Experiences are great teachers, and learning from them is a critical skill. While the good experiences add to the richness of life, it is bad experiences that help us grow. Thus, the art of letting go is very crucial to leading a healthy and happy life.
Letting go means releasing all your negative and suppressed emotions to self-heal and reach enlightenment.
The difference is that some people find it easy to distance themselves after a difficult experience, while others hold on to those hurtful experiences and find it harder. This results in these experiences having a lasting impact on their mental health. Holding on to the past will hold you back from creating a strong sense of self. That self isn't defined by your past, but rather by who you want to be.
Most people handle their unhealthy feelings in one of three ways-
By Suppression: Consciously suppressing feelings leads to tension in the neck and back, irritability, mood swings, insomnia, menstrual disorders, headache, hypertension, and allergies. Another is repression, unconsciously repressing feelings because of guilt and fear which leads to attacking mode, aggression, and violence
By expressing: The feelings are vented out, verbalized, and stated in body language. Only positive feelings remain to be expressed. This is a very important point to understand, for many people in society today believe that expressing their feelings frees them from the feelings. The facts are to the contrary. The expression of a feeling, first, tends to propagate that feeling and give it greater energy. Second, the expression of the feeling merely allows the remainder to be suppressed out of awareness leads to rage.
By Escape: Escape is the avoidance of feelings through diversion. People are sometimes terrified of facing themselves. They do constant frantic activities like talking, endless meaningless socializing, texting, reading, music playing, working, traveling, sightseeing, shopping, overeating, gambling, movie-going, substance use - pill-taking, drug-using, and cocktail-partying.
Some people have trouble letting go of their unpleasant emotions and feelings because they think that is part of their identity. You all have experienced physical and emotional pain at some point in your lives. It’s completely human to feel frustrated, irritated, and agitated because of that pain.
Holding onto the things you no longer need might feel comforting. You can face a lot of resistance when you try to let go of people. A call, thought, or memory, is enough to reel you back in. Even though you know that hurting your body or mind is not a good idea, you feel like you can't stop.
To move on to make space in your life for a healthy and happy relationship, peace with yourself and your surroundings, undisputed thoughts, focused, to make better choices, one can practice the techniques of letting go. Learning how to let things go requires a conscious commitment and decision.
Letting go is a practice, requiring discipline, focus, and embracing open vulnerability as a strength rather than shame. You need to learn to live in the present and let go of anything in your past that holds you back.
It is the resistance that keeps the feeling going. Handling an emotional crisis leads to greater wisdom and results in lifetime benefits.
People who struggle to let go of specific events from the past may have traumatic experiences, toxic or unhealthy relationships, feelings of resentment and anger, and numerous expectations from others also contribute to difficult situations which make one psychologically and emotionally disturbed.
Trauma is the result of a negative event. It's a kind of psychological wound that can result from any distressing experience, such as a complicated relationship, breakup, toxic relationship, loss of loved ones, traffic collisions, deep embarrassment, sexual violence, sexual abuse, bullying, life-threatening illnesses, childbirth, being kidnapped, and natural disasters.
Trauma may lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and insomnia along with general ongoing fear and worry. Traumatic stress affects the brain, which makes it crucial to take steps toward recovery and mitigate its negative effects and impact as much as possible.
Yes, it can take time or years to fully reclaim the inner calm and become psychologically whole. However, most people recover and display resilience over time. Taking the first step is what matters. Breaking the pattern is necessary.
Past trauma, accept support
Getting support for past trauma makes you want to heal and be willing to accept the help. Support can be from family members, friends, group support, or a therapist.
After acceptance, find the right help
Finding out the right type of help for your situation is necessary. If a therapist seems like the right step for you, you can look specifically for a trauma-informed therapist to ensure the therapist can work with trauma and provide you with the best possible service.
Connecting with others is key to happiness, and isolating yourself while dealing with trauma can lead to negative outcomes like depression.
Research shows that exercising can improve PTSD. It can help heal faster as physical movements provide your body with much-needed, feel-good chemicals like endorphins - a hormone, naturally released in the brain to reduce pain.
Trauma can plunge its roots deep in various areas of your lives. Trauma manifests itself everywhere. Hence, practising self-care and mindfulness, meditation, establishing a healthy sleep routine, engaging in creative work, working on your feelings, avoiding recreational substances, taking breaks, not dwelling too much on the traumatic experience, forgetting the past, and focusing on what lies ahead are recommended. Massive the trauma, the more severe is the psychological distress and social disability.
According to the report of the National Centre for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)'s 2011, disasters directly impact the health of the population, resulting in physical trauma, acute disease, and emotional trauma. In addition, disasters may increase the morbidity and mortality associated with chronic disease and infectious disease through the impact on the health care system.
You can move on to forgiveness when you stop blaming others and take responsibility for your role in a specific situation. When you’re unwilling to forgive yourself, only you suffer. Resenting yourself or others will only keep you stuck in your painful, negative feelings.
Remember that by forgiving others, what you’re doing is freeing yourself from negative emotions. So, don’t just say that you have forgiven, but fully let go of those feelings of blame and anger towards them. And no past negative emotions should be carried forward while having the next meeting.
Stop being a hero
No one wants to look weak. You may have feelings of being hurt, sad and embarrassed. No need to continue rehashing your past to keep it alive. Make peace with the end, especially ugly and hurtful, and move on. Don't blame others, you can only control your reactions and not what other people do or say. Errors can be corrected as mistakes are not a final destination.
You see, reframe and interpret past events. Only those who can find a deeper meaning in life to live on are successful.
In a relationship, you are so much attached to someone that it becomes hard to even imagine detachment. You may be so in love with someone that you can't separate the 'me' from 'we'. At times, your feelings of love are so deep, that you fall hard. But when things don't happen as you wish, your mind and body start questioning- why me? What will I do now? etc. Then feelings of insecurity, fear, bondage, and losing hope come in along with many doubts. You are afraid of losing the most important person in your life and fear that you might not ever be able to fall in love and be loved again.
One relationship ruins the rest
Practically one person is not the whole world. It is just you have decided and are madly in love with someone that makes your other relationship secondary or not worthy at times. Don't let one relationship ruin the rest. If you still hold on to someone who would never come back to you, your heart would always be occupied with sadness, and you hardly let anyone else touch your heart, which is incorrect.
Understanding each relationship has its importance and value. If someone turns out to be unproductive, that's okay. Accept it. You should cherish positivity, and this is the time for you to grow and be independent. It is not the end of the world.
To release the negativity, you should stop yourself from indulging in the obsession - avoid any contact with your ex, stay away from social accounts which have despairing memories, stop wandering in the place you two visited before, and consciously detach yourself from the past, spend time with family and friends, generate new interests and develop your skills, work on yourself - keep yourself on the spinning wheel.
Life goes on for the better, don't bury yourself in a busy schedule to mend your broken heart. Write your feelings, leave some space in your schedule for yourself, and allow yourself to cry when you feel like it. Have the energy back in-store to feel positive - self-help books and outdoor activities are recommended. Appreciate the beauty of small things around you, and rebuild your daily routine. Travel to places you haven't visited, challenge yourself to quit a bad habit, expand your healthy circle, meet new people and remember to learn from experiences. Shift your attention to positive thoughts, strive to be more aware of your thoughts, feelings, and emotions, and don't take things personally.
Shift your sense of self from a passive one in which episodes happen to you, to one in which you are active in changing your attitude. Your view of seeing the truth widens with the change in attitude. Protect yourself against ongoing harm.
Forgiveness is not about shutting down your feelings, opening to the experience in an ample space of mindful awareness is an aid to it.
Expectations are premeditated resentments. According to Jean Piaget, a Swiss Psychologist, children sometimes believe that their thoughts can directly cause things to happen. He called it "magical thinking".
It turns out that many adults continue to engage in various forms of magical thinking. Prayers can be a form of magical thinking. Expectations can be of events and expectations of people, though there can be some overlap.
As per The Law of Attraction, which says that our thoughts attract events into our lives. It is a natural tendency of humans to rely on their hopes for happiness on fulfilled expectations.
Distinguishing between realistic and unrealistic expectations is necessary. The problem of expectation occurs when you expect something to happen without good reasons. If you believe that your expectations alone will bring you what you want, you are using magical thinking and setting yourself up for disappointment. Is it correct that many of you, at some point, have believed that expecting other people to behave the way you want will make them behave that way? Think what happens when the other person has no interest in living up to that expectation? You feel stunned, infuriated, and resentful. You can easily think of examples from your daily life where you have felt resentful towards people who did not live up to your expectations.
Defensible expectations are constructed by some people in their heads. Expectations among people are often based on an implicit social contract theory, without actually verbalizing expectations about give-and-take in a relationship. There can be many examples that you can relate to in your daily life. For instance, after work, you come home and find that your teen hasn’t done the dishes even after you asked them to. Do you meet your parents' expectations all the time? Has your child fulfilled all of your expectations? Are you fulfilling every expectation of the people around you? No, not really! You must have heard many people saying - please don't expect anything in return. Expectations may spoil relationships.
Let go of expectations and find something to be grateful for, even when things do not turn out the way you wished and as your experience. For example, insisting that something must happen in a certain way or that someone needs to behave a certain way, or elders have expectations from their children for grandchildren, or members of the family must listen to you as you say, your children must take full responsibility of yours when you demand, etc. but that could lead you to feel anxious, impair, and rageful – unhealthy negative emotions that can lead to self-defeating behaviors like avoidance, ignorance and even procrastination. That way of thinking is a reflection of being rigid and firm.
An American Psychologist and Psychotherapist - Albert Ellis in the 1950s introduced Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT), which helps you identify irrational beliefs and negative thought patterns that may lead to emotional and behavioral issues. The goal is to help you recognize and alter those beliefs and negative thinking patterns to overcome psychological issues and mental distress.
Many people hold irrational beliefs about themselves and the world around them, hence this therapy helps learn about how to manage your emotions, cognition, and behaviour, considering more realistic ways of seeing situations. In other words, it's about how you perceive the situation that matters, and changing your perception, can change how you feel.
One of the two core feelings that arise after our expectations are not matched by reality is a disappointment, and another is resentment. Disappointment occurs when you have unrealistic expectations of a positive outcome; when you are optimistic despite the more realistic and probable conclusion to events. The sheer exasperation of having high expectations that are not met can result in triggering anger, stress, sensitivity, change in eating patterns, and irritability.
To make better decisions in life, you can begin to work on your cognition and emotional responses. It is suggested to work on –
Open-Mindedness - You can remain open to many possibilities of life instead of fixating on a single, hence you can minimize any feelings of disappointment and resentment.
Self-Esteem - Grow belief and trust in yourself along with self-love. This will help you face whatever life brings to you.
Acceptance - Rather than believing that you have control over your life, you can practice accepting whatever comes your way. How you respond to it matters the most.
Playfulness - Take life less seriously. If you recognize a smile and a sense of adventure, make the situation best.
Resilience - To avoid tying yourself to a particular expectation is to build an unshakable, resilient self.
Mindfulness - Focusing on the present moment instead of overthinking about future events, you can reduce the anxiety you feel beforehand.
Realism - Thoughts should be based on realism, you need not attach your emotional well-being to the future. You’ll be aware of, and prepared for, the countless more likely outcomes.
Joy and Gratitude - Practicing gratitude and consciously looking to the brighter side of life from a mindset of abundance, naturally, you won’t feel disturbed or angry.
Benefits of Letting Go
Mainly there are three benefits of letting go, first is emotional growth where pleasure and satisfaction occur as you begin to experience the powerful effects of eliminating the blocks to achieve satisfaction in life. Second, problem-solving, where the mind itself finds solutions to unanswered questions, and third lifestyle, when you move up to courage, reasonable changes in life begin to occur.
You must let go of the negativity when you're bottling up. Don't go into blame, grief, fear, guilt, and anger. Learn to handle loss and grief, acknowledge and have the courage to let go - 'I can look at my feelings'; 'I am willing to take risks'; 'I can handle and take responsibility for it.'
An English poet, Alexander Pope wrote, "Blessed, is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed".
Embrace the peace as a result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than how you think it should be.
About the writer
Anamika is a Clinical Psychologist. She specializes in exceptional children and is an educational counsellor associated with NGOs. She also writes articles for wellbeingfinance.com