6 WAYS TO LET GO AND FEEL A LOT LESS STRESS
This morning, I received a long email from a reader named Evan who is struggling with letting go of a failed relationship. In his email he explains, in rather vivid detail, the signs and symptoms of a toxic relationship that has been heading south for many years. He admits that he needs to let go, but he struggles with it, because doing so means he must finally face reality, which requires him to let go of the idea in his head about how his life and relationship were supposed to be.
One particular line from his email really summed it up well: “I’m learning the hard way that the hardest thing in life is simply letting go of what you thought was real.”
Isn’t that the truth – for all of us, in all walks of life? We all have an idea in our heads about how things are, or how they’re supposed to be, and sadly this is what often messes us up and stresses us out the most. Realize this. Sometimes life doesn’t give you what you WANT because you NEED something else. And what you need often comes when you’re not looking for it. You won’t always understand it and that’s OK. Just when you think it can’t get any worse, it does. And then just when you think it can’t get any better, it does.
The key is detachment – letting go of the life you expected, so you can make the best of the life that’s waiting for you. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it. Here are six strategies for making this happen:
1. Create some healthy space for yourself. – Sometimes you are just too close to the puzzle to see the big picture. You need to take a few steps back to gain clarity on the situation. The best way to do this is to simply take a short break – a breather – a vacation – and explore something else for a little while. Why? So you can return to where you started and see things with a new set of eyes. And the people there may see you differently too. Returning where you started is entirely different than never leaving.
2. Accept the truth and practice being grateful for what is. – To let go is to be grateful for the experiences that made you laugh, made you cry, and helped you learn and grow. It’s the acceptance of everything you have, everything you once had, and the possibilities that lie ahead. It’s all about finding the strength to embrace life’s challenges and changes, to trust your intuition, to learn as you go, to realize that every experience has value, and to continue taking positive steps forward.
3. Forgive with all your heart, as often as necessary. – Forgiveness is a constant attitude of choosing happiness over hurt – acceptance over resistance. It’s about acknowledging that we’re all mistaken sometimes; sometimes even the best of us do foolish things – things that have severe consequences. But it doesn’t mean we are evil and unforgiveable, or that we can’t be trusted ever afterward. Know this. Sit with it. It might take time to forgive, because it takes strength to forgive. Because when you forgive, you love with all your might. And when you love like this, a heavenly, healing light shines upon you. This forgiveness – true forgiveness – brings you to a place where you can sincerely say, “Thank you for that experience,” and mean it with all your heart.
4. Concentrate only on what can be changed. – Realize that not everything in life is meant to be modified or perfectly understood. Live, let go, learn what you can and don’t waste energy worrying about the things you can’t change. Focus exclusively on what you can change. And if you can’t change something that’s upsetting you, change the way you think about it. Review your options and then re-frame what you don’t like into a starting point for achieving something different in your life.
5. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life. – Now is the moment. The past is just a memory. The future is a mental projection. You can choose to dwell back in the past for learning and joyous reflection. You can choose to dwell in the future for visualization and practical planning. However, any time your awareness floats away to the past or future frequently for negative purposes, you are suffocating your ability to thrive in the only moment you ever have… the NOW. Past and future literally do not exist right now – feel the freedom in this truth.
6. Embrace your quirks, your mistakes, and the fact that life is a lesson. – Life is a ride. Things change, people change, but you will always be YOU; so stay true to yourself and never sacrifice who you are for anyone or anything. You have to dare to be yourself, in this moment, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be. It’s about realizing that even on your weakest days you get a little bit stronger, if you’re willing to learn. Which is why, sometimes the greatest thing to come out of all your trouble and hard work isn’t what you get, but what you become.
And of course, if you’re struggling with any of these points, know that you are not alone. We are all in this together. Many of us are right there with you, working hard to feel better, think more clearly, and keep our lives on track.