In order to live our potential in life, we need to find the middle ground between denial and holding on. This involves accepting and allowing ourselves to feel the emotion for an appropriate time (relative to the experience) before letting go.
'But how do I let go?' you might ask. This is perhaps the most often asked question in holistic counselling and one that causes much frustration for people trying to heal. They will often say 'I have felt the emotion; I have understood the purpose of the experience.... but I still can't let go!'.
Unfortunately, there is no 'one size fits all' answer for this question. But there are some points of awareness that can assist with letting go. Below are tips for letting go; using anger as an example.
First let yourself feel the anger. Write it down if need be or talk to someone in order to express and begin the process of releasing. If appropriate (and once you have calmed down), talk to the other person, explaining your disappointment and how this can be avoided in the future. Once this is done:
1. State your intent to yourself and out loud that you are letting go of the emotion/incident. Write it down to reinforce it.
2. Examine the intent of the person that brought about the anger. More often than not, the intent of the other person was not to hurt. And if it were, then that person is expressing their own hurt. This doesn't justify their actions but it assists us in changing our perception from someone that is 'bad' to someone that is too hurt themselves to behave appropriately.
3. Don't dwell on the situation that caused the anger. This means, no reruns in your mind; no visualising of scenarios related to the incident. Every time you think of the incident, you need to redirect your focus to something else.
4. Accept that people are human and as such make mistakes. Even when we 'know better' we still make mistakes. Nobody does this on purpose and it is not till we have hindsight that we recognise our error. Life is not black and white. Sometimes our reasoning seems sound at the time and other times we just don't think. This is a normal part of being human and trying to juggle work, school, emotions, relationships.....etc.
5. Take action to remedy the situation. If something can be fixed, do so. A large portion of our anger stems from something being broken, damaged, lost, wasted, stolen, taken away from us etc. Once we begin to fix this (or see that it can be remedied), then our anger (which is in part fear) begins to dissipate. If it is something that cannot be fixed or retrieved (eg. a relationship break up; an argument), then we take steps to forgive and/or move forward.
6. Acknowledge and understand the purpose of the experience. There is something to be learned or gained from most if not all experiences. Sometimes that lesson is related to the incident itself and other times the learning is in how we choose to react to the incident.
7. Lastly, visualise yourself opening up and letting go; much in the same way as we open our hands to let go of an object.
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