You will live with emotional pain as long as you identify with the problems/ issues of the past.
Holding on is about believing in the past.
Letting go is about moving on so you can create a better, brighter and bolder future.
You probably know this already. The big question is HOW?
You start with self-reflection – you can’t let go of something if you don’t know you’re holding onto it!
Here are ten things that humans commonly hold onto:
- Discontent with self: You re-live past mistakes, playing them over and over in your mind for months or even years. Your inner critic is so harsh that your self-esteems is a crumpled mess. You will never be good enough or successful enough. EVER.
- Stress: You experience feelings of overwhelm on a daily basis. You continually think about all the work you have to do and stress abut how you’ll never get it done. Your shoulders are tense, your back is full of knots and you don’t actually know how to relax your body. You have to be doing something constructive every minute of every day. You sleep badly at night and skip exercise, healthy eating and nurturing yourself because you are too busy.
- Worries: You worry about everything. The most common thought in your head starts with ‘What if…” . You often lie awake at night worrying about the future. You feel helpless because so many things can go wrong and you want to control everything.
- Relationships (unhealthy ones and past ones): Your current relationship is unhealthy and unhappy and yet you do nothing to change it – except think about it and complain about it continually. OR – you think about a past relationship all the time, wishing it could have been different, moping about the fact that that its over, telling yourself over and over that you actually can’t live without that person; you spend every spare minute stalking them on social media and plotting how you can get them back.
- Negative feelings like anger/ bitterness / resentment/ revenge: Your daily focus is on what the person did to you. You think about the circumstances over and over, allowing the anger and bitterness to fill your entire being. You plot your revenge and resentfully think about how they have ruined your life. You almost enjoy those negative feelings and wallow in them whenever you can.
- Bad habits: Self-sabotage is the name of your game. You know the actions you are taking are bad for you, yet you choose not to change. You have a list of handy excuses so that you are able to rationalize your behaviors. You truly believe you can’t help yourself and so you let yourself off the hook.
- Fear: You hold onto living a small and mediocre life. You are scared to try new things, you are scared to be bold in your choices, you’re scared to ruffle feathers. You refuse to do anything unless you are almost guaranteed that it will work. Failure is not an option in your life.
- Being right: You are always right. You feel indignant when other people don’t see it your way. Your rigidity and inflexibility cause unhappiness in others and you don’t care. You are not a listener: you might pretend to hear the other side of the story, but are busy preparing the defense of your idea whilst they speak. You judge others harshly. You refuse to entertain any other possibilities because you know you are right – so why bother?
- Unhappy circumstances: You hate your job or your partner or your life. Yet you stay. You use your misery to get sympathy from others or to manipulate others. You complain bitterly about your life and yet you take no action to change anything. You feel like a martyr because you are able to live with what you despise. You believe this makes you a better person.
- Expectations: You experience disappointment at every turn of life. People disappoint you. Holidays disappoint you. Work disappoints you. Nothing is ever good enough. Nothing ever works out. Most of your sentences contain the word ‘should’. He should be… ; They should have been… ; I should ….
There is a common thread that runs through all these. Can you think what it is?
As you read through the list, you may have recognized something that will help you to identify what you are holding onto that is keeping you from moving forward.
Alternatively, take a solid chunk of time for yourself. Reflect on your life.
Answer these questions:
- What is working in your life? What can you continue doing/ thinking/ being that is supporting those parts of your life that are working for you?
- What is not working in your life? What are you being that is contributing to those circumstances? What are you holding onto that is not serving you well? (NOTE there is no space here for blaming someone else – this is about being empowered by being accountable!)
- What steps can you take to let go and so move forward?
Have you worked out the common thread amongst the ten issues?
Each and every one of them has to do with the kinds of thoughts you have in your head. Most of them start with the thoughts you are thinking.
Change your thoughts and move on.
Congratulations. The first step on becoming unstuck and moving forwards is identifying what is holding you back.
If you need a formula for letting go – watch out for the next blog post.
In the meantime – continue reflecting and identifying what you’re holding onto that is keeping you stuck.
Holding on to anger
is like grasping a hot coal
with the intent of throwing it
at someone else;
you are the one who gets burned.