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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 August 19, 2019

How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

How to Be True to Yourself and Live the Life You Want

We live in a world that constantly tells us what to do, how to act, what to be. Knowing how to be true to yourself and live the life you want can be a challenge.

When someone asks how we are, we assume that the person does not mean the question sincerely, for it would lead to an in depth conversation. So telling them that you are good or fine, even if you’re not, is the usual answer.

In an ideal world, we would stop and truly listen. We wouldn’t be afraid to be ourselves. Instead, when we answer about how we are doing, our mask, the persona we show the world, tightens. Sometimes even more so than it might have been before. Eventually, it becomes hard to take off, even when you’re alone.

Imagine a world where we asked how someone was doing and they really told us. Imagine a world where there were no masks, only transparency when we talked to one another.

If you want to live in a world that celebrates who you are, mistakes and all, take off the mask. It doesn’t mean you have to be positive or fine all the time.

According to a Danish psychologist, Svend Brinkman, we expect each other to be happy and fine every second, and we expect it of ourselves. And that “has a dark side.”[1] Positive psychology can have its perks but not at the expense at hiding how you truly feel in order to remain seemingly positive to others.

No one can feel positive all the time and yet, that is what our culture teaches us to embrace. We have to unlearn this. That said, telling others you are ‘“fine”’ all the time is actually detrimental to your wellbeing, because it stops you from being assertive, from being authentic or your truest self.

When you acknowledge a feeling, it leads you to the problem that’s causing that feeling; and once you identify the problem, you can find a solution to it. When you hide that feeling, you stuff it way down so no one can help you.You can’t even help yourself.

Feelings are there for one reason: to be felt. That doesn’t mean you have to act on that feeling. It just means that you start the process of problem solving so you can live the life you want.

1. Embrace Your Vulnerability

When you are your true self, you can better self-advocate or stand up for what you need. Your self-expression matters, and you should value your voice. It’s okay to need things, it’s okay to speak up, and it’s okay not to be okay.

Telling someone you are simply “fine” when you are not, does your story and your journey a great disservice. Being true to yourself entails embracing all aspects of your existence.

When you bring your whole self to the table, there is nothing that you can’t beat. Here’re 7 benefits of being vulnerable you should learn.

Can you take off the mask? This is the toughest thing anyone can do. We have learned to wait until we are safe before we start to be authentic.

In relationships especially, this can be hard. Some people avoid vulnerability at any cost. And in our relationship with ourselves, we can look in the mirror and immediately put on the mask.

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It all starts with your story. You have been on your own unique journey. That journey has led you here, to the person you are today. You have to be unafraid, and embrace all aspects of that journey.

You should seek to thrive, not just survive. That means you do not have to compete or compare yourself with anyone.

Authenticity means you are enough. It’s enough to be who you are to get what you want.

What if for the first time ever, you were real? What if you said what you wanted to say, did what you wanted to do, and didn’t apologize for it?

You were assertive, forthcoming in your opinions or actions to stand for what is right for you, (rather than being passive or aggressive) in doing so. You didn’t let things get to you. You knew you had something special to offer.

That’s where we all should be.

So, answer me this:

How are you, really?

And know that no matter the answer, you should still be accepted.

Bravery is in the understanding that you still may not be accepted for your truth.

Bravery is knowing you matter even when others say that you do not.

Bravery is believing in yourself when all evidence counters doing so (i.e. past failures or losses)

Bravery is in being vulnerable while knowing vulnerability is a sign of strength.

It’s taking control.

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2. Choose Your Attitude in Adversity

You can take control of your destiny and live the life you want by being true to yourself. You can start anytime. You can start today.

You can start with one day at a time, just facing what happens that day. Most of us get overwhelmed when faced with the prospect of a big change. Even if the only thing we change is our attitude.

In one instant, you can become a different person with a change of attitude. When you take control of your attitude, you become able to better understand what is around you. This allows you to move forward.

Originally, you may have had a life plan. It could have started when you were little; you were hoping to become a mermaid, doctor, astronaut or all three when you grew up. You were hoping to be someone. You were hoping to be remembered.

You can still dream those dreams, but eventually reality sets in. Obstacles and struggles arise. You set on a different path when the last one didn’t work out. You think of all the “shoulds” in your life in living the life you want. You should be doing this…should be doing that…

Clayton Barbeau, psychologist, coined the term “shoulding yourself.’[2] When we are set on one path and find ourselves doing something different. It becomes all the things you should be doing rather than seeing the opportunities right in front of you.

But in all this disarray, did you lose sight of the real you?

It may be in our perceived failures and blunders that we lose sight of who we are, because we try to maintain position and status.

In being who we really are and achieving what we really want, we need to be resilient: How to Build Resilience to Face What Life Throws at You

It means that we do not see all possibilities of what might happen, but must trust ourselves to begin again, and continue to build the life we want. In the face of adversity, you must choose your attitude.

Can attitude overcome adversity? It certainly helps. While seeking to be true to yourself and live the life you want, you will have to face a fact:

Change will happen.

Whether that change is good or bad is unique to each person and their perspective.

You might have to start over, once, twice, a few times. It doesn’t mean that everything will be okay, but that you will be okay. What remains or should remain is the true you. When you’ve lost sight of that, you’ve lost sight of everything.

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And then, you rebuild. Moment after moment, day after day. We all have a choice, and in this moment, that matters.

You can choose to have a positive attitude, seeing the silver lining in each situation and, where there is none, the potential for one. Maybe that silver lining is you and what you will do with the situation. How will you use it for something good?

That’s how you can tap into yourself and your power. Sometimes it happens by accident, sometimes on purpose. It can happen when we aren’t even looking for it, or it can be your only focus. Everyone gets there differently.

You can rise, or you can remain. Your choice.

When the worst happens, you can rely on your authenticity to pull you through. That’s because Self Advocacy, speaking up to let others know what you need, is part of finding the real you.

There is nothing wrong with asking for help. Or sometimes, helping others can help us deal with the pain of a hurtful situation. You decide how you’re going to help others, and suddenly, you become your best self.

3. Do What Makes You Happy When No One’s Looking

Being the best version of you has nothing to do with your success or your status. It has everything to do with your Character, what you do when no one’s looking.

In order to create the life you want, you have to be the person you want to be. Faking it till you make it is just a way to white knuckle it through your journey. You have the fire inside of you to make things right, to put the pieces together, to live authentically. And Character is how you get there.

If you fall down and you help another up while you’re down there, it’s like you rise twice.

Along with attitude, your character is about the choices you make rather than what happens to you.

Yes, it’s about doing the right thing even when obstacles seem insurmountable.  It’s about using that mountain you’ve been given to show others it can be moved.  It’s about being unapologetically you, taking control, choosing your attitude in adversity and being the best version of you to create the life you want.

How do you know what you really want? Is it truly status or success?

Unfortunately, these things do not always bring happiness. And aspects of our image or “performance driven existence” may not achieve satisfaction. Materialism is part of our refusal to accept ourselves as enough. All the things we use to repress our true selves are about being enough.

“Enoughness” is what we truly seek, but ego gets in the way.

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Ego is the perception of self as outer worth. It’s not REAL self worth.

Ego represses our true self with a new self— the self of chasing ‘“Am I ever enough?”’ questions. And instead of filling our true selves with self-love and acceptance, when we “should ourselves” and chase “enoughness,” we feed the ego or our image.

It’s important to realize YOU ARE ENOUGH, without all the material trappings.

Stanford psychologist Meagan O’Reilly describes the damage of not thinking we are enough. One of her tactics for combating this is to complete the sentence,[3]

“If I believed I were already enough, I’d ____”

What would you do if you felt you were enough?

By believing you are enough, you can live the life you want.

So many fake it to try to get there, and they end up losing themselves when they lose more and more touch with their Authenticity.

Final Thoughts

By being yourself, you are being brave. By acknowledging all you can be, you tell the universe that you can until you believe it too. The steps are easy, and you are worth it. All of it is about the purpose you are leading and the passion that is your fuel.

Being true to yourself is all about mastering how to live life authentically rather than faking or forcing it. Having the life you want (and deserve) is about being trusting in yourself and the purpose you are living for. Both need passion behind it, fueling it each second, or you will experience burn out.

When you are authentic, you can call the road you walk your own. When you live your life for you and not just the results of all your actions (faking it till you make it), you can let go of what you don’t need. This clarifies and pushes purpose to you, living for something that is greater than you.

You will find that making decisions based on what will actually achieve your goals, will help you attain the life you want, and your success with each step, will allow you to enjoy the process. Good luck!

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Featured photo credit: Ariana Prestes via unsplash.com

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