Practical steps to letting go

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Making a decision to moving on is a great way to heal the traumas of the past

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We all go through rough patches in life. There are things that have hurt us in the past that rear their ugly heads from time to time, making us feel sad, resentful and regretful.  We start feeling blue and give off negative vibes that also have an adverse effect on people around us. So what can we do to feel happy and cheerful again? Well, to start with, we must take charge. Feelings of sadness hound us only as long as we let them. The moment we decide that we don’t want to feel this way anymore, the mind goes into remedial mode. It starts putting forward ideas that help make us feel better. Pessimism begins to evaporate, allowing the light of positive thinking to shine through.

 

Accept the past

Remembering past mistakes, traumatic incidents and people that have caused us anguish contribute to our collection of sad memories, as does the loss of someone dear through death or the break-up of a relationship. In trying to heal, the first step is to accept the past for what it is – history! We can’t undo the past; we can’t go back in time and fix anything. Start by telling yourself that there is nothing you can do now about the mistakes that were made or the hurt that was caused. Some things are just meant to be, and the storms you’ve weathered were predestined; they could not have been avoided no matter what.

Our lives are shaped by incidents, both good and bad. Sometimes what seems to be a horrible experience turns out to be a blessing in disguise. In the end if you reflect honestly, it was all for the best. So stop feeling bad, it won’t change anything. Stop feeling sorry for yourself because when you’re done moping, crying and blaming others for your unhappiness, you will find that nothing has changed, you have not helped yourself feel better. Instead you’ve wasted precious time when you could have been constructive, productive and happy.

 

Bag it and bin it

Make a conscious effort to let go. Get rid of the things that remind you of the painful times in your life. Gifts from an ex, belongings of someone who is not with you anymore, photos, letters and emails are a constant reminder, and hence a cause of unnecessary distress. Just let go, bag and bin the hurtful memorabilia. There is no need to cling to it. Today is a new day and you’ve decided to move on. Once you get rid of all traces of the stressful period, you’ll never be able to look at things and be reminded of the pain associated with them. This will help you heal much faster.

 

Count your blessings

Look around you, is life really that bad? If you take a moment to reflect, you will find so many things to be grateful for in your life right now. Make a list of things you count as blessings, your family, friends, your job, health, that potted plant on the window, your zany old neighbour….with so many things eager to put a smile on your dial, is it worth moping away precious moments in sadness?

 

Join a social group

Having a support network of friends around you is great for keeping the blues at bay. So go out there and socialise. Join a group, a book club, a knitting society or whatever interests you. This way when gloom comes knocking, all you have to do is pick up the phone or drop in on a mate. Talking to friends or family members can cheer you up immensely. It takes your mind off yourself and immerses you into a different mood. Soon enough the focus is something or someone else and you feel better.

 

Exercise

A brisk trek around the block or in the park is highly recommended for overcoming feelings of sadness. Fresh air clears the mind and promotes feelings of wellbeing. Joining a gym is a very effective way of beating the blues, as exercise releases endorphins in the brain which are mood-lifting chemicals.

 

Meditate

Meditation is a proven practise for self-healing. Achieving a meditative state calms the mind and helps the body to relax. Get into the habit of meditating regularly and/or explore religion. It really helps as you feel reassured of forgiveness, and are more open to forgiving yourself. You learn to let go of hurt. It puts hope back in the heart that has lost it. Try it, it works!

 

Take it in your stride

Alexander Dumas wrote in The Count of Monte Cristo, ‘There is neither happiness nor misery in this world. There is only a comparison of one state with the other.  He who has experienced the greatest misery can feel the greatest happiness.’ And we emerge stronger from each trial we go through. So when you remember the past and all the hurt it caused you, be thankful that it’s over and you are better now, ready and able to experience happiness. Consider life to be a rollercoaster ride. There will be ups and downs, but know that neither state is permanent. If you’re experiencing lows now, know that the highs are not far, most of the time they are just around the bend. Lift your chin up and soldier on.

 

Be your own best friend

Even when the whole world seems against you, be your own best friend. Listen to your thoughts and find the good in you. Convince yourself of your worth, take care of your appearance and walk tall. You deserve to be happy, so give yourself the best chance.

 

Take charge of your moods. Don’t dwell in the past and use it as an excuse to sink into sadness and anger, as it affects the people around you. Your kids, husband, partner, siblings – whoever shares your living space feels the full impact of your mood. Take responsibility and don’t be a cause of unease to them. Lift yourself out of darkness if only for the sake of other people in your life, and you’ll find that your consideration and thoughtfulness will pay off in making you the biggest recipient of your own act of charity.

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is a freelance writer, artist and children's author