Every single one of us have things that we have a hard time letting go. We have heartbreaks, betrayal, insecurities, and fears. Sometimes we can let things roll off our back. Other times, we have a harder time letting things go, especially when you had it planned all out in your head and it didn’t go that way at all. We get resentful when our spouse isn’t helping around the house or seems blind to the clutter in the living room. We feel hurt when our friends go out and forget to invite us. We have guilt when we are asked to do something and have to refuse because we are too tired, double-booked ourselves, or we feel we’ve disappointed someone.
Emotions that we do not allow ourselves to work through can have a significant impact on our physical, mental, and emotional health. But, how do we let it go when we find out that our spouse has been cheating for years? How do you let it go when people aren’t there to help us move when we helped them move a few months ago? How can we move past the fact that we’ve loaned money to our sister and constantly see them spending without paying us back? The answers to these questions come from within. That sounds super cheesy, I know. But, it’s true! We cannot control others, so we need to control our reactions to and processing of others actions.
I’ve put together these 5 tips for you to help you think through the emotions you’re carrying around and let them go once and for all. Freeing yourself of this guilt, shame, or fear will significantly improve your well-being and create a space for personal growth and a happier life.
1. Recognize the emotions that are not serving you.
What emotions are your carrying around that are not serving you? Guilt and shame are the two that come to the forefront of my mind when I think about this. I felt guilty because I had to resign from a leadership position at my church because I took on more responsibilities at work that limits my ability to truly commit to other things in life. Holding onto guilt does not make me a better person. It doesn’t help me be a better church member. So, why hold onto it? I sit here worried that everyone is judging me and thinking I’m the worst because I don’t have the volunteer time I thought I’d have. In reality, they probably don’t really care. Also, it’s just a season in life I’m going through. It’s not like things won’t change down the line. It’s not set in stone. Thinking through it like this really helps me to recognize that I can let those feelings go. I don’t have to focus on it because it doesn’t help the situation. It doesn’t affect others and only takes up space in my heart and mind. I need that space for working towards my goals. Ain’t nobody got time for guilt!
2. Know that relationships don’t always go as expected.
When you start out any new relationship, you usually can’t help but picture how it will all turn out. You and your new friend will start to hang out all the time. You’ll text each other every morning to see what the other is up to and make plans to spend your day. Your new boyfriend is going to always send you cute memes and sweet messages. He will bring you flowers unexpectedly and everything will be just like in the movies. These examples sound a little extreme or silly when they’re all written out don’t they? But, this is really how a lot of us think! We expect these grandiose situations and then feel discontented by how it actually turns out, even if how it turns out is great. Now I think we all should dream big. Please don’t misunderstand me on that. However, when others are responsible for playing a vital role in whether or not things are great, we need to scale back our expectations of them. When you’re feeling underwhelmed by the reality vs. your expectations, consider whether or not your expectations were reasonable. Remember that we can only control ourselves, not others.
3. Recognize the things you can’t control.
This goes right along with point #2. There are a lot of things we cannot control, but we still worry about. For example: You might be worried about your boss’s reaction to you asking for a raise. You know you deserve a raise, but you’re afraid they might not think you deserve one and give you an answer you don’t like. This is a legitimate concern and something you may obsess over between the time you ask for the raise and you get an answer. But, you can’t control the thoughts, actions, or behavior of someone else. Let me say that again for the folks in the back. YOU CANNOT CONTROL SOMEONE ELSE’S THOUGHTS, ACTIONS, OR BEHAVIOR. It’s not up to you to control that. So, why worry about it? A few other examples of things we don’t have any control over: natural disasters, illness, traffic on the interstate, and the weather.
Once you’ve determined you have no control over a specific outcome or situation, it can be really freeing. It takes the pressure off of you. If you can’t control it or do anything about it, why worry? Why stress? You can just sit back and take it as it comes. Focus on being intentional with your reaction to any determined outcome and you’ll feel more prepared and able to handle whatever life throws at you.
4. Determine the cause of your emotions.
Why do you feel the way you do about a certain situation? Is it truly the situation at hand or is it a past situation that you haven’t let go of yet? Say you’ve had to carry your family financially for several years while your partner is in school. You’ve hustled and bustled to make sure there’s a roof over heads, clothes on backs, and food on the table. It’s been really hard work. But, you had a light at the end of the tunnel. They were going to make all the money and allow you to pursue your passions once they graduated and got their fancy job. Graduation came and went and you find that things aren’t going as planned. Your partner is trying to get a job, but the market is narrow and despite their best efforts, it’s not happening. Therefore, any idle moment your partner has, you are attacking them either verbally or internally. Why aren’t you finding a job right now? When do I get my chance to pursue my passions? I’m tired of carrying the financial load. These are all valid and understandable feelings. But, if you’re attacking your partner because they sat down to eat some breakfast instead of calling every possible place of employment begging for an interview, your relationship is going to suffer. No one wants to live on edge like that.
It can be SO HARD to let a situation like that go. However, just like you may need space and grace in many areas of life, you need to recognize that your partner will too. Attacking them internally or externally is not going to help either of you or the situation. So, you need to carefully choose your reactions when they are less than favorable. When they ask you to pass the syrup during breakfast, and you want to scream in their face for needing the syrup, it’s time to take a moment and say to yourself “Woah, where is that really coming from?” My guess is that you aren’t actually mad about the syrup. Realize why you’re feeling that frustration and it will make it easier for you to calmly react. It will also help you to know what you’re harboring and allow you to have a level headed discussion about it at an appropriate time.
5. Gain some perspective.
Is your situation as bad as you feel it is? What are you grateful for in your current situation? What is going right? Perhaps you have always made ends meet. You always provide, no matter what and always figure it out. Perhaps the love within your family is strong and unwavering. Perhaps you are all living in relatively good health. Wherever the good is, find it and focus on it. Simply thinking of items you are grateful for can help tame the blind rage. It can give you a different perspective and help you to see things on a more grounded level. I know when I’m feeling the overwhelm of being the partner that is also naturally the family manager, not to mention my general anxiety, I can easily end up in a place when I snap at my husband over very silly little things. When this happens I take a moment to name in my head 5 things I appreciate about him: He is so loving; he’s my biggest fan and #1 supporter; he never holds a grudge, even when I haven’t been the best version of myself in an argument; he is an amazing father and role model for our son. Those items took me all of 20 seconds to come up with. Realizing how great he is in other areas helps me to remember that leaving some toothpaste on the sink isn’t as big of a deal as I’m making it out to be.
I hope this post helps you to find a place of calm and not stress so much over the little things. I hope you can let go of emotions that don’t serve you, or anyone else: anger, resentment, guilt, shame, envy. Know that this is a continual process that will need ongoing work. These emotions will always rise to the surface at one point or another, but the sooner you are able to release them, the better you will feel. This post is just something to get you started. There are so many moving parts when it comes to letting things go depending how deep it runs and what you’re holding onto. My intention is to help you on your journey to rise above it and leave it behind. Start working through these items today. You don’t need that crap clouding up your future.
Much love and productive vibes,
Momma Caped Nerd ❤
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