I have enormous respect for people who have been blindsided by a personal misfortune and can recover from it. It takes great strength to confront the world, hand on heart, and say, "I've done all I could do. The rest is out of my hands; now, I'll wait for things to happen."
But what if you’re the one who caused the misfortune? How do you learn to forgive yourself and move on?
Anything can happen in life. One day, you’re on top, and the next, you get kicked down the cliff and find yourself at the bottom of a dark hole.
Resilience is the secret ingredient behind every successful person. It is the ability to withstand setbacks, heartache, hardships, and the capacity to pick yourself up and start again after a fall.
I’m certainly not an expert on the subject, but I have had my share of falls, and each time I’ve gotten back up, I’ve learned a little bit more about how to let go of the past and move on. You have to wallow in bad situations rather than escape from them. It’s only by feeling the full force of the hurt that you can begin to heal.
Think about this. What do you do when you’re in a bad situation? Do you isolate yourself, let your fears take over, and sit waiting for the worst? Or do you try to make the best out of it?
Many people are taught not to accept their circumstances. Even if they can’t change these circumstances, they can figure out how to live with them.
A lot of people walk around with considerable weight on their minds. It’s their problem. Problems at home. Problems at work. Problems with appearance, fitness, you name it.
So, how do we build resilience? How can we improve our ability to cope with failure you may experience in your personal and professional life?
Here are seven lessons about letting go of the past and moving on:
1. Life Is Full Of Rotten Eggs
You know, the kind that gets you when you least expect it? The ones that make you want to yell at the world, throw things and then go on a long walk alone with your thoughts.
No matter how different we are, we have certain things in common. We all know what it means to be caught in cold and rainy weather or stuck in traffic. We doubt our decisions and wonder whether we did the right thing. Many of us experience similar emotions due to different situations. But the question is, what do you do when those emotions overwhelm you?
Well, it’s easy enough to ignore them or try to push them aside. But sometimes, we need to listen to what our emotions are trying to tell us—even if it’s uncomfortable. If we don’t pay attention to those feelings, they’ll only get louder until we can’t ignore them anymore. And by then, it might be too late.
It is in those who acknowledge your emotions and deal with them constructively that resilience is built. You can either wallow in self-pity or use the experience to become stronger.
When something terrible happens, it’s natural to feel sad, angry, scared, or alone. These valid emotions need to be acknowledged and dealt with healthily.
2. Find A Shoulder To Cry On
It used to be that if you suffered a blow to your ego, you could console yourself with the idea that no one else knew about it. But now there is Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and really, any other app that can be used to bring you shame at any moment. It doesn’t matter how thick your skin is. A single glance at the comments section of your latest Instagram post will reveal all sorts of opinions about how you look and what you did wrong.
But let’s be honest: sometimes we need to cry on someone’s shoulder. Sometimes we need to vent our problems and feel understood, even if we don’t want to tell anyone else about them.
If you’re feeling low, it’s okay to seek out someone who will listen to you and offer support. Just make sure that you’re not taking advantage of their good nature. If you find yourself dumping all your problems on one person, spread the load. Don’t forget, everyone has their stuff going on too.
3. Wrestle The Bear
Healthily vent your anger.
We all get angry. It’s a normal human emotion. But what we do with that anger is what matters. Going on a rampage as though you are the Hulk will not solve anything (and will likely get you arrested).
Some people bottle it up until they explode. Others take it out on those closest to them. And then some try to suppress their anger, which can lead to health problems.
So here’s a better way to deal with your anger: Wrestle a bear!
Joke aside, you need to find a healthy outlet for your anger. Maybe it’s running, hitting a punching bag, or writing in a journal. Whatever it is, make sure that it’s something that won’t hurt yourself or anyone else, and please do not venture out into the wilderness to look for a real bear to wrestle with.
An interesting study was done on the link between emotions and their effect on the mind. It found that people with more difficulty identifying and dealing with their emotions were more likely to become depressed. It went on to showcase that demonstrating empathy and being able to connect with others on an emotional level was an excellent way to avoid depression.
4. Give Yourself A Break
You’re not perfect. We all make mistakes. It’s all part of being human.
So cut yourself some slack. If you’re beating yourself up over something you did, try to see it from a different perspective. Would you be as hard on someone else if they made the same mistake? Probably not. So why are you being so tough on yourself?
Instead of beating yourself up and telling yourself that your actions were somehow wrong, try asking yourself: “What can I learn from this?” What would you tell someone else who was in your shoes? What could be done differently next time? How would another person handle this situation?
Suppose we’re going, to be honest with ourselves. Our mistakes are just part of life—so why not make them teachable moments instead of something that makes us feel worthless and small inside?
5. Face Your Pain Head On
This one is tough, but it’s so important.
Avoiding our pain does not make it go away. Avoidance can actually make things worse. When we try to push our pain down and ignore it, it has a way of creeping back up when we least expect it. And often, it comes out in destructive ways.
This doesn’t mean that you have to relive the experience over and over again in your mind. But it does mean that you must acknowledge what happened and how it made you feel. This is the only way to move on truly.
6. You Are Resilient
You are stronger than you think.
You have been through a lot in your life, and you have survived. Every time you thought you couldn’t make it through, you did. So remember that the next time you’re facing a challenge. That is proof of your strength and resilience.
If you can get through all the tough times you’ve faced so far, you can get through this too. It is normal to feel anxious, and thoughts of self-doubt will creep in, but don’t forget how far you’ve come, who you are, and what you’re capable of. I am dead serious. Think about a challenging point in your life. It could be childbirth, running a marathon, or even getting out of bed on days you really don’t want to.
7. You Have To Develop A Sense Of Humor
If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry.
I have gone through some tough times in my life. I have seen members of my family try to commit suicide, the death of family members that I was close to, and friends that I have part ways with that hurt me still to this day. I would have been a blubbering mess a long time ago if I had not built this protective sense of humor to coat myself with.
Having a sense of humor doesn’t mean you don’t take things seriously. It just means that you can laugh in the face of adversity, which is exciting, and look at life through an altered lens. Perspective is everything, and if you can change your perspective from a negative one to a more positive or at least an amused one, you’ll find that life is much more fun.
One of the best pieces of advice I can give you is to find things to laugh about every day, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Laughter is one of the best ways to let go of the past and move on. If it is watching an episode of “Rick & Morty” that gets you laughing or reading a book by David Sedaris, find something that works for you. Then do it!
You need to be able to laugh at yourself, at your mistakes, and at the hand that life has dealt you. It might sound clichéd, but it’s true. Laughter really is the best medicine. When we laugh, it releases endorphins—the same feel-good chemicals released when we exercise. Think about how wild that is for a second. Laughter has the same benefits as working out! So, the next time you’re feeling down, try to find something to laugh about. I guarantee it will help you feel better.
The truth is, there is no secret to learning how to let go of the past. It takes courage, patience, a determined will, and perseverance if you are going to turn your life around. It has to be said that letting go of the past is not a straightforward process. So when you are trying to resolve some issues in your life, whether they are personal or professional, it would be good to keep these five lessons in mind. They should help make your journey that much smoother.
What lessons have you learned about letting go of the past? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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Lindberg, S. (2018, September 1). How to let go: 12 tips for letting go of the past. Healthline. Retrieved July 20, 2022, from https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-let-go
Lumley, M. A., Cohen, J. L., Borszcz, G. S., Cano, A., Radcliffe, A. M., Porter, L. S., Schubiner, H., & Keefe, F. J. (2011, September). Pain and emotion: A Biopsychosocial Review of recent research. Journal of clinical psychology. Retrieved July 20, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3152687/