It would be wonderful if we all got exactly what we wanted, and when we wanted it. But, the hard truth is that good things often take a lot of time and usually a few set backs along the way.
Once you’ve made a strong commitment and things still don’t work out, how do you pick up the pieces and carry on? To find your center again, you’ll have to muster the strength to let go of negative feelings and shift your attention to a world that is more positive.
Here are seven useful steps.
Start by noticing your experience of the situation:
How does it affect you? What are your thoughts? What are your feelings?
What’s happening in your body? Instead of looking outward for a quick fix look inward. Pay attention. Care for yourself. By watching your body and internal dialogue you can become aware; and its useful. If you start spinning out, you can notice it and reach out for some help. If you are down, you can talk about it. And, if you follow your breathing and slow down, you may just start to feel more grounded.
Catch your internal monologue in action:
The way we think affects the way we feel. Are those self-statements blaming, judgmental, or critical? Practice slowing those thoughts down by saying them out loud at an awkwardly slow pace. Breathe. Notice how they lose power when stifled in speed. Choose one statement and change a word or two in it to shift its meaning to a positive or neutral one. Say that statement slowly five times. Breathe. Notice the sense of relief this creates.
Acknowledge and validate your feelings:
Are you feeling angry, betrayed, or unappreciated? Those feelings are real! They are a natural result of the events that occurred and how you thought about the situation. Even when events take an unfortunate turn, it is possible to find a nugget of wisdom, positivity, or self-growth in that experience. First, accept how you feel. Say, “I feel hurt!” Own it. Don’t fight it. Through a process of self-acceptance, a letting-go of those difficult feelings can occur. The more you deny them and “should” yourself, the more energy you give to the self-defeating thoughts and feelings.
Drop the word “should” from your vocabulary!
It implies guilt or wrongdoing. It may be true that you made a mistake. We all do, from time to time. It’s a fact of the human condition. Nobody’s perfect. Instead of blaming yourself, ask yourself what you could have done better. Your self talk would sound like this, “It would be better if I had…” instead of “I shouldn’t have done or said this or that!” This new self statement acknowledges the blunder and turns it into a motivating statement for improvement rather than blame.
Notice your body:
Take a few moments to be still. Take three deep grounding breaths into the bottom of your belly and exhale completely. Do a body scan, beginning at the top of your head and working down through your torso, through your arms and legs and to the tips of your fingers and toes. Is there tension or discomfort anywhere? Some people feel a tightening in their shoulders and neck, others feel a knot in their stomach, and sometimes a clenching of fists or jaw occurs. This is where we store anxiety and stress. Practice simple breathing exercises for 5 minutes each day with special attention to relaxing and releasing those tense places.
Grieve Your Loss:
If you have been hurt or rejected there will be grief going forward. You lost a job, or a good friend, or the stability that you craved. Maybe you lost hope…for now.
Grief involves denial, anger, depression and then acceptance. Sometimes it involves forgiving, either yourself or someone else. It may shift over time from one feeling state to another. It’s grief and its normal. Over time grief allows our souls to heal. When done right, grief provides us the healing to move on. You will find your strength again.
Finding a Spiritual Way Through the Hurt:
Now, back to the terrible ex or the mean boss… well, trust that Karma is real and give that resentment up to the universe. It’s not benefitting you to hold it. It may, in fact be damaging you. The more time and energy you spend on negative thoughts, feelings, and experiences, the more ingrained they become in your DNA and brain structure. Let it go, like water under the bridge.
There is something bigger than our hurt, than our grief. This insight does not come quickly. And, it may be fleeting. But, over time, the hurt will diminish and you will become yourself again.
In the words of Buddha, “The mind is everything. What you think you become.”
This piece was a contribution to Psychology Today by guest blogger, Heather Edwards, MA, LMHC, who is a therapist and life coach located in New York City. She can be reached for consultation at:
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