To let go of a setback or failure or a person and move on is the most challenging thing that we all go through at some point in life.
When we are young, we are supposed to grow up as a certain someone.
When we grow up, we are supposed to behave as a certain someone.
When we start a career, we want to reach a certain somewhere.
When we are in a relationship, we expect a certain something.
When we break-up, we are supposed to behave in a certain way.
Being humans, we expect a lot from others and from ourselves to add meaning to our lives. We have plans, dreams, desires, and in the process of fulfilling all, we get attached to all the things, events, people who eventually become a part of our journey.
When do things go wrong?
Things go wrong only when there is a clash. A clash with these set “certain expectations.”
We focus on making our lives great and meeting expectations. Things get complicated when there is a setback. A setback can be anything- a failed relationship, a different way of thinking that doesn’t fit in society, unable to behave as expected, a toxic habit, or not fulfilling dreams.
This heap of expectations that we built for ourselves and others around us makes it difficult for us to move forward. Combining them with the emotions of guilt, resentment, failure, self-doubt, anger, and anxiety makes it further difficult for us to let go of the hardships.
Whenever we face a setback in our lives, our natural tendency is to correct it and make it “what it used to be.” We want to hold on to the past, to make our present as the past. And that is the biggest mistake we make to ourselves. Not letting things go only increases suffering, brings more stress, and stops us from moving forward in life.
What is meant by letting go?
There are two ways to be. One is at war with reality, and the other is at peaceByron Katie.
To let go means to stop holding onto something. It means to free yourself from the things or people or events that no longer add any value to your life. Letting go means to move on in life, to let life take its natural course. When you let go, it means you are letting go of the anger, resentment, guilt, “how-life-would-have-been-if,” and all the related negative emotions and painful thoughts.
To let go and move on doesn’t mean you have to forget about a certain someone or a specific setback. Practically it cannot happen 100%. You are always left with memories of what you experienced and the learnings that followed it. The advantage of letting go is that it detaches you from those setbacks, the emotions no longer haul you, your decisions become free, and you can focus on your present.
Letting go is not the same as giving up. When you give up, it means you are limiting yourself with the present opportunities that life has to offer you. But, when you let go, you free yourself to explore endless possibilities that life brings for you!
There is this amazing book you should read – The subtle art of not giving a F*uck.
How to let go and move on?
When it comes to emotions, nothing is the same. We might face similar experiences, but our approaches would always differ. It varies from person to person, depending on individual nature. Well, then, how exactly do you let go of things that weigh you down?
Here are some techniques that helped me to let go of unfortunate events of my life. It might help you also:
#1. To accept the situation
The first step towards bringing any change in your life or thought process is accepting your present the way it is. It is about:
- Accepting what has happened
- Accepting the fact that even though you are a fantastic human being, a something bad happened to you
- Accepting that you are in pain. The setback has caused suffering to you in many known-unknown ways
- Accepting that you tried your best (or didn’t) to fulfil your dreams or to control the situation
Acknowledging that there is a situation that is enough to put you on the right track of recovery to move on!
When you accept your situation, you become mindful of your thoughts, feelings, actions, and emotions. You can understand the problem with some fresh perspective.
How to test this?
A similar situation in movies will make you relate yourself or your story to it. When your friends ask you about it, you’ll be able to talk. When there is a discussion about a related situation, you will not get angry or frustrated. Your emotions won’t crowd your brain anymore!
Even those feelings or emotions might keep coming to you, but being self-aware, can resist those thoughts or distract yourself before going deeper.
#2. Grieve when needed
Don’t hide your emotions to prove a point. There are several ways you can try, such as:
- To cry your heart out
- Talking to someone whom you trust
- Write down your feelings and emotions and pain in a journal
If you had a break-up: write down all that you felt or are feeling. You may then post it to keep it to yourself!
Suppose you lost someone: plan or participate in the last ritual to say bye to them. Make a scrapbook or a photo album to cherish your memories.
#3. Don’t hold grudges
Holding a grudge is very easy. It takes no time to have a grudge against a good friend for one wrong thing that he/she did to you.
When you hold a grudge against someone or something or life, you are filled with bitterness. No matter how right you feel about the reasons for holding that grudge (it was an unethical act, he betrayed me, I felt cheated, he deserves it, etc.), please don’t hold on to it for long. It will help if you let off that anger for your betterment and happiness.
- Firstly, try to give a second chance. Mistakes happen. Be it your friend, or relationship, or life
- Secondly, if you feel strongly that there is no way you can forgive, cut all your ties. Distance yourself
- Lastly, if none of the above options work, follow the “forgive and forget” strategy
If you’re brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello.Paulo Coelho.
#4. Shift your focus
Don’t listen to people about how you should behave or what they think you need. There is no particular way to let go. Your friend’s method might not work for you.
If you feel that watching movies all by yourself will help you out, do that. If sometimes staying alone can help you heal, do that. Don’t dwell on the past; instead, focus on what opportunities life has to offer. There will be new beginnings, new adventures waiting for you!
The best way to let go of one thing is to hold on to some other thing. Something positive, healthy, new!
- Distract yourself with work
- Develop new habits to hold on to. Additionally, let your old passions and dreams resurface
- Surround yourself with people who help you discover new things in life
Do not get away from the past, but chase the future
#5. Believe in yourself
Everyone deserves all the happiness. One setback or failure doesn’t mean that you don’t stand a chance to be happy again or try again. You will find that people mock your situation or reactions or show sympathy to you, but you have to learn to ignore it strong enough to be who you are.
- Develop self-esteem and inner strength
- Own your imperfections and find solutions your way
- Stop blaming yourself
- Give some space. Some time
Don’t give others the power to mess up with your head. You alone are enough for that! Your positive attitude, willingness to change the situation, and confidence will eventually make things right. Just give it some time!
Somethings we can change, somethings we cannot. Refusing to let go, holding on to false expectations, exhausting yourself to achieve something isn’t going to bring any happiness or success or change. To let go of something or someone is not an easy job, neither there is no definite timeline, still, it is important to move on. It’s a process that will take its own time. But you have to start at some point, don’t you?