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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

Life throws us in the rubbish dump sometimes. It happens to all of us. We are often faced with situations that leave us feeling strong emotions like frustration, anger, bitterness and stress which can transcend through our lives for days, weeks, months and even years. How many instances have you heard the words time’s a healer when being comforted by others? Technically, time is a healer but what if it’s taking longer than you imagined?

If you’re finding it hard to recover, then you’re not alone. As humans, we are a sensitive bunch and it’s our nature to get attached to things, people and situations which in turn can make it that much harder to let go. If you feel you’re holding on to something that has happened to you in the past, it’s really important to not be hard on yourself. It’s a natural process we need to go through to get to the other side and the negative emotions we feel shouldn’t be demonised or belittled as they are ultimately crucial for our overall happiness.

It may be a cliche that taking positive action will help heal but anything positive, big or small, will move you in the right direction. That’s not to say it’s a way of ignoring negative emotions – the two can be present side by side and work together to get you on the road to recovery.

A lot of the work is mindset and most of the time our mindset is stuck in a particular place – seemingly unwilling to make a shift. The key is not to force it but to slowly edge it to a more positive way of thinking and there are many different ways you can do this.

1. Crying It Out

Going by the idea that your negative emotions are there to heal you, not to hinder you, it’s important that you feel them. Crying is an amazing way to acknowledge how you really feel and start shifting those feelings.

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2. Taking Responsibility

Blame is a hinderance to happiness and anger causes us to throw that blame towards what is causing it within us. When we blame other people for the way we feel we are taking away our power and giving it to someone else or to the situation. But this isn’t about blaming yourself instead, it’s about realising what you could have learned from the situation and what actually can make you feel empowered and less angry.

3. Changing Your Perspective

I mentioned mindset and this is a powerful tool in trying to let go of past hurts. Changing your perspective on a situation is a way of shifting it to a lower level. Try to see the positives from it as little as they may seem. A small shift can turn into a bigger shift later on.

4. Practising Meditation And Yoga

Not always for everyone but yoga and mediation is known to have a heap of health benefits. There’s been loads of scientific studies that show regular meditation and mindfulness practice can lower depression and other great factors like lowering blood pressure and ultimately stress. Breathing techniques associated with meditation can calm your body and your thoughts.

5. Getting Involved In Group Activities

Being around people has a great healing factor and gives a sense of togetherness. Conversations and activities with people you love or new friends can put things in a better perspective. You may find unexpected solace in people that can lift your mood and mindset.

6. Laughing It Out

This may seem like a shallow suggestion but laughing and smiling can actually have an immense positive effect on our body and mind. Watching a comedy or a funny video clip even for a few minutes can cause us to feel less tension and anxiety. Even small amounts can help reprogram the mind to change its way of thinking.

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7. Rewarding Yourself

Any progress is important and you should give yourself a reward for any small step you feel you’ve taken in the right direction. Treat yourself to your favourite coffee, chocolate or anything you love.

8. Acknowledging That The Past Was Not All Good

When we’re trying to let go of something in the past, we tend to romanticise how things were. It’s important to acknowledge that the person or situation that we’re having trouble with was not necessarily as great as we remember them to be.

9. Focusing On The Future

A hard one to do when you’re mind is not wanting to go there, but focusing on the future is a great way to heal. Start with something small like planning a trip or something big like a possible career change.

10. Exercising

Exercise is obviously a great way to lift your mood and outlook on life. Getting your body in check and releasing those endorphins can do absolute wonders for your mindset.

11. Practising Forgiveness

Earlier I mentioned how blame can be a soul-destroying thing. It might feel good but it’s only making us hold on even more. We can get a better sense of empowerment by forgiving our past hurts. That does not mean accepting what happened as right but to just release on the negative feelings you have towards them.

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12. Identifying What the Experience Taught You

We all learn from what we’ve done. We are an accumulation of all our experiences and what we’ve learned from them and this is no exception. Try to identify what you’ve learned and you will start to see that shift to a more positive way of thinking

13. Writing It Down

There’s power in writing things down. The process of writing down how you feel can help clarify your feelings and emotions. Reading them back to yourself can give great insight and help you find possible ways to move on.

14. Taking A Vacation

Some may see it as running away but taking yourself out of the situation to somewhere new and unfamiliar can have a great healing effect. Seeing different parts of the world can help put your thoughts in perspective.

15. Replacing Your Thoughts With Different Ones

Sounds hard to do, right? But if you find you’re thinking too much about the past then give yourself ‘trigger’ thoughts. These are happy memories that you can pull on when you find your mind wandering – literally replacing them with more positive thoughts.

16. Learning A New Skill

This is a great one as it can play a huge part in taking your mind off unwanted thoughts. Learn a new language or start going to that yoga class. Putting your energy into something else will mean less energy spent lamenting the past.

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17. Finding Closure By Confronting

If you feel your lack of ability to let go of something is because you never got closure from the situation then consider confronting it. This doesn’t mean attacking anyone or shouting blame but having it out with the person that hurt you (once you’re ready) can bring a sense of peace afterwards.

18. Changing Your Circumstances

Sometimes a change of circumstance is needed. We can often get trapped in the same way of life, living in fear that change is slightly uncertain and this will move us away from what we’re holding on to. But there’s great empowerment in changing your life – sometimes a fresh approach is all you need to start healing.

19. Acknowledging Your Three Options

There are three fundamental options when it comes to situations we don’t like: remove yourself, change it, or accept it. If you find that you’re just stuck and unable to move on then at some point you need to be brave and acknowledge what you need to do to properly heal yourself. For some, it comes quite quickly and for others it may take a while before they find the courage. Either way, there’s no wrong or right time but just remind yourself that one of these options is what you’re aiming for.

20. Getting Rid Of Reminders

No matter what it is you’re trying to let go of, having reminders around only further expands your thoughts on the situation. Put aside a time to gather up anything that serves as a reminder and throw them away or put them out of sight.

21. Letting Yourself Be Happy

Last but certainly not least, is allowing yourself to be happy. Don’t restrict yourself from the happiness you deserve. Self-love is the most important thing – you can’t move on and lead a happy and fulfilling life without the ability to love the person you are – faults and all. Know that you will heal eventually and that you’ll be a better, stronger person because of it.

Featured photo credit: Stefan Kunze via albumarium.com

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Jenny Marchal

A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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Last Updated on October 13, 2020

12 Things High Self-Esteem People Don’t Do

12 Things High Self-Esteem People Don’t Do

Having high self-esteem is important if you are aiming for personal or professional success. Interestingly, most people will high levels of self-esteem act in similar ways. That’s why it’s often easy to pick them out in a crowd. There’s something about the way they hold themselves and speak, isn’t there?

We all have different hopes, dreams, experiences, and paths, but confidence has its own universal language. This list will present some of the things you won’t find yourself doing if you have high self-esteem.

1. Compare Yourself to Others

People with low self-esteem are constantly comparing their situation to others. On the other hand, people with higher self-esteem show empathy and compassion while also protecting their own sanity. They know how much they can handle and when they can offer a helping hand.

In the age of social media, however, social comparisons are nearly ubiquitous. One study found that “participants who used Facebook most often had poorer trait self-esteem, and this was mediated by greater exposure to upward social comparisons on social media”[1]. Basically, you will feel worse about yourself if you are constantly getting glimpses into lives that you consider to be better than yours.

Try to limit your time on social media. Also, when you do start scrolling, keep in mind that each profile is carefully crafted to create the appearance of a perfect life. Check yourself when you find yourself wishing for greener grass.

2. Be Mean-Spirited

People with low self-esteem bully others. They take pleasure in putting other people down. People with positive self-esteem see no need to down other people, choosing instead to encourage and celebrate successes.

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If you find that you feel the need to put others down, analyze where that’s coming from. If they’ve had success in life, help them feel good about that achievement. They may do the same for you one day.

3. Let Imperfection Ruin Your Day

Perfectionism isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but obsessing over making everything perfect is a sign that you have low self-esteem and can lead to never-ending negative thoughts. This can turn into an inability to solve problems creatively, which will only make self-esteem issues worse. 

Those with high self-esteem disconnect from the results and do their best without expecting perfection.

People with that kind of confidence understand that messing up is a part of life and that each time they aim and miss success, they’ll at least learn something along the way.

If you miss the mark, or if your plan doesn’t work out exactly as you would have liked, take a deep breath and see if you can pivot in order to do better next time.

4. Dwell on Failure

It’s common to hear people dwelling on all the ways things will go wrong. They are positive that their every failure signals an impossible task or an innate inability to do something. People with healthy self-esteem discover why they failed and try again.

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People with higher levels of confidence also tend to adopt a growth mindset[2]. This type of thinking supports the idea that most of your abilities can be improved and altered, as opposed to being fixed.

For example, instead of saying, “I’m just not good at math; that’s why I did bad on the test,” someone with a growth mindset would say, “Math is difficult for me, so I’ll have to put in some more practice to improve next time.”

Next time you experience a failure, check out this video to help you believe in yourself again:

5. Devalue Your Self-Esteem

People with high self-esteem value their own perception of themselves – they understand that they come first and don’t feel guilty about taking care of themselves. They believe charity starts within, and if they don’t believe that, they’ll never have a healthy self-image.

Self-care is often top of the priority list for people with self-esteem. For some ways to practice self-care, check out this article.

6. Try to Please Others

They can’t please all the people all the time, so confident people first focus on doing what will make them feel fulfilled and happy. While they will politely listen to others’ thoughts and advice, they know that their goals and dreams have to be completed on their own terms.

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7. Close Yourself off

Confident people have the ability to be vulnerable. It’s those with poor self-esteem that hide all the best parts of themselves behind an emotional wall. Instead of keeping the real you a secret, be open and honest in all your dealings.

As Brené Brown, author of Daring Greatly, points out, “Vulnerability is about showing up and being seen”[3]. When you embrace each facet of who you are and allow others to see them as well, it will create deeper, more meaningful connections in your life. When that happens, you’ll realize that perfection doesn’t lead to people liking you more.

You can learn more about the power of vulnerability in this TED talk with Brené Brown:

8. Follow and Avoiding Leading

People with low self-esteem don’t believe they can lead, so they end up following others, sometimes into unhealthy situations. Rather than seeking a sense of belonging, people with high self-esteem walk their own paths and create social circles that build them up.

9. Fish for Compliments

If you’re constantly seeking compliments, you’re not confident. People with high self-esteem always do their best (and go out of their way to do good deeds) because it’s what they want to do, not because they’re seeking recognition. If you need to hear compliments, say them to yourself in the mirror.

You can even try some positive affirmations if you need a confidence boost. Check out these affirmations to get started.

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10. Be Lazy

People work harder when they have high self-esteem because they’re not bogged down by doubts and complaints. Those with low self-esteem end up procrastinating and wasting their energy thinking about all the work they have to do rather than rolling up their sleeves and just getting it done.

This may also bounce off perfectionism. Perfectionists often feel intimidated by certain projects if they fear that they won’t be able to complete them perfectly. Tap into your confidence and simply do your best without worrying about a perfect outcome.

11. Shy Away from Risks

When you trust yourself, you’ll be willing to participate more in life. People with low self-esteem are always on the sidelines, waiting for the perfect moment to jump in. Instead of letting life pass you by, have confidence in your success and take the risks necessary to succeed.

12. Gossip

People with low self-esteem are always in other peoples’ business – they’re more interested in what everyone else is doing than themselves. People with high self-esteem are more interested in their own life and stay out of others’ affairs.

Instead of participating in idle gossip, talk about some positive news you heard recently, or that fascinating book you just finished. There’s plenty to talk about beyond what this or that person did wrong in their life.

The Bottom Line

Self-esteem is to success in life. People who maintain a healthy level of self-esteem believe in themselves and push themselves to succeed, while those with low confidence feel a sense of entitlement.

If you need a boost in your self-image and mental health, avoid negative self-talk and the other mistakes of people with low self-esteem. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.

More Tips on Building Confidence

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Psychology of Popular Media Culture: Social comparison, social media, and self-esteem
[2] Brain Pickings: Fixed vs. Growth: The Two Basic Mindsets That Shape Our Lives
[3] Forbes: Brene Brown: How Vulnerability Can Make Our Lives Better

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