It is not uncommon to find yourself in the position that you just can’t let go of something. Every experience, feeling and thought can be like a balloon, one that is filled with helium and can lift us up or one that is weighted and pulls us down. It might be an object, an argument, an experience, or even something more serious. There is beauty in learning to let go and for your mental health, it can have the most astounding impact.
Why We Hold Onto Things
It is natural to do this, holding onto to those balloons – feelings and thoughts about a situation, person, experience can in some ways give us comfort. Not in the sense of feeling better, but when thinking about understanding how we’ve been hurt.
Brains are funny entities and are constantly at work to protect us. Everything that happens to us is stored away and filed. When something upsetting happens to us, our brains want to remind us that this is how we got hurt, we should make sure this doesn’t happen again.
This can compound a fear of the unknown, what happens next? We know this has happened, will it again? Analysing the experience and keeping those thoughts and feelings at the forefront of our mind is a way to ensure we remember to not go through this again.
We may also feel a sense of injustice, that we’ve been wronged and this can lead to anger, as well as building a need for revenge.
It can become a habit, we get locked into this cycle of holding on tightly to painful experiences just like a child who doesn’t want their balloon to fly away. W start building emotional walls against further instances, constantly analysing and assessing it. It is exhausting.
Why Should We Learn To Let Go?
Aside from feeling drained when this is happening, our mental health can definitely suffer.
All emotions are important and we absolutely should take the time to feel them and recognise why we are experiencing them at any one time. However, our thoughts are very different and often do not represent the reality we are presented with.
Over time, when holding onto something our emotions become feelings that we attach to negative thoughts surrounding that experience. Those thoughts are not necessarily accurate. Thoughts are not reality, we need to learn to separate them from how we feel, as they can be overly negative. Each time we start holding onto another balloon, then another and another.
Eventually those balloons become harder and harder to hold, so many make navigating life difficult. Leaving the house with all these things surrounding us is hard, resting is hard, thinking is hard, life is hard. It’s overwhelming.
Being your own worst enemy can be extremely tough! (Speaking from experience here). It can drag you down mentally and physically living within that negative thought pattern. You might develop anxieties about the future, begin suffering with a low mood, become detached and aloof, be overly self-critical, to name but a few. Your self-esteem, self-confidence and self-worth are all affected.
Letting go gives you the opportunity to move forward, rebuild your confidence and self-esteem. To believe in yourself again. It helps you to rebuild trust in others and relieve aspects of doubt and anxieties. Most of all, you wont be living in that cycle of negative thoughts, constantly beating yourself up.
How Do I Let Go?
What exactly are you feeling?
You need to own those thoughts and feelings. Sit with them, examine them and understand them. They are yours and have become part of who you are, so take a good look. Emotions aren’t good or bad, they just are.
Accept the situation, if it is an argument for example accept that it happened. The other person may never apologise, you may never have the chance to, but that doesn’t mean you can’t accept that and move forward. It sounds cliché, but these things have already happened, they can’t be changed. Give yourself that new perspective to allow your self to move on.
Acceptance is empowering, it can also give you a renewed sense of freedom and allows you to actually begin to let go.
I can’t tell you how exactly to let go, this is different for everyone. You could visualise your problem attached to a balloon. Releasing those balloons, detaching those weights and just watching them float away can be freeing. Acceptance may be all you need, or you might need to get a helping hand. What works will be very personal to you.
Where To Get Help
If you are holding onto something traumatic and are really struggling to work through those thoughts and feelings, please contact your GP or seek counselling. This magazine is here to give little steps to improve mental health and reconnect you with wonder. We are not able to heal you nor give you advice specific to your situation. There is no shame in asking for help, in fact it could change your whole life.
There is a little pink button in the top right of your screen, click on that and it will take you to our Therapy and Where To Find It section. Here there is a list of contacts that we add to regularly that you can use as a starting point.