It’s not easy to let go of the things that make us who we are but if our life is plagued by worries and anxiety we must surely try.
In order to move forwards we need to:
- let go of old resentments
- let go of the painful memories
- let go of trying to predict the future
- let go of our physical tensions
- let go of the guardedness, the stiffness and vigilance that drain us, and enjoy bending with the breeze
Let’s explore these first two bullet points a little further. Painful memories and resentments often work together and while they can certainly result from recent experiences I think we all know just how far back they can stretch. Resentments are emotionally taxing and quite destructive. Invariably the focus is some form of injustice or unfairness we feel burdened with, but the effect is that we are unwilling or unable to let it go, perhaps in misjudged belief that our quest to be right will somehow culminate in a resolution of these same hurtful emotions?
Let Go of The Past
Many people with anxiety and depression (depression tends to be a close friend of anxiety) experience a lot of anger and resentment, but sometimes are unable to articulate why. It’s important to see resentments and painful memories for what they are. That is, they are in the past, and while they may be affecting you still, you cannot change the past. Resentment is a powerful emotion that leads people astray. It distorts thinking and puts a bias towards the negative, which only encourages worry and anxiety.
Turn Things Around
It’s important therefore to turn the situation around. Next time you find yourself ruminating don’t try to suppress your thoughts because you’ll only find it rebounds and you’ll ruminate even more. Allow your thoughts to arise but stand back from them as if it is nothing to do with you, like picking up a pebble from the beach. You could try examining it from different angles, then when you’re done, put it back down. This approach derives from a treatment approach called acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). The principles, as you may have guessed, are rooted in mindfulness.
Find Positive Feelings
Positive and negative feelings influence us in very different ways but curiously negative feelings can feel like an asset, so we need to be aware of this. For example it’s easier to be critical, to spot mistakes, to become more focused and more detailed when negative feelings dominate, but the key word here is negative. Positive feelings are altogether different. They help us to feel expansive, to come up with new ideas and possibilities and to consider opportunities rather than problems.