Last week we explored the notion that sometimes our pain can be familiar and comforting. This week we look at the first two steps to let go and move on so that your future is full of possibility.
Accepting the situation you are in and seeing it for what it is
When I was struggling to move on I wallowed in what might have been. After several failed attempts at reconciliation I felt more miserable and, rather than accepting it was over, chose to ruminate over memories. I knew my behavior was destructive but at the same time I wanted to hold onto those happy memories, somehow I felt that moving on equated to giving up and losing hope.
When I did begin to move on I did so by telling myself that, no matter what I believed, it wasn’t meant to be. I had to accept that I was mistaken. This was the one truth I had desperately tried to avoid and, as they say in psychology, what you resist, persists.
For you it might be that rather than accepting it wasn’t meant to be you need to accept that it shouldn’t be and see the situation as it really is. This can also be extremely hard, especially when we need to acknowledge when someone we love is treating us without respect, care or consideration.
I think the reason this is often so hard is that by admitting they are treating us badly, we not only have to see them as human (and take them down from any potential pedestals we put them on) but we also have to admit we were wrong about them, which brings a unique kind of pain in its own right.
Some may have experienced losing someone completely. This is probably one of the most painful experiences any of us can go through because it is so permanent, so absolute. If this is you, focus upon those close to you who are still in your life and get as much support from friends and family as you can. Chose to focus on the happy memories and be with your support network as much as possible, at least at first. In this case you need to accept the situation, again, a very painful thing to do (but very healing too).
Once I forced myself to acknowledge that it just wasn’t meant to be (add in; that it shouldn’t be or accept the situation – as needed) I allowed myself to mourn. It’s important to mention that amidst my mourning was anger, anger at the situation, anger at the person and anger at myself. This anger was necessary and part of the process of letting go and moving on. When I had mourned and fully accepted that it wasn’t meant to be – actually reaching a point where I agreed it wasn’t meant to be – I found peace.
Then something wonderful happened. Rather than losing hope, I gained hope, hope for a happy future, hope for meeting someone new and all the excitement that involves and hope that – in the end – everything would work out.
And because I had the courage to hope again, that very decision to step into my future with an open heart (and all the actions that followed like joining eHarmony) meant my future was infinitely better than merely working out, it was more amazing than anything else I could have wished for!
Force yourself to socialize
During this process the last thing I wanted to do was socialize but I forced myself to out regardless. I went on weekend trips and out to nice cafes during the day and restaurants in the evening. I widened my social network, strengthened existing friendships and invested in quality time with family. In short I built up a strong support system which helped me to feel valued and supported no matter what happened along the way.
Note: I am not suggesting your means of feeling valued is derived from your social network in terms of your self-esteem – true self-esteem is based solely on realizing the value of your character and your inner worth independent from anyone else.
When I refer to feeling valued by friends I do not mean it as being the primary reason you feel valuable, but rather having it be a source of happiness because those you care about, care for you deeply too.
To explore how to cultivate deep friendships please read my article titled ‘Why Building Strong Friendships is Important for Our Health’.
To examine how to strengthen family bonds please read my article titled ‘The Ten Key Behaviors That Will Ensure Strong Family Bonds Over the Holidays’ which is relevant throughout the year.
As a result of going out more I made new friends and placed myself amongst people that were happy and fun to be around. Generally speaking, if you want to have fun surround yourself with fun people, likewise, if you want to be happy surround yourself with happy people. This may sound simple but it is very effective.
Obviously deep friendships transcend this strategy as emotional support throughout life’s trials is a cornerstone of any longstanding friendship, but if you are looking to lift your spirits being around fun and happy people might just be the answer and if your longstanding and close friendships provide you with that too, even better.
For example, when I hit thirty I felt down I wasn’t in a relationship because I wanted to have children. Quite by accident I met a group of people in their late thirties who didn’t have kids. To my surprise not only were they happy but they loved their lifestyle! This showed me that I needn’t be devastated if I never had kids. Although I still wanted them I realized I could still be happy if it worked out that I didn’t.
So if you are down about the conditions of your life seek out people that have those same life conditions but are happy. You could do this by joining special interest clubs where you know the general demographic or even going to meet up groups for your age group, stage in life etc. Even if you are content with your life conditions per se, joining meet up groups is an ideal way of expanding your social network and socializing more often.
This book uses a mindfulness based approach to letting go and moving on.
‘The Secret to Letting Go and Moving On’ by Joff Day (Kindle version)
This book uses a psychological based approach to letting go and moving on.
‘When the past won’t let you go: find the healing that lets you move on’ by H Norman Wright
This book uses a spiritual approach to letting go and moving on.
Stay tuned – next week we examine step three!
Do you think you have any self defeating behaviors which contribute towards your pain? How do you think you might change these behaviors? Do you think socializing more would help you feel more supported? Please share your thoughts in the comments below to gain encouragement, insight and support from our community, we’d love to hear from you.