Of all the trite things people like to say that drive me nuts, nothing annoys me more than when people know you are hurt, have suffered a loss, betrayal or broken heart and they look at you, make a stern face (or use their stern voice on the phone) and say, “just let it go!”
Now look, it is not that I don’t agree with the premise that “letting go” is a necessary, cleansing, powerful and healing thing to do in life. I do. But, like all of you out there, I struggle with the big three: Setting healthy relationship boundaries, freely giving and asking for forgiveness and finally, being able to let things go.
I think it is important for those of us who like to write columns and dispense advice to actually break down what something means, and how we get there successfully. So, today I want to endeavor to explain to you what “letting go” actually means, and what it does not mean. And how we as fragile and emotional human beings can actually learn how to get through whatever it is we are going through and move forward as healed whole beings. Let me just say at the outset — letting go of someone we love, were in love with, who was our closest confidante, spouse, lover, best friend, business colleague or beloved family member can be devastating to the human soul. Not being able to “let go” of our grief, our pain and hurt will ultimately lead us to a place of depression, isolation, physical illness and worse.
The other day there was news of a young man, Lee Thompson Young (celebrity/TV personality) who reportedly shot and killed himself. He was just 29 years of age. I paused to reflect on what could be so bad in a 29 year old’s life that he would kill himself. I suspect we will never really know, but I do know that the times in my life when I held on to things that had hurt me, or held on to people who walked away, that I felt pretty low. Luckily for me, I have a very good support system of women and men friends, counselors, prayer warriors and family that have been there to get me through whatever it is I was going through.
Letting go means simply that we “release” that which is no longer healthy for us, or life giving to us. It means simply that we stop carrying it, and cast it off so that we can keep living. It does not mean it happens overnight. It does not mean we won’t have memories. It does not mean that we will forget. What it does mean is that we are taking back our “power” from that person, place or thing that hurt us so deeply. It does mean that we have decided we love ourselves more than that thing which is serving as a huge distraction and “block” to the many blessings and open doors right in front of us.
Here are five steps that I would highly recommend you put into action the next time you can’t seem to shake the “how do I get over this person,” or “this life event has me stuck.”
1. Admit your hurt. When we have been hurt we must acknowledge that hurt and not push it down. We have to find the courage to work through our pain and not deny that it exists. To do so only delays our healing. It gives that person or thing a stronghold in our lives. Making it impossible to release it. You must face it, in order to fix it.
2. Get counseling. Most employers have free counseling built into their health plans and employee benefits. Most churches have counselors on staff. There are non-profits that exist that help people to deal with depression, divorce, recovery and rebuilding after a loss or breakup. Utilize those services there is no shame in it at all. Smart people get counseling so they can move on.
3. Lean on your support system. None of us is an island. People need people. Your friends and family are not therapists, but utilize them strategically to get you through. Go out. Fellowship. Talk. Cry. Pray. Listen to wise counsel. It will help you get over the loss and move forward.
4. Practice gratitude for what you have. I recently did a 31-day gratitude journey. It changed my life. It really did. It make me focus on what I have and who I have in my life that blesses me, versus looking at who and what has hurt me in my past. It made me look up to God and say thank you for my life. It made me see things around me, and all the wonderful doors that are waiting wide open, as I was stuck focusing on the doors that closed. Gratitude is an attitude that absolutely determines our altitude.
5. Pray. Meditate. Release. There is power in getting still. I did a seven-day “soul detox”that I wrote about here on The Huffington Post a few weeks ago. I highly recommend you find a place, a time, a way to be still. And write it out. Cry it out. Call it out. Whatever the “it” is in your life that you have not let go of — you must face it in order to fix it. Prayer connects us to God. Meditation connects us to ourselves. And releasing is how we restore, renew and redefine our broken hearts to a place of healing.
For more by Sophia A. Nelson, click here.
For more on emotional wellness, click here.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.