“Forgiveness does not change the past but it does enlarge the future.” – Paul Boese
To overcome sadness, you need to let go of your old stories. You were born happy and you stayed happy until caregivers, teachers and peers unknowingly said unpleasant things to you. Now, new events can trigger these old hurts and thus make you feel more sad than they should. So when you catch yourself thinking about the old unpleasant events, engage in the tips below to overcome sadness.
1. Decide you are ready to let go of the pain, no matter what.
If you don’t make peace with the past, the associated toxic energy will eventually show up as health, weight and mood issues. You might even go to the grave with regrets. Let it go. It’s not worth the misery of bad mental and physical health.
2. Change your attitude towards your situation. You are not your story.
You’re only hurting yourself if you don’t change your attitude. The person who caused you sadness is not in pain, you are.
Your brain can be “rewired” with an attitude change. Dr. Joe Dispenza’s TEDx talk shows you:
- How old feelings are wired into memories.
- How the thought of your bad memories triggers stress responses and turns on your disease genes.
- How changing your negative attitude to compassion can release the old hurts and positively reprogram your brain.
3. Don’t focus on the suffering, focus on the gifts.
If you keep talking about the pain, its impact will be enlarged and you will drive others away with your constant rumination. Holding on to your “dark cloud” will make you lonely and miserable.
Focus on the gifts of the negative experiences instead.
The Universe purposely gave you negative experiences for the evolution of your soul. You are the only one who can make “lemonade” out of your “lemons.” The Universe rewards you with happiness when the lemonade is made. Your story of triumph will inspire others to get out of their sadness.
4. Exercise, meditate or do yoga to release the sadness.
Clear the muck from your brain. Whatever exercise and/or mindfulness modality works for you, just do it.
Here’s an example: When a former boss said something hurtful to me, my mind couldn’t stop replaying the hurt because his criticism triggered a younger “part” of me that held old wounds. So I went to Bikram Yoga (yoga in a 105 degree Fahrenheit room) four days in a row. On the fourth day, during Camel pose, my body shook and I exploded in an “ugly cry.” I knew the shaking and the tears were the boss’s toxicity leaving my body and mind. After class, the negative energy was completely gone and my brain was done thinking about this hurt. I overcame my sadness. The next time I saw this person, I was not triggered.
5. Watch a funny movie.
If you are laughing, you can’t be sad. Your brain can only experience one emotion at a time.
6. Transport yourself back to a happy memory.
Whatever you are thinking about will create your feelings. If you think about frolicking on the beach with your family, it will create positive feelings. When a happy memory triggers a smile, you won’t feel sad.
7. Ask your friends to support you in the letting go process.
Tell them what you’re going through. Ask them for a neutral perspective. Listen to them and believe what they are saying. You are making the situation worse than it has to be. Your friends will help you see the gifts in the pain. They know you are more than your story. You just have to believe you are more than your story.
8. Ask your friends to tell you to “Stop it!” every time you bring up old hurts.
Give your friends permission to say, “STOP!” every time you start to go into the story…again. Ask them to distract you and remind you of happy memories. This will shift you out of your negative state.
9. Read stories of famous people who have gotten over their past and are thriving.
a) Nick Vujicic: the man with no arms or legs.
b) Jon Morrow: one of the most successful bloggers and blogging mentors. He is a quadriplegic in a wheelchair, who has created a very successful business using only his voice and voice recognition software. There’s no reason for you to feel sad after reading Jon Morrow’s story here.
10. Watch Steve Jobs’ Stanford Commencement address.
Steve Jobs famously said, “You can connect the dots of your life backwards.” He saw the gifts of his negative events and thrived. This video has been watched over 19 million times.
11. Do something you’ve never done before.
Guitar lessons, cooking lessons, photography, gardening, “out of the box” adventure vacations, anything. New experiences will get you out of your sad rut and make you feel happy.
12. Volunteer at soup kitchens, hospitals, shelters, non-profit organizations, etc.
“Variety,” “significance” and “contribution” are basic human needs. When you serve others, you will meet new people, make new friends and expand your social circles. You will feel good about contributing to humanity. You won’t have time to think about your sadness when you are making a difference.
13. Believe that you are worthy of love and happiness.
When you believe it, you will feel love and happiness. In turn, you will attract loving and happy feelings from others.
14. Overturn your sad, negative beliefs and make them into positive ones.
Sad “parts” of our emotional selves hold faulty negative beliefs from old toxic experiences. You may not realize that the original hurts get triggered when you interact with someone who reminds you of the original painful feelings.
So when someone in your life now makes you feel sad, think back to the first time you felt the sting of not feeling worthy or loved.
For example, let’s say you hold a core belief that you are “bad.” Maybe this belief was acquired in second grade when you shamefully stood in the hallway for a time-out. Your classmates made fun of you. That seven-year-old part of you is waiting for you to talk to him or her and tell them that it’s not you who was bad, it was your behavior that was bad.
You have the power to overturn your acquired faulty belief that you are bad from that second grade incident. Bring your adult self into the scene of that original event. Give your younger self a big hug and let them know that they are awesome and that the other kids didn’t mean any harm. Let them know that they are not bad…it was the behavior that was bad. Tell them the teacher and the other kids do love you. You overreacted because no one was there to reassure you that you are not a bad kid.
Addressing old hurts through talking to your parts that hold shame, humiliation, worthlessness, etc., will help you overcome the sadness from faulty core beliefs such as, “I’m not lovable, I’m not worthy, I’m not enough.” When you give your younger parts the love and reassurances they needed but that they never got, your dark cloud will lift and you will finally believe that you are worthy of love and happiness.
You have the power to heal the sadness of your wounded younger parts.
15. Have compassion for the person who makes you sad. They are a victim of their past too.
Many of us are victims of victims. These people were more than likely “acting out” from their own wounded parts. They probably had no idea they were hurting you. When you feel compassion towards them and understand where they are coming from, it will be easier to let the hurt go.
You can’t make the other person change. You can only change yourself by changing the filter through which you see their behavior towards you.
16. Tell the sad part of you that everything is going to be OK.
Let this side of yourself know that you are going to overcome the sadness together. Ask the sad part what he or she needs from you to feel happy. Then give it to them.
17. Look at the sadness from a neutral third-party perspective.
Using the above example, step into the point of the triangle as Oprah, the “neutral observer.” From Oprah’s perspective, what is really going on between you and the other person who hurt you? As Oprah, you will be able to see objectively what the situation is really about. It not as bad as you make it out to be.
18. Step into the shoes of the other person and see from their perspective why they hurt you.
You will be able to let go of sad feelings when you step into the shoes of the person who makes you hurt.
Here are some possible examples of being in your Dad’s shoes:
- “I loved you very much. I couldn’t show you how much I loved you because your mom would get jealous if I doted on you. I had to hold my feelings back because your mother was not mentally stable.”
- “I was afraid of your mom because I needed to feel worthy of her love because I was emotionally abused by my Dad. I couldn’t risk losing her love. That’s why I couldn’t show how I really felt about you.”
Now you see why your Dad makes you sad and why he couldn’t show you love in the way he wanted to. He was “acting out” because he was a victim of his past too. Feeling sorry for him will positively shift your energy.
Finally, step into the highest place of spirit. What needs to happen between these two people? They need to forgive and show how much they really do love one another.
19. Write a forgiveness letter to the person who makes you sad.
- I forgive you for…
- I understand the pains you must have been going through…
- I understand how you feel…
- I forgive you. I love you.
If tears flow out as you write this letter, you are eliminating negative energy. You will feel lighter. You can burn the letter afterwards. This will complete the letting go experience.
The bottom line:
To overcome sadness you need to change your thoughts. When you make peace with the past and make “lemonade” out of your “lemons,” you will thrive.