Learning To Let Go

Sep 18, 2012 No Comments by

Make this the year you get rid of all of the emotional baggage that’s holding you back. Say goodbye and move on-we’ll show you how!

You Can’t Get Over Your Ex, you wish you’d spent less time on the job and more time with the kids, you have a closet full of expensive clothes that don’t fit anymore – but you can’t bear to part with. What do these scenarios have in common? “They all weigh you down, leaving you stuck in the past”. Some of the biggest culprits that immobilize you are anger, regret, and longing – whether for a relationship that’s over or a body that you no longer have. We turned to experts for tips on getting past unproductive emotions. The process isn’t easy, but it’s surprisingly, leaving you with room in your life for something even better.

Learn to let go

Learn to let go

  • Stop holding on to anger

While it’s completely normal to get upset when someone does you wrong, it becomes unhealthy when you can’t stop stewing over it. “Mentally replaying the transgression over and over is a newer-ending cycle that intensifies your outrage and saps you of energy”. That feeling is all to familiar for Sandra Lamb, a writer in Denver. “Several years ago, a friend took credit for a huge volunteer project that I did,” lamb says. “The same questions kept running through my mind nonstop: How could she do this to me? Weren’t we friends? I’d find myself obsessing about it when I was supposed to be working or relaxing.”

What finally helped Lamb make peace with the situation was writing down everything that happened and how she felt about it, a strategy that researchers endorse. “The very act of putting words on paper forces you to take a step back, be more objective, and label your emotions”.

“Getting into the analytical mode makes the incident less personal and lets you understand the reasons behind it.” Lamb says she felt a sense of release once her pen started flying: “My inner turnmoil went away. I didn’t have this awful feeling in my stomach anymore, and I stopped dwelling.”

  •  Stop holding on to regret

Few people go through life without wondering about the path not taken or wishing they’d made a different decision at a crucial crossroad. “That’s part of being human”. “The second-guessing typically starts in your 20s over things like not pursuing a relationship or choosing the wrong major in college. And in midlife, your doubts are more likely to be past choices – that you didn’t quit an unsatisfying job years earlier or have children when you were younger.”

If you find yourself constantly asking, “What if?” that’s a sign there’s something missing from your life, and you should consider listening to those daydream, says Miler. For example, if you’re kicking yourself that you settled for a stable job instead of pursuing your love of acting, try out for a play put on by a community theatre on the weekend. “I work with a lot of people who find enormous satisfaction in finding an outlet for their passions, Miller says.”

But not all remorse can be so easily overcome. Seven years ago, Mary Lou Burkhardt, then 25, decided to move to New York City to pursue a career in public relations. At the time, she was living in Rhode Island and helping her sister take care of their mother, who was sick. So when she moved to New York, all of the care giving tasks fell on her sister. “I feel really sorry about the way I handled things back then,” she says. “It was unfair to leave my sister with such a heavy burden, and I regretted putting it all on her shoulders.”

Miller says that in situation like that, when you can’t go back in time and make everything right, you have to recognize that you did the best you could in any given moment. But don’t let yourself off the hook entirely. “It’s those little pangs of guilt that help us become a better person,” says Miller. “May be there’s some sort of action you can take now to make amends.” Burkhardt, is doing just that: She’s come up with a schedule where she uses her vacation time to go home for long weekends and help out with her mother’s care.

  • Stop holding on to feeling for your ex

When Ramona Mckenzie, 25, of Los Angeles ended her three-year relationship, she founds it almost impossible to recover. “It felt like a death,” she says. “One of the hardest things to accept is the end of a romantic relationship,” she says. The problem is that, with your ex heart and mind consumed by your ex, there’s absolutely no chances of you finding the next amazing guy.

If you’re still in love with your old boyfriend, purge him from your life. First, get rid of all the stuff you have that you reminds of him. “You’d be surprised how many women hold on to old T-shirts, pictures, and other mementos”. Make a point of avoiding your old haunts and try to replace rituals you did as a couple with new ones. If you always had coffee on Sunday at a local cafe, start up a weekly brunch date with friends at a different place.

Ask yourself whether you truly miss him or if you’re just lonely. Test it out: Write down five qualities that are important to you and see if they match what he had to offer. “The majority of the time, your ex didn’t have what you need and want”. Still not convinced? Ask your friends and family for their view. “We tend to forget the negative and focus on the positive”. “But other people in our life don’t.”

For Mckenzie, it took time, but she was finally able to get over her ex. “I missed him so much, but I got to the point where enough,” she says. She got closure by writing him a long email in which she listed the problems they had but also thanked him for all the good times. “I felt much better after I sent it,” she says. “Beyond that, spending time with friends and self-reflection helped me focus on myself and start having fun again.”

  • Stop holding on to clothes that don’t fit

You might think that a wardrobe full of clothes that are too small is motivation to lose 10 pounds – but it’s actually the opposite. “Those size 6 pants that will look perfect when you lose weights are about an imagined future where you’re a thinner version of you”. “But they lead you feel like a failure.” Keeping a set of “fat clothes” is equally demoralizing, suggesting that you may gain weight at any point.

The solution isn’t rocket science. “Go through ever piece”. “Ask yourself, ‘is this adding value to my life right now?'” Be brutal. If the answer is no, donate it. By clearing out aspirational clothes, you free up space for pieces that make your current body loom amazing.

That’s just what Regina Barr, 45, of Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota, did. “I had clothes that were too big, too small, and out-of-date,” she says. “I pruned in stages, but I now have a closet that makes me happy. It’s emptier than even before, but I feel if there’s room for new things to come my way.”

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