6 Tips: The Art of Letting Go
This is somewhat of a not really follow up to my previous blog “Open Letter”. You don’t need to have read it to read this one. Because, in reality, we’ve all been hurt in our lives. Some more than others? Sure. Maybe you’ve been hurt by your family, such as a difficult childhood or your parents divorce. Maybe you’ve just lost your job. Maybe you’ve struggled with self acceptance and self esteem. Perhaps someone left you, a friend, a significant other, a parent, somebody you trusted. Maybe someone died. My point is, I don’t think there is a single adult that is alive today who hasn’t gone through some sort of emotional pain.
As I’ve said before, I’m no expert. Like, on anything. But what I can share with you is the absolute truth of what I do know. After my last blog, I had a lot of people write to me on here, on twitter, and via email. And one phrase that kept being brought up was how I seemed to be a peace with “letting go”. Getting to that point is no easy road to take, and I think pretty much everyone knows that. It’s so easy to get stuck along that path, no matter what our circumstances of hurt are. So I thought I’d put together a few tips that I’ve learned so far.
1. Acceptance. In order to move on and let go of anything, I think you first have to come to the realization that there is something causing you negativity in life, whether it be a choice you made, a person, a loss, or any kind of situation. You have to be able to realize and identify what that is so you can accept the fact that you need to start the process of letting it go.
2. You have to feel it. There is no way around that. Putting your feelings in a jar and storing it on the top shelf where you never have to look at it isn’t “letting it go”. It’s putting it off, because I promise that jar will coming toppling over one day and shatter all over. I think letting go, of any kind, is a lot like grief. And sometimes it is actually grief. It’s going to hurt like hell, but not acknowledging those feelings will only hurt you far worse in the future. Letting something go, and feeling that loss is the first step in moving on. When you first feel it, it’s like carrying a heavy brick around with you all the time. And you get so tired and it’s oh so heavy. But as time passes, and you continue to carry that brick, you get a little used to it. So it seems a little bit lighter. More time passes, and sometimes you forget that you are even carrying the brick in the first place. But you’ll see something, or hear something, that reminds you of what you let go, and you reach into your pocket, and there is that brick again. Sometimes, letting go doesn’t mean getting over whatever we’re going through. It means learning to accept what has happened, and learn to live with that. But you can’t skip feeling through it to get to that point.
3. Focus on self-care. A lot of times, when I’ve had to let go of something or someone, it’s resulted in my depression worsening. What a lot of people don’t realize, and even those who struggle with depression themselves, is it is just like any other illness. If you had the flu, you would do what you had to do in order to take care of yourself to get better. It’s the same thing with depression. After letting go, it’s really important to focus on self care. If you need to talk to someone, a trusted friend, your doctor, or a therapist, please do it. It helps, I promise. If you feel like you need a good cry, let yourself have that time. If you need a day in bed with ice cream, your dog, and netflix, do it! No matter what, be sure to put your wellness first.
4. What are you gaining? Whenever we close one door, another door always opens. Focusing on the positive and the opportunities ahead is really important during the process of letting go. Maybe you’re letting go of a toxic family member or a significant other. What have you taken from that experience? What have you learned? These are great questions to ask yourself and keep in mind. There is always a lesson to be learned. Focus on the fact that you are coming out of this situation stronger than you were before. Focus on the new possibilities. What have you taken from your situation and how can you apply it to everyday life? Or maybe even something you’ve never done before! Dream big.
5. Make the choice. When letting go, you’re faced with a bunch of different choices. One of the big ones is are you going to continue to be a victim? Now, I totally support being the victim. Sometimes you ARE the victim. But you can’t be that way forever. You can’t blame others either, and the whole world isn’t against you. Yes, your feelings matter. And you have to take care of them and yourself. But you can’t let it get to a point where your feelings are overriding everything and nothing else matters. You have to choose to stop feeling bad about your situation, and to start feeling good. It’s a choice you have to make, and that responsibility is yours alone. You have to be responsible for finding your own happiness because nobody can do that for you.
6. Forgive them. Forgive yourself. In all of my experiences of “letting go”, there is usually someone to forgive, whether that person is me or somebody else. This is the most important part of letting go. We don’t have to ever forget. We can always take with us what we learned from a situation. But we can’t allow ourselves to get stuck in our own stubbornness and wallow in our pain. You end up hurting yourself the most when you handle the hurts in life that way. Forgiveness isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a tangible way of letting something go. A lot of times, we may end up blaming ourselves for a situation too. There’s a difference between taking responsibility and constantly blaming and beating yourself up. Take responsibility, and then forgive yourself too. Forgiveness is the most freeing thing you can do for yourself. Getting to that place is hard, but it’s worth it.
Nobody’s life should be defined by pain. It can completely cripple the way we live our lives. It adds stress. It induces and worsens depression and anxiety. It impacts our daily lives. If we hold on to that, we really aren’t doing ourselves justice. So, please. Do it for yourself- let it go. The sense of freedom you feel may even surprise you.
I hope you guys found this tips a little useful, and I am sure I will have more to add later. But for now, I hope you take these six to heart. It’s a difficult thing, but if I can do it, trust me, I know you can too.
I hope everybody has a great week and enjoys a big cup of coffee on this Monday morning! See you soon!