You feel it in your chest every day — it’s clawing, scratching, begging to be let out. You fight and try to keep it quiet, but deep down you know it’s only a matter of time before it bursts out of you like a volcanic eruption.
No, this isn’t about flesh-eating aliens (though it might as well be). It’s about anger, hatred, sorrow — all those painful emotions you’ve kept inside all this time. Goodness knows you’ve tried to deal with them the best you can, but because of the human tendency to focus on the negative, you just can’t let them go.
Now, you feel like giving up. You feel like resigning yourself to brooding over your past for the rest of your life, regardless of the consequences.
It’s not too late, however. You don’t have to carry that burden forever. If you’re wondering when and how to let go, here’s what you need to know to get through it — or, at the very least, to make things more bearable.
Decide to Let It Go ASAP
If there’s one thing you don’t want to procrastinate, it’s letting go. The longer you put it off, the deeper your negative feelings will extend and fester, and the more difficult it’ll be to manage them over time. There’s no better day to move forward than today, so make your choice as soon as you can.
Express Your Feelings (in a Healthy Way)
It’s scary to realize you’re capable of being angry, hateful and depressed. After all, society taught you to think of those emotions as “bad.” If you feel bad things, you’re a bad person, and, therefore, you should keep those things under wraps as much as possible. Right?
Actually, refusing to acknowledge your feelings does more harm than good. When you suppress anger, for example, it can lead to a variety of health problems, such as anxiety and depression, fractured relationships and more. Since your feelings didn’t have a way out, they had no choice but to stew and burn inside you instead.
Of course, that’s not to say you should do the first thing that comes to mind as soon as you feel something. Take a second to step back, and think: “Given that these feelings came so suddenly, should I act so suddenly too? Or is there a better way to handle this situation?”
Leave the Victim Mentality Behind
Often, the reason you can’t let go is because you’re in Blaming Mode. For example, you may blame your parents for you being a less-than-well-adjusted person today. However, to quote J.K. Rowling’s speech for the Harvard Class of 2008:
“There is an expiry date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction. The moment you are old enough to take the wheel, responsibility lies with you.”
It’s time to give the “If Onlys” a rest. Try to forgive the people who’ve hurt you. You can’t do anything about them as far as how they act, but you can do something about you.
Focus on Today
Speaking of things you can and can’t do, you can’t change the past or predict the future. What’s done is done, and what will be will be. The only thing you can do now is, well, do something now.
Pick up an old hobby you dropped. Watch a movie. Laugh at yet another video of a cat doing funny things. The moment your brain starts to wander back to the past, tell it to “STOP” and bring it back to the present. Living in the moment is about being aware that everything you do now will have an impact later (for better or worse).
Even after following these tips, letting go won’t necessarily be pain-free. In fact, confronting your demons will probably be the most harrowing experience you’ll have so far. If you can survive that confrontation with yourself, though, you can survive anything.
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