Letting Go

The Bumpy Road of Letting Go and Moving On and the Difference Between a Blip, Setback and a Relapse

Make no mistake the road toward recovery following loss is a very bumpy one. Just when you think you are making progress you are reminded you still have a long way to go. But trust me, eventually you will look back and realize there are more good days than bad and that you are indeed healing. Depending on your loss the future may look different to how you imagined it to be but from my experience this doesn’t have to necessarily be as awful as it may at first seem, just different. Life can still be meaningful and fulfilling following your recovery.

 

One of the things I learnt in treatment was how to recognize a blip, setback and relapse. The reason it is so important to know the difference between these phenomena is because, once we are beginning to let go and move on, so often we confuse a blip or setback from a complete relapse, thinking we are back at step one unnecessarily and causing us to lose the strength to keep going.

 

Blips

 

These are bad days, perhaps even a bad week. When we have these days, the pain and sorrow from our loss is magnified and worse than we have grown accustomed to.

 

These days are awful but only last up to a week in length maximum, after which we feel as we did before the blip took place. When we experience these days we tend to think they will last longer than they do.

 

Setbacks

 

These are usually between two to three weeks in duration. We again feel all the pain and sorrow from our loss as if it were yesterday and we had not begun on the road to recovery at all.

 

We might begin to think we are back at square one with our ability to cope with our loss and we could be at high risk of thinking we are relapsing into despair, with no hope of recovery in future.

 

You have however made progress even though it doesn’t seem like it during a setback. Use this time to lean on friends and family to feel understood and supported.

 

Once your pain has subsided to a more manageable level (and only then) and you feel almost as you did before the setback, continue to do the positive steps of avoiding behaviors that are contributing to your pain, socializing and engaging with hobbies, even if only for a couple of hours over the weekend.

 

Relapses

 

This typically lasts for one month or more and can be due to triggers such as birthdays or anniversaries or even special occasions or times of year like Christmas.

 

A word of warning though, it sometimes be due to trying to let go and move on before you have properly mourned.

 

This is when you need to question whether you tried to let go and move on before having fully mourned. If you think this is a possibility, seek comfort in close friends and family until your pain is more manageable. Even if you are having a relapse you can and will go on to lead a meaningful and fulfilling life in future, just trust in the recovery process and be patient with yourself.

 

When you feel you have mourned, gently and at your own pace, begin to follow the steps as outlined in this month’s Monday series posts. You will get to a better place however it will take time and you need to be as self-compassionate and patient with the process as you can possibly be.

 

Even though this is one of the most difficult things you can do, hang in there. It will be worth it, I promise.

 

Have you ever made the distinction between blips, setbacks and relapses? Can you share your own wisdom on how to deal with them when they occur? How did you handle setbacks in the past? Please share your thoughts in the comments below to gain encouragement, insight and support from our community, we’d love to hear from you.

Why letting go and moving on doesn’t mean you don’t care

Often when we are going through the pain of loss, we associate letting go and moving on with not caring as much, thinking instead that remaining in pain honors that which we have lost. Though it is understandable why we might think this, in reality those that have let go and moved on still retain the happy memories of that which they have lost, they have simply decided to let go of their pain and move forward positively.

 

If you also believe that letting go and moving on means you don’t care as much consider what advantages there are to the pain you are experiencing – I personally battled to find any real value in mine.

 

Indeed when we suffer from loss there are many opportunities for growth, including self-compassion, compassion for others, forgiveness, empathy, gained wisdom – even fostering greater emotional strength and resilience. I for one would never trade the struggles I have faced for anything, as they have allowed me to grow in a way that otherwise would not have been possible.

 

Do you believe letting go and moving on means you don’t care as much? Can you find any real value in your pain? If you have overcome this belief how did you do so? Please share your thoughts in the comments below to gain encouragement, insight and support from our community, we’d love to hear from you.

How to forgive yourself if you feel responsible

Forgiveness is truly healing, for both those that forgive and those that are forgiven. But what happens when we are dealing with loss and forgiveness is not offered or is impossible because those who could forgive have passed away?

 

When I asked for forgiveness it was not forthcoming. I struggled for ages with the notion that I would not receive the forgiveness I desperately wanted. Needed even. Whilst I was seeking forgiveness I was paralyzed, unable to let go and move on as I thought that was the only way I could be free. In time I realized that the reason I was so desperate for forgiveness was because I hadn’t yet forgiven myself.

 

Once I knew I had done everything I could to apologize and seek forgiveness, I realized that the only solution in order to really be able to let go and move on, was to forgive myself. Once I did, a great deal of healing took place. I felt more whole again, I felt freer. That was the beginning of my journey towards letting go and moving on.

 

If you are struggling to forgive yourself, every time you feel guilt or shame about how you behaved repeat this mantra in your head:

 

‘I did the best I knew how to at the time, given my life experience’

 

This in no way excuses your behavior but it will help you see things in context, with more self compassion. If you struggle with being self compassionate, please read my article titled ‘How to Silence Your Inner-Critic and Become Your Own Best Friend’ which is jammed packed with expert advice from leaders in the field, on how to be more self-compassionate.

 

The truth is we all make mistakes, sometimes with awful consequences. We need to offer ourselves self compassion and forgiveness first, before we can extend compassion and forgiveness to others.

 

Remember, if you are holding onto resentment, you are failing to let go and move on as well. If you are holding onto anger and resentment over a past hurt, please read my article titled ‘How to Liberate Yourself By Overcoming the Three Blocks to Forgiveness’.

 

In truth, both receiving and giving forgiveness is essential to have healthy hearts which are free from the diseased emotions of resentment and shame.

 

Do you need to forgive yourself? Are you holding on to resentment and anger? Can you see the advantages of offering forgiveness? Please share your thoughts in the comments below to gain encouragement, insight and support from our community, we’d love to hear from you.

 

Positive signs you are letting go

It would have saved me a lot of uncertainty had I known the positive signs to look out for that I was beginning to move on.

 

If you are unsure if you are making progress in letting go and moving on, please see below for the signs you are on the right track…

 

  • Ruminating less
  • Crying less
  • Having more energy
  • Daily tasks are less difficult
  • Your concentration levels improve
  • Things that had lost their enjoyment following the loss, you begin to enjoy again
  • You go out to see friends and talk about your loss less or sometimes not at all
  • You go out to see friends and think about your loss less or sometimes not at all
  • Your passion for your hobbies returns
  • Your motivation and drive increases

 

I hope you find this list encouraging as you continue on your journey to let go and move on. And for those of you who are not there yet, I hope this list serves as compass, showing you what to look out for in your path to recovery.

 

Have you noticed these signs of recovery in yourself and if so are you encouraged by this? Are there any signs of recovery in letting go and moving on that I have missed out? Please share your thoughts in the comments below to gain encouragement, insight and support from our community, we’d love to hear from you.

 

Why there is always hope of a fulfilling and meaningful future

In my darkest hour it was unimaginable to me that things could get better. Things seemed irrecoverably broken. I realize now that there is always hope for a fulfilling and meaningful future, no matter how much you might be suffering in the present. Things may look different to how you envisaged them but that doesn’t mean life can’t ever be meaningful again.

 

If you are struggling to imagine your future in light of your loss, try to start small. Imagine being close to those you love who are still with you. Imagine supporting the charities closest to your heart and the rewarding feeling that will give you.

 

Once I had recovered from my breakdown (I now call it a breakthrough) in 2009, I found a way to turn the situation around by helping others going through similar difficulties by starting this blog.

 

For you it may be as simple as volunteering for a local charity which resonates with your loss. Whatever action you decide upon, bringing good out of an otherwise awful situation has an extremely healing effect.

 

Never give up hope, there is a better future awaiting you, I promise.

 

Once you believe that life will get better, I would encourage you to read my article on positivity titled ‘How to avoid a negative downwards spiral by using the power of positivity’ which examines the ways we can cultivate a more positive outlook.

 

Can you imagine a meaningful future yet? Did you think of any ways you use your loss and channel it into something positive, like charity work? Please share your thoughts in the comments below to gain encouragement, insight and support from our community, we’d love to hear from you.

The dilemma between letting go and holding on (and when is the right time to let go)

It is one of the toughest things imaginable to let go and move on when everything within you wants to hold on. When the situation is beyond our control and we have no choice but to accept our loss, it is incredibly painful. We might feel it is unjust and we will likely face despair. We might even get angry. Understanding that this is natural is so important. Still others may suffer from shock and numbness. This too is understandable.

 

Although this series is ‘letting go and moving on’ I would in no way recommend trying to move on instantly. The mourning process takes time and everyone is different, there is no one size fits all when it comes to how long is healthy to effectively mourn.

 

The five stages of grief are listed below. Although they do have an order, in reality we flit between one and another and our moving through these stages is not by any means a straightforward process but rather more like a general trend. Indeed, not everyone will go through all five stages or even in the order as set out below.

 

  1. Denial and isolation
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

 

For example, I went through these stages with anger featuring last.

 

So when do you decide to finally let go? When depression has got its hold on you and you feel you are perpetually stuck, with little confidence in getting out, you need to let go.

 

Your loss may have had a relatively minor impact upon you, which is simply making you sad and lethargic. If this is the case, try to let go when you feel your life is suffering due to your mood, but be mindful that you are not in denial or that you haven’t fully mourned the loss yet.

 

Do you believe you have properly mourned your loss? Have you tried to let go prematurely in the past? What impact did that have? Please share your thoughts in the comments below to gain encouragement, insight and support from our community, we’d love to hear from you.

Why turning to friends and family is vital when hurting

When we are hurting one of the most natural things is to turn inward and avoid social contact. It is in these moments that we may feel like we are a burden to those around us or that others would simply not understand. When we do this we isolate ourselves, further adding to our pain and causing the situation to get worse.

 

By turning towards friends and family we allow others to offer the emotional support we so desperately need, allowing us to feel understood by those we love. Seeking emotional support in this way, far from being weak, is in fact a very courageous and strong act. Indeed, those who are most resilient in life know when to seek such support, hence why they are more resilient.

 

When you are seeking those to confide in about your loss or hurt ensure you confide in those close to you who are empathetic rather than from the school of tough love. Whilst both types of people may mean well, when you are holding on following a loss, you need patient and compassionate characters who will understand your struggle in letting go and moving on.

 

Do you socially isolate yourself when you are hurting? Can you think of three people close to you who would be compassionate and patient with your journey? Please share your thoughts in the comments below to gain encouragement, insight and support from our community, we’d love to hear from you.

 

 

 

 

Why accepting the pain of holding on is the first step to recovery

When I resisted the pain I was experiencing, I accentuated it. When we practice mindfulness and both acknowledge and accept pain, it’s power against us diminishes. We are no longer trying to fight against the current and go upstream.

 

This is not the same as resigning yourself to the pain, but rather accepting its presence non-judgmentally, choosing to say ‘Ok, I am going through a difficult time right now and it is understandably painful. I will be upset whilst I am going through this but I will nurture myself and take positive steps which are going to let me move past this in time’.

 

HINT: Monday’s posts are jam packed with positive steps you can begin taking today!

 

Once you have accepted that pain will accompany your loss, and that this is to be expected, its power over you will diminish. Any generalized thoughts like ‘this will never end’ will cease and you will feel less trapped and hopeless.

 

Have you felt as though your pain would never cease whilst trying to let go and move on before? Have you ever tried to fight against your pain? What effect did this have? Please share your thoughts in the comments below to gain encouragement, insight and support from our community, we’d love to hear from you.

Letting go and moving on: Why self-care doesn’t equal selfish

When we are in the process of mourning a loss and working upon letting go and moving on, it’s essential we practice self-care. Many think of self-care as selfish however when we are low we need to look after ourselves before we are able to look after anyone else. When I was a stewardess I was taught in training that in the event of a plane crash, passengers with children needed to put their oxygen mask on first, as otherwise they would pass out before being able to put on their children’s mask.

 

It is exactly the same principal when we are suffering from loss. We first need to ensure we are emotionally stable before tending to others needs. Of course daily responsibilities should be seen to, like taking your children to school or feeding your pets, but the wider responsibilities of daily life – such as giving friends lifts or helping a friend revise their resume – need to wait. After all, if you are unable to meet your own emotional needs, how can you to help anyone else effectively?

 

A good analogy is to think of yourself as a bucket. When you are emotionally drained your bucket is empty and so you are unable to fill up others buckets because all of your resources are depleted. First fill up your own bucket and then you will be in a position to help others.

 

When your emotional bucket is empty you need to nurture yourself. Treat and pamper yourself.

Talk with friends and family for emotional support.

 

Finally, work through the five steps below (as discussed in all Monday posts this month) to set foot on the path to recovery:

 

  1. Accept the situation you are in and see it for what it is
  2. Socialize again
  3. Take up hobbies
  4. Create goals
  5. Imagine a happy, meaningful and fulfilling future

 

Have you ever viewed self-care as being selfish? When you are low do you practice self-care? What do you do to treat and pamper yourself? Please share your thoughts in the comments below to gain encouragement, insight and support from our community, we’d love to hear from you.

 

Imagining a future when letting go and moving on

 

This is one of the hardest parts of letting go and moving on because it seems like everything you love will cease to be once you truly let go and move on. I promise you this is not the case. You can still honor your memories and let go of the pain associated with them. Try this exercise to begin imagining a meaningful future, one that is filled with happiness and fulfillment.

 

Step One

 

Ask yourself what the person (or thing you are trying to let go of – insert as necessary) offered you that was so special.

 

For example, in my case it was romantic love.

 

Step Two

 

Brainstorm who or what could offer you something comparatively special – this is difficult but really try your best to come up with three things that you could seek out and nurture.

 

In my case this was the unconditional love of my parents, the companionship of my friends and a possible boyfriend.

 

Step Three

 

Make a plan to introduce things or foster deeper connections with those that can offer you something comparatively special.

 

My plan was to spend more quality time with family and friends. Once I went through the other steps I’ll mention in Monday’s posts, having successfully let go and moved on, I also joined eHarmony where I met the love of my life!

 

Did today’s exercise help you feel empowered to create a meaningful future? How do you think channeling your efforts into other more nurturing things and relationships will help? Please share your thoughts in the comments below to gain encouragement, insight and support from our community, we’d love to hear from you.

 

 

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