires deciding that if you want to move forward then you have to let go.

2. Go out with friends or family

Your friends and family can be a great source of comfort and solace in situations where you find it difficult to let go and move on. You can go out, talk, and share your feelings with people who love you and truly listen to you, and they can give you a totally fresh and different perspective on things.

3. Learn a new skill

Another thing that you can do is to expand your skill base. While being involved in the process of learning, you will have less time to dwell on your troubling experience and will be able to forget it. Also, you will understand that there are always new things to learn, new ways to grow, different viewpoints to explore and new opportunities just around the corner. This will help in keeping you motivated towards life.

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4. Engage in a physical activity

Exercise or physical activity in any form has been found out to help in relieving stress. From aerobics to yoga, any form of exercise can be engaged in when you find it hard to let go. This is because it helps in boosting brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins, increase your self-confidence, improves your mood, and lower the symptoms associated with anxiety and mild depression.

5. Plan a Trip

When you find it hard to let go, a change of atmosphere or environment can do wonders. Confining yourself will not help in making things right. Instead, for a week or a month, escape from your surrounding and treat yourself with a scenic difference.

6. Explore new avenues and see new people

One of the best things to do to move on and let go is to meet new people and go out. The world has to offer a lot of new things and there are always new people to be invited into your life. Join a networking group or get involved in community activities or join a special interest group and make an effort to meet new people. Addition of new and positive people in your life will help in healing from the toxicity of the past experience.

7. Cry it out

A study by Dr. William Frey II, PH.D., biochemist at the Ramsey Medical Center in Minneapolis, suggested that crying can be helpful in flushing out negative chemicals out of the body that gather in your body as a result of stress. Hence, crying out helps immensely in times when it is difficult for you to let go. But once you have cried, wipe your tears, stand up and dust off and remind yourself that life does not end here. Steve Maraboli says for such a situation: “Cry. Forgive. Learn. Move on. Let your tears water the seeds of your future happiness.”

8. Forgive

Forgiveness is one of the most essential things to do when you have to let go and move on. Forgiving others, forgiving yourself, and forgiving the Universe is significant for allowing yourself the space and freedom of moving on. According to Steve Maraboli, “unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.”

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9. Accept the situation

Accepting things as they are can be the key for unlocking the door to happiness. If you are trapped in a damaging past, instead of fighting to change things, accept what had happened and what you can’t change, and trust me, you will find more peace. The sooner you accept it, the sooner it will stop hurting you and the faster you are able take control of your life and bring improvement to it.

10. Express your feelings through a creative outlet

Express or release your feelings by means of a creative outlet, such as blogging or painting or any form of art. Use your creativity to combat the negative emotions that are dwelling inside you. The book Your Creative Brain by Shelley Carson can present a number of ways you can transform negative emotion through creative work.

11. Do some volunteer work

Volunteering has been found out to be helpful in warding off depression and boosting happiness and self-confidence. Hence, when it is difficult for you to take your mind off past experiences, volunteer work can help in bringing a positive change to your mental state. Volunteer work can get you moving and make you more socially connected. Also, by spending time in service of others, you will enjoy a sense of purpose and fulfillment in life.

12. Look for company of those who have been through similar experiences

Seeking company of those who may be able to understand what you are going through is also advantageous in such situations. This could be in the form of talking to friends or people around you who may have undergone something similar or it could be reading other people’s stories and cherishing their wisdom. This could help in bringing yourself to the understanding that you are not alone. Also, you can adopt the ways those people used for coping in a similar situation, thereby making it easier to move on in life.

13. Wear a rubber band on your wrist and flick it when you begin thinking about the unhappy experience

This may sound a bit odd, but doing this really helps to remind you that persistent negativity may be hurtful for your mind and body, and therefore, you are required to let go and move forward.

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14. Metaphorically throw it away or release it

Write down on a paper about the stresses that you are feeling and throw it away in the dustbin or toss the paper into the fireplace. This will help you let go of the stress associated with the event or unhappy experience that you have gone through.

15. Make time each day to nurture yourself

Help yourself heal by including in your daily schedule the activities that you find soothing and calming. For example, you can listen to music, read a favorite book, go out for a walk in nature, photograph life around you, get a massage, or take a yoga class. Avoid using drugs or alcohol or food for coping or relieving your feeling of pain. Instead, find healthier and positive ways of healing from the situation.

16. Journal your troubling experiences

Journal-keeping is a great way for gaining insights into your feelings and thoughts that prevent you from moving on. According to psychologists, it allows becoming aware of and understanding the reasons that made things happen the way they did. Keeping journal or writing about your experiences, is, therefore, regarded as a good way towards moving on as it helps in seeing your feelings in black and white so that they can be analyzed, changed, or even destroyed.

17. Pray or Meditate

Both meditation and prayer are considered as wonderful for reduction of stress and also in times when you find it hard to let go and move on in life. Prayer helps in accepting the things you cannot change and the hardships you are facing as God’s will. It helps in the achievement of peace of mind and has powerful effects on your mental and physical health.

18. Make a list of your accomplishments

In times when it is hard to let go and your self-esteem level is low, making a list of your accomplishments can help in elevating your self-esteem level. When you take out time to see yourself in a positive light, and make a list of your accomplishments, and add to it regularly even the small things that you do, you make some space for self-satisfaction.

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19. Visualize an empowered you

Visualization is another powerful psych tool at your disposal for improving self-confidence and self-healing. Visualizing yourself as an empowered person is helpful in situations where it is difficult for you to let go, and will help in bringing improvement in your sense of self-worth and in relieving stress.

20. See the bigger world

In a situation when it is difficult for you to let go of your past experiences, seeing the world around you and paying attention to the details in your surrounding can help you see that the world has a lot more to offer than that unhappy experience. For this, you can add to your daily routine some things that can help you see a bigger world, such as exploring the streets you have never been to before, closing your eyes and listening to your surroundings, taking different paths to or from work, etc.

21. Focus on the present

It is a famous quote: “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present.” So instead of mourning for the past or worrying about the future, live in the present moment and enjoy them. Kalidasa says “Yesterday is but a dream, Tomorrow is only a vision. But today well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness, and every tomorrow a vision of hope.” Choosing to live in the past robs you of the enjoyment today. Therefore, consider each day to be full of endless possibilities and appreciate fully the moments that come your way.

Featured photo credit: Loren Kerns via flickr.com

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Mehwish A. Wahid

Writer and Researcher

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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