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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 July 8, 2020

How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

Do you say yes so often that you realize you aren’t really happy about this, wondering how to say no to people?

For years, I was a serial people pleaser. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

It took a long while but I learned the art of saying no. Saying ‘no’ meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. I started to manage my time more around my own needs and interests. When that happened, I became a lot happier. And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

The Importance of Saying No

When you learn the art of saying ‘no,’ you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey considered one of the most successful women in the world confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything. It was only when she realized that after years of struggling with saying no, I finally got to this question: “What do I want?”

Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

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Warren Buffett views no as essential to his success. He said,

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

When I made ‘no’ a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say ‘no.’

From an early age, we are conditioned to say ‘yes.’ We said yes probably hundreds of time in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work. We said yes get a promotion. We said yes to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

We say yes because it feels better to help someone. We say yes because it can seem like the right thing to do. We say yes because we think that is key to success. And we say yes because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist like the boss.

And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves. At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we feel guilty we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

The message no matter where we turn is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

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How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty

Deciding to add the word ‘no’ to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say ‘no’ but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of ‘no’ that you could finally create more time for things you care about. But let’s be honest, using the word ‘no’ doesn’t come easily for many people.

The 3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time especially you haven’t done it much in the past will feel awkward.

2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

Remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it, who else knows about all of the demands on your time? No one. Only you are at the center of all of these requests. are the only one that understands what time you really have.

3. Saying ‘No’ Means Saying ‘Yes’ to Something That Matters

When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

6 Ways to Start Saying No

Incorporating that little word ‘no’ into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

One of the biggest challenges to saying ‘no’ is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no reflect poorly on you?

Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because FOMO even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

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Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better.

3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say ‘No’

Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say ‘yes’ because we worry about how others will respond or the consequences of saying no or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose respect from others. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

Keep in mind that saying ‘no’ can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way. You might disappoint someone initially but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to.

4. When the Request Comes In, Sit on It

Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time, or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say ‘no.’ There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

5. Communicate Your ‘No’ with Transparency and Kindness

When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

A clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

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6. Consider How to Use a Modified ‘No’

If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” giving you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

Final Thoughts

Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

Use the request as a fresh request to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself. If you are the one placing the demand on yourself, try to evaluate the demand as if it were coming from somewhere else.

Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project but not by working all weekend. Or, tell someone in your family you can’t loan them money again because they never paid you back the last time. You’ll find yourself much happier.

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Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

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