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When You Start To Let Go Of the Past, These 3 Incredible Things Will Happen

When You Start To Let Go Of the Past, These 3 Incredible Things Will Happen

Now it’s clear to me that there is no complete freedom from the past. Learning to let go of the past is a reflex in a continuum of self-care. To aid you in your journey towards tomorrow whilst remaining kind enough not to forget saying good-bye to yesterday, here’s a short list to encourage your efforts and a chance to journey with me as I learn to let go of the past. If you let go of your past, these three things will happen to you.

1. You will feel more alive.

Moving on from the past may benefit your health after all. A 2004 Harvard Medical School issue found that those who forgave after a conflict experienced improvements in blood pressure and heart rate, and a decreased workload for the heart. The issue also found that those who converted anger into compassion during meditation felt less physical pain and anxiety than those who received regular care. Though this issue is a decade old, similar studies conducted over the years have suggested similar results. Findings from the Mayo Clinic argue that accepting harmful events can promote healthier relationships and reduce depression.

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Finally, the findings from the latter organization concluded that when we choose not to let the past burden our future, the spiritual part of ourselves become more alive. This is an interesting claim, especially since highlighting intangible thoughts and bringing them into the light of clarity symbolizes the basin of numerous philosophical and religious schools. Now, I don’t think of myself as particularly spiritual but I have experienced that letting go of the past made me feel not only healthier but also happier with life in general.

2. You will learn with more depth and color.

”I realize there’s something incredibly honest about trees in winter, how they’re experts at letting things go.” – Jeffrey McDaniel

Having the ability to recover from negative events and to become healthy, strong, and successful again is the hallmark of a psychological term known as resilience. Although it might seem unrelated to what we’re discussing right now, those who move on from the past tend to be more resilient. Moving past the old with a positive outlook is a given in the toolkit of thriving beyond any primal fear! Just think, did Lincoln’s nervous breakdown deter him from becoming president? Einstein apparently suffered from a speech delay in his childhood, but that didn’t rip apart his ambitious visualizations! Those people and innumerable other people endured much in their life but were able to form themselves a strong-willed shell to coat their developing process of recovery. But what does resilience have to do with learning better?

According to Dr. Cal Crow, the co-founder and Program Director of the Center for Learning Connections, resilient people build solid goals and support them with a foundation of desire which embraces the future rather than sulks in its presence. Personally, I lacked a drive to pursue high grades in Grade Eight and Nine. The building where high school was set up didn’t mimic a real high school in the slightest instance. I didn’t feel like I could ever accept how radical this school’s premises were. It’s important not to forget that part of resilience is goal-management, as mentioned before, and the school required us to fill out sheets describing the educational goals we planned to achieve today. So what’s something that’s tough and unpleasant and yet deserves some much-needed gratitude in your life?

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3. You will connect with humankind in harmony.

When I first became a high school student a while ago, the new environment was abundant with unfamiliar faces. Most of them were older and more experienced in the fiesta of hormonal adolescents and soon my memories of being bullied before troubled me once more. During the graduating year of elementary school, I hid in bushes during recess and paced sordidly behind the swing set when the bushes were muddy or insects were feasting on it. The pacing triggered contempt from classmates. A few children delighted in my anguish, targeting me with callous remarks, and I graduated with an alienated persona and a thinner skin.

I’m not sure if I’ll ever forget what happened, but something instrumental to learning to let go of the past is learning to forgive or to not hold grudges. Forgiveness is essentially refusing to identify as a victim and choosing to release the suffocating power and control an offending situation or a person might have previously burdened you with. Try this practical little exercise in times of need: find a piece of paper and write a letter to someone who hurt you deeply. Don’t edit it or scan it for grammatical errors; just recall those painful, dehumanizing, humiliating memories that situation or person inflicted upon you. Write with the impression that they’ll understand what you truly went through and imagine in great detail that they’re reading it – just remember not to send it to anyone! Once you’re finished, reread it and add anything missing then shred it into tiny little pieces or throw it out into a fire and watch it disintegrate. The takeaway of this is that letting go of the past is ultimately more relevant to your life when you incorporate a cathartic release such as writing or art.

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

For the original article by Celestine: 13 Helping Points When Things Don’t Go Your Way

“We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” ~Unknown

“It’s not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it.” – Hans Selye

Have you ever experienced moments when things just don’t go your way? For example, losing your keys, accidentally spilling your drink, waking up late, missing your buses/trains, forgetting to bring your things, and so on?

You’re not alone. All of us, myself included, experience times when things don’t go as we expect.

Here is my guide on how to deal with daily setbacks.

1. Take a step back and evaluate

When something bad happens, take a step back and evaluate the situation. Some questions to ask yourself:

  1. What is the problem?
  2. Are you the only person facing this problem in the world today?
  3. How does this problem look like at an individual level? A national level? On a global scale?
  4. What’s the worst possible thing that can happen to you as a result of this?
  5. How is it going to impact your life in the next 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?

Doing this exercise is not to undermine the problem or disclaiming responsibility, but to consider different perspectives, so you can adopt the best approach for it. Most problems we encounter daily may seem like huge issues when they crop up, but most, if not all, don’t have much impact in our life beyond that day.

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2. Vent if you have to, but don’t linger on the problem

If you feel very frustrated and need to let off some steam, go ahead and do that. Talk to a friend, complain, crib about it, or scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you happy.

At the same time, don’t get caught up with venting. While venting may temporarily relieve yourself, it’s not going to solve the problem ultimately. You don’t want to be an energy vampire.

Vent if there’s a need to, but do it for 15 to 20 minutes. Then move on.

3. Realize there are others out there facing this too

Even though the situation may be frustrating, you’re not alone. Remember there are almost 7 billion people in the world today, and chances are that other people have faced the same thing before too. Knowing it’s not just you helps you to get out of a self-victimizing mindset.

4. Process your thoughts/emotions

Process your thoughts/emotions with any of the four methods:

  1. Journal. Write your unhappiness in a private diary or in your blog. It doesn’t have to be formal at all – it can be a brain dump on rough paper or new word document. Delete after you are done.
  2. Audio taping. Record yourself as you talk out what’s on your mind. Tools include tape recorder, your PC (Audacity is a freeware for recording/editing audio) and your mobile (most mobiles today have audio recording functions). You can even use your voice mail for this. Just talking helps you to gain awareness of your emotions. After recording, play back and listen to what you said. You might find it quite revealing.
  3. Meditation. At its simplest form, meditation is just sitting/lying still and observing your reality as it is – including your thoughts and emotions. Some think that it involves some complex mambo-jumbo, but it doesn’t.
  4. Talking to someone. Talking about it with someone helps you work through the issue. It also gets you an alternate viewpoint and consider it from a different angle.

5. Acknowledge your thoughts

Don’t resist your thoughts, but acknowledge them. This includes both positive and negative thoughts.

By acknowledging, I mean recognizing these thoughts exist. So if say, you have a thought that says, “Wow, I’m so stupid!”, acknowledge that. If you have a thought that says, “I can’t believe this is happening to me again”, acknowledge that as well.

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Know that acknowledging the thoughts doesn’t mean you agree with them. It’s simply recognizing the existence of said thoughts so that you can stop resisting yourself and focus on the situation on hand.

6. Give yourself a break

If you’re very stressed out by the situation, and the problem is not time sensitive, then give yourself a break. Take a walk, listen to some music, watch a movie, or get some sleep. When you’re done, you should feel a lot more revitalized to deal with the situation.

7. Uncover what you’re really upset about

A lot of times, the anger we feel isn’t about the world. You may start off feeling angry at someone or something, but at the depth of it, it’s anger toward yourself.

Uncover the root of your anger. I have written a five part anger management series on how to permanently overcome anger.

After that, ask yourself: How can you improve the situation? Go to Step #9, where you define your actionable steps. Our anger comes from not having control on the situation. Sitting there and feeling infuriated is not going to change the situation. The more action we take, the more we will regain control over the situation, the better we will feel.

8. See this as an obstacle to be overcome

As Helen Keller once said,

“Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

Whatever you’re facing right now, see it as an obstacle to be overcome. In every worthy endeavor, there’ll always be countless obstacles that emerge along the way. These obstacles are what separate the people who make it, and those who don’t. If you’re able to push through and overcome them, you’ll emerge a stronger person than before. It’ll be harder for anything to get you down in the future.

9. Analyze the situation – Focus on actionable steps

In every setback, there are going to be things that can’t be reversed since they have already occurred. You want to focus on things that can still be changed (salvageable) vs. things that have already happened and can’t be changed. The only time the situation changes is when you take steps to improve it. Rather than cry over spilt milk, work through your situation:

  1. What’s the situation?
  2. What’s stressing you about this situation?
  3. What are the next steps that’ll help you resolve them?
  4. Take action on your next steps!

After you have identified your next steps, act on them. The key here is to focus on the actionable steps, not the inactionable steps. It’s about regaining control over the situation through direct action.

10. Identify how it occurred (so it won’t occur again next time)

A lot of times we react to our problems. The problem occurs, and we try to make the best out of what has happened within the context. While developing a healthy coping mechanism is important (which is what the other helping points are on), it’s also equally important, if not more, to understand how the problem arose. This way, you can work on preventing it from taking place next time, vs. dealing reactively with it.

Most of us probably think the problem is outside of our control, but reality is most of the times it’s fully preventable. It’s just a matter of how much responsibility you take over the problem.

For example, for someone who can’t get a cab for work in the morning, he/she may see the problem as a lack of cabs in the country, or bad luck. However, if you trace to the root of the problem, it’s probably more to do with (a) Having unrealistic expectations of the length of time to get a cab. He/she should budget more time for waiting for a cab next time. (b) Oversleeping, because he/she was too tired from working late the previous day. He/she should allocate enough time for rest next time. He/she should also pick up better time management skills, so as to finish work in lesser time.

11. Realize the situation can be a lot worse

No matter how bad the situation is, it can always be much worse. A plus point vs. negative point analysis will help you realize that.

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12. Do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it

No matter how bad your situation may seem, do your best, but don’t kill yourself over it. Life is too beautiful to worry so much over daily issues. Take a step back (#1), give yourself a break if you need to (#6), and do what you can within your means (#9). Everything else will unfold accordingly. Worrying too much about the outcome isn’t going to change things or make your life any better.

13. Pick out the learning points from the encounter

There’s something to learn from every encounter. What have you learned from this situation? What lessons have you taken away?

After you identify your learning points, think about how you’re going to apply them moving forward. With this, you’ve clearly gained something from this encounter. You’ve walked away a stronger, wiser, better person, with more life lessons to draw from in the future.

Get the manifesto version of this article: [Manifesto] What To Do When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Featured photo credit: Alice Donovan Rouse via unsplash.com

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