Sometimes letting go is hard – like breaking an old, addictive habit. There are so many obstacles to overcome and negativity to rethink. Being stuck in your past may be blocking your health, happiness, love, success and more.
Mastering the art of letting go takes courage and determination. Then, and only then, can healing occur and you get a new outlook on life. When you choose to hang on to negativity, it’s like you’re choosing to take poison every day. It’s time to take action and take the steps necessary to bring positivity back into your life.
Refusing to Let Go Is Like Poisoning Yourself Slowly
When you’re burdened by negativity in your life, it’s like a chain around your neck weighing you down and keeping you from success and happiness. Refusing to let go of the negativity can bring stress of such magnitude that it is like slowly poisoning yourself.
There are many things you can get hung up in your life. You could be disappointed in yourself or someone who has hurt you. You likely think about it every day – possibly every minute – and you’re constantly giving momentum to that negativity.
It may seem impossible to let go of those feelings, but like everything else, there are ways to let go and focus on building your energy rather than letting it slowly seep away. Fear of letting go zaps your energy and keeps you from having the inner peace you need to move forward.
Letting go is like every other bad habit that you want to rectify. In the beginning, it seems impossible, but the more you practice, the easier it will get to let go of things like toxic relationships, negative thoughts and grudges.
It may be easier if you identify one thing to let go of in the beginning. Working on one issue at a time and focusing on letting go makes it easier to go on to the next issue when you’re ready.
For example, you may be trying hard to forgive someone and still hold a grudge that’s stressing you out. Forgiveness of a wrong done to you can be one of the most difficult emotions to work through.
First, realize that forgiveness doesn’t mean you’re dismissing what was done to you. What it does mean is that you’re proposing resolution for the negative thoughts and emotions you’re having about the person.
Five Things You Should Let Go of for Stress Relief
Keeping things that bother you in the forefront of your mind can cause stress that never seems to go away. There are certain stressors that are more damaging than others and can make you feel so bad about yourself and other people in your life that you become paralyzed and unable to feel happiness.
There are five top stressors that people have the most trouble letting go of:
- Anger – Feelings of resentment, revenge and bitterness may accompany anger in your life. Unless you can work your way through the anger – whether you’re angry at a person or a situation, it can affect all areas of your life.
You can either hold on to that anger and face the many health and emotional consequences, or learn how to forgive and move on with your life.
- Grief – Loss of a loved one, either in death, divorce, estrangement or other way, can cause grief that is difficult to let go of. Grief is a normal response to a loss and there are five stages that you need to deal with.
First is denial. Then, anger, bargaining, depression and, last – acceptance. You may go through only one or two of these stages, but the important thing is ending your grief by acceptance and letting it go.
- Resentment – Resentment is similar to anger in that it can permeate every area of your life and keep you from enjoying people and experiences. Holding on to resentment zaps your happiness.
One popular quote about resentment likens it to taking poison and expecting the other person to die from it. With both anger and resentment, the cure involves acceptance, forgiveness and letting go.
- Control – Those who have a need to control others are especially vulnerable to bringing unnecessary problems into their lives. When you let go of the need to control, you’re actually gaining.
You’re gaining the ability to accept people as they really are rather than being disappointed over and over again, because they’re not conforming to your wishes or expectations.
- Past – Issues that happened in the past can haunt you until you die unless you learn how to let go of all the negativity.
It might be that you’re clinging to the past because it was a happy time for you. Because of situations you can’t control, those happy times are gone. But feeling sentimental about those old days is not going to bring them back.
At the other hand it could be that you cling to unhappiness from the past. Developing a more positive attitude and/or forgiveness may help you move on.
The urge to hang on to anger, grief, resentment, control and the past can be overpowering, but learning how to let go of these debilitating feelings can open doors to happiness you never thought possible.
Allow Yourself to Go Through Emotions
It’s difficult to let go of situations and people unless you go through an emotional process first – such as crying as much as you need to or expressing your thoughts or feelings in a way that gets it across to the other person.
Studies have shown that bottling up such emotions as anger can increase your cancer risk, and in many other ways chip away years from your life. When you release those emotions, blood flow increases to the frontal area of the brain and helps you let more positive emotions in.
Negative and suppressed emotions play an enormous part in the future of your mental and physical health and well-being. Such emotions often lead to unhealthful coping mechanisms to try and relieve some of the pressure caused by bottling up the emotions inside of you.
Turning to drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and junk food may all play a part in trying to deal with the bottled-up emotions, but it’s clear that coping with these feelings is much better for you than holding on to them.
You may be able to put up a facade for some time – both for others and yourself – and convince yourself that you don’t have a thing in the world that’s depressing you and stressing you out. Eventually, those bottled-up feelings will explode, just like a bottle of soda that’s been shaken and all of a sudden you take off the cap.
Rather than blowing up all at once and causing all types of consequences, it’s best to vent your emotions a bit at a time – much like slowly turning the cap of the soda bottle and letting some of the fizz happen a little at a time.
You may hide your true feelings in a relationship for being afraid to get hurt, or save up the anger inside of you and then explode all of a sudden. Or, you might vent your anger on someone else.
Rather than putting yourself at risk by bottling up your emotions, try healthy ways to vent such as exercise, talking to a therapist, controlling your thoughts, journaling or another of the many ways to deal with your emotions in a constructive way.
Learn That Forgiveness Doesn’t Mean They Got Away with Anything
Learning how to forgive can release you from some negativity in your life that are weighing you down and keeping you from the happiness you desire. Forgiving has different connotations for different people.
Resentment, anger and thoughts of revenge are generally involved in situations where you want to forgive someone. That makes it more difficult to navigate through your emotional turmoil.
If a person has hurt you seemingly beyond repair, that person has control over your feelings and emotions until you can forgive and let go. The hurt may take time to heal, but when you forgive, you’ll lessen the grip of control and set yourself free.
There are many ways to forgive. Looking for the positive in a person who once hurt you is one way, and journaling helps to find those good points. You may also try empathizing with the person.
Perhaps he or she has been going through trials in his or her life that caused the negativity toward you. Or, remember similar mistakes that you have made that hurt someone that you really didn’t mean to harm.
Forgiveness does not mean that you need to return into an unsustainable relationship. It does not mean everything is the same like before. It means that you can relief yourself from the anger and bad feelings against this person that has hurt you. But protecting yourself can mean you cut some ties with that person. Protecting yourself is part of the process of letting go.
The benefits of forgiving others are many. Your mental health and acuity will improve because you’re not always thinking about negatives. That can cause a positive change in relationships and any hostility and anxiety you may feel toward people.
As for your health – letting go of anger and using the power of forgiveness can affect your blood pressure, immune system and heart. Depression is less likely to get you down and your self-esteem can be heightened.
When you forgive, a wonderful thing happens when your brain pathways aren’t trapped into letting in negative thoughts and emotions. You can choose what you want to think about and you’re not always obsessed with getting even or hating the person who hurt you.
Think about it. You owe it to yourself that the person who hurt you isn’t controlling you any longer – and that’s what the power of forgiveness can bring into your life.
Not forgiving can take away your joy in life and prevent you from moving on from paralyzed and hurt feelings to a happier and much more inspired life. Today, scientists and medical experts concur that holding on to a serious resentment can be toxic to your health – both mental and physical.
Rather than looking at forgiveness as a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength – that you’re in control of your own life. Maybe you say that you are not able to forgive the other person. If you are a Christian, ask God to give you strength to do that difficult step. You surely are not going to regret.
Channel Your Distress into Something Positive
Turning your hurt feelings and distress into a positive outcome is a challenge. But when you take action, everything changes. Remember the times when you had a work task that you kept procrastinating about.
If and when you took action to complete the task you gathered momentum and were successful. If you didn’t take action, you may have suffered consequences – maybe severe, such as losing your job or needing to pick up a broken relationship.
When you’re focusing on the past and all the ways you have been hurt from others, you’re not able to see all the positive things that are going on in your life. It’s a spiraling downturn of negativity that you may never get back if you don’t take steps to break this vicious cycle. Grudges, resentment and other types of pain limit what you can do and who you can be.
You may also be tolerating problems in your life that you think you can’t control. You have accepted it as a norm, but it drains your energy because you are unsatisfied with your status quo. More often though, you are able to make some kind of positive change. It may take some courage, but looking back after the fact, you will be thanking yourself for having done the right decision.
Pursue greatness in your life rather than bend to controlling or distressful situations or people. When you’re caught in a web of feelings of revenge, toleration, grief and resentment, you may not realize the toll it’s taking. You better get over this and try to become the very best that you can be.
At the end of the day, you have a choice to make. You can decide to continue in something that is toxic to your health, your mind and your future. Or you can decide to let things go. Simply open your hands and drop this anger, hurt feelings, emotions of discontent and feelings of worthlessness of the past. Once your hands are empty, grab for something better, something that will bring you peace and happiness in your life.
I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.John 10,10 NKJV
God has some plans for your life. He wants to give you a new purpose, a new destination. He wants you to live your life to the fullest potential that you can possibly be. Are you ready to let things go?
Do you need a guide to help you understand how to cope with Stress in an all inclusive approach? Learn how to combat stress, mentally, physically, emotionally and strategically in your life.
Martin Neumann was trained for Lifestyle Interventions in 1998 at Wildwood Lifestyle Center & Hospital. Since then he has lectured in different parts of the world about a healthy lifestyle and natural remedies. He is the founder of the Abundant Health website.