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.

Letting Go In Action: Month Long News and Politics Ban

As well as introducing positive behaviors, there will invariably be existing negative behaviors which will exasperate negativity. Commit to avoiding the news and seeing, watching or talking about anything political for the next thirty days, you will be astonished at the impact this will have.

 

Instead, use the time you would have spent watching or reading the news watching inspiring TED Talks (see my Top TED Talks page) or reading personal development sites such as Accessible Psychology, Positively Positive or Tiny Buddha.

 

See the uplifting impact these sites have and notice if gradually your mood is lifting, even better, if you are perhaps beginning to see the future with a renewed sense of hope.

 

What impact do you think this exercise would have upon your life? Will you be taking a month long ban from news and politics? Will you be watching more positive media over the next month? 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 In Action: Look to the future with hope and optimism

When we have already let go and are in the process of moving on we benefit from looking to the future with hope and optimism. This is very hard in practice but it is possible. Please only follow today’s exercise if you feel you are well on your way to letting go and moving on as increasing our hope, optimism and overall positivity is only advisable when you have properly mourned your loss, otherwise it can extend the grieving process.

 

Please read my article titled ‘How to Avoid A Negative Downward Spiral by Using the Power of Positivity’ and resolve to do three of the behaviors from the article to cultivate a more optimistic view of the future.

 

Do you feel emotionally ready to do today’s exercise? If so, which three behaviors did you choose to adopt? 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 In Action: Create two meaningful S.M.A.R.T. goals

Please read my article on goals titled ‘How to Turn Your Dreams into Reality’ and create two meaningful S.M.A.R.T. goals. The goals may be as simple as ‘create scrapbook’, ‘volunteer for a charity for one month and record it in a journal’ or ‘read book on loss and follow exercises’ depending on the severity of your loss.

 

If you are feeling like you are recovering from your loss and ready to begin channeling your energies into something new you could be more ambitious like ‘create a bucket list and do one thing from the list each month’ or even ‘start a blog’ or ‘take up photography and create a portfolio of landscape photos’.

 

Whatever stage in your recovery you are, create a goal which is meaningful and healing to you. Some may be therapeutic, like creating a scrapbook and some may be aspirational, like taking up photography.

 

What S.M.A.R.T. goals did you come up with? If you already have goals did you make them S.M.A.R.T.? How healing and restorative do you think your goals are? Do you find focusing your energy in this way helpful in dealing with your loss? 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; How to Get Unstuck and Step into A Bright Future Part Four

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

 

So far in the series we have covered the first three steps to letting go and moving on, these being:

 

  1. Recognize how your actions are contributing to your pain
  2. Force yourself to socialize
  3. Take up hobbies

 

This week we look at the final two steps, specifically creating goals and imagining a happy, meaningful and fulfilling future.

 

Create goals

 

Creating goals was critical in helping me to design a happy future, after creating several goals I suddenly felt excited for what the future held again. Creating goals is literally the process of turning your dreams into reality – who on earth wouldn’t be excited by that prospect?

 

Very soon I was running my first 5k for charity, skydiving, passing my driving test and landing my first managerial job!

 

If you would like to discover how to create meaningful, realistic and achievable goals, please read my article ‘How to Turn Your Dreams into Reality’ and begin creating the wonderful future you have always dreamed about.

 

Imagine a happy, meaningful and fulfilling future

 

Once I had set goals this step became much easier but I continued to actively look for ways to develop my positivity further. I read personal development books and looked for people whose life story inspired me. I watched TED Talks of people who had overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles triumphantly. I signed up for Facebook groups which posted daily positive picture quotes. I stopped reading and watching the news which filled my mind with needless negativity. I had visualization sessions in my room with candles and chill out music, imagining how I would achieve all my goals.

 

If you would like to explore how you can foster a more positive outlook, helping you to imagine a happy, meaningful and fulfilling future, please read my article titled ‘How to Avoid A Negative Downward Spiral by Using the Power of Positivity’.

 

The world is full of infinite possibilities just waiting to be discovered by you. All you have to do is follow these steps and in so doing create a life you love, one that is filled with meaning and beauty and is the source of unimaginable joy. So don’t allow your pain to put your life on pause any longer, hit play and step into your future today!

 

Further resources:

 

‘Clearing Emotional Clutter: Mindfulness Practices for Letting Go of What’s Blocking Your Fulfillment and Transformation’ by Donald Altman

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 month’s hot topic is ‘Finding Your Inner Zen; How to Realize a Work / Life Balance’.

 

Did you enjoy this month’s series? What was your number one takeaway? What steps do you plan to put into practice? 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.

 

Letting Go In Action: Try out your top three hobbies in the next three months

Try out your top three creative hobbies that you selected yesterday and spend one month on each hobby.

 

If you try one you don’t like, just choose one of the remaining two hobbies you selected instead.

 

Are you hopeful that the creative hobbies you selected will be cathartic? What hobbies did you select? Did you think of any of your own to try that weren’t featured on the list? 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 In Action: Select three hobbies to try out

If you haven’t already read ‘How to Design A More Fulfilled Life By Being Creative in 6 Simple Steps’ and select the five hobbies you would like to try out most.

 

Having a creative hobby will promote self-expression and be cathartic, invaluable when dealing with loss.

 

Do you have any creative pursuits? Have you ever tried out hobbies in the past? Are there any creative hobbies in the article not listed that you think should be? 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 In Action: Read my article on creativity and think about which hobbies appeal to you

Take ten minutes to read my article on creativity and hobbies, titled ‘How to Design A More Fulfilled Life By Being Creative in 6 Simple Steps’, think about which hobbies appeal to you most for tomorrows exercise.

 

Having a creative hobby will promote self-expression and provide you with much needed fulfillment, a very therapeutic exercise for those suffering from loss.

 

Can you see the value in having creative hobbies? What was your main takeaway from the article? 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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