Set Yourself FREE with These 10 Tips
“Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.” ― Ann Landers
A wise person once told me that holding onto pain and suffering won't fix anything. And I 100% agree. You see when you replay past tragedies, injustices, or hurts, you not only are allowing yourself to relive all the negative emotions associated with the incident, but you are effectively living in the past and wishing that it didn't happen/happened differently.
Change happens when you let go. Change happens when you forgive. Change happens when you move forward.
Here are 10 of my favorite strategies for setting yourself free:
1. Make a Decision.
Things don’t disappear on their own. You need to make the commitment to “let it go.” Making the decision to let it go also means accepting that you have a choice. While it can be tough to see this choice when you are deep in the emotions of the moment, you ALWAYS have the option to stop reliving the pain of the past and to stop going over the details of the story in your head. The power lies within you!
2. Accept the Things You Cannot Change.
While we always have a choice on how we react to events, we don't always have a choice how others react. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees in life, and when it comes to dealing with people, this couldn't be more true! You can’t change another person, so please don’t waste your time and energy trying. Instead of investing in the outcome when dealing with others, readjust your expectations and set respectful boundaries to allow open and rational communication.
3. Re-channel Your Emotions.
A punching bag, hard physical exercise, or challenging yourself mentally are some of my best ways of redirecting negative energy. The plus side is that I often get a boost in my health or kickstart a new rewarding work project! But if none of these appeals to you, you can always try meditation (concentration can be extra tough if your emotions are running high), dancing to loud music, or releasing your creative energies through abstract painting or gardening. Whatever you choose, choose an activity that does not present an opportunity to transfer your negative energies onto other people.
4.Stop being a Victim.
Being the victim feels good — it’s like being on the winning team of you against the world. But it's also a destructive behaviour pattern that doesn't do you or others any long-term good. Yes, your feelings matter but don’t allow these emotions to override everything else good and important in your life.
5. Express Yourself.
Expressing yourself is an important part of feeling good about life, job, and relationships, but it can be a huge hurdle for some people. Start by expressing the pain/anger/hurt you feel by writing in a journal, or penning a letter you never send to the other person. Once you feel comfortable with those emotions, vent to a trusted friend (or coach, like me!), and eventually open communication channels to the person directly involved. By this point, you are likely to have a deeper understanding of what your hurt is all about, and thus more likely to reach a desirable outcome.
6. All Yourself to Make Mistakes.
It's okay to occasionally mess up or say something stupid, you're human! You've heard it before, but sometimes a gentle reminder in a difficult time is all you need to set yourself free. By acknowledging your mistakes (both to yourself and others) is a very liberating experience. Plus you can transform these into an incredible learning experience or maybe even a joke :)
8. Forgive Yourself.
Sometimes we get stuck in our pain and our stubbornness, and we can’t even begin to imagine forgiveness. But forgiveness isn’t saying, “I agree with what you did.” Instead, it’s saying, “I don’t agree with what you did, but I forgive you anyway.” Because when you forgive, you aren’t doing it for the other person; you’re doing it for yourself.
7. Focus on the Future.
When you focus on the here and now, you have less time to think about the past. When the past memories creep into your consciousness (as they are bound to do from time to time), acknowledge them for a moment and then bring yourself gently back into the present moment, and focus on what your new re-imagined future looks like.
If you need help finding this new focus, ask yourself: "What can I focus my time and energy on instead to make positive progress or a change in my life? What one small step can I take today to get started with that?" My experience has been that by switching my focus from what I cannot change to what I actually have influence over and by doing that over and over again, it becomes easier and easier to stop worrying and to let go of what has happened or what I cannot control.
Letting go is not easy.
I have personally stumbled on this many a time, but the important thing is being able to pick yourself up and carry on. I loved this article by Ilene Strauss Cohen Ph.D. featured in Psychology Today - she summed up "letting go" so beautifully and succintly with these words: "Carl Jung said, “I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.” There’s a lesson in that for all of us: Try to let go of whatever it is that’s holding you back from experiencing yourself. You’ll probably realize that you are not what other people say you are. You are not your pain, your past, or your emotions. It’s the negative ideas about ourselves and our hurtful self-talk that get in the way of who we really want to be. Being able to let go requires a strong sense of self, which gives you the ability to learn and grow from your experiences."
If you need a sounding board, some clarity, or a bit of motivation to help you let go of a past event or experience, I would love to walk that road with you - reach out to me to set up a free consultation call.