A Surprising Way to Let Go of Painful Feelings and the Past

Posted by on September 5, 2017 in Conscious Evolution, Conscious Living, Thrive with 0 Comments
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By Maria Stenvinkel | Tiny Buddha

“We do not heal the past by dwelling there; we heal the past by living fully in the present.” ~Marianne Williamson

I’ve struggled with it.

Letting go, I mean. I’ve struggled with moving on from my past. I’ve struggled with ridding myself of guilt, shame, and grief. I’ve struggled with freeing myself from mistakes, past relationships, and worries about the future.

It’s not that I haven’t tried. Believe me, I’ve tried really hard. I’ve written goodbye letters, mentally cut the energetic cords, and fiercely gone back into the pain to free myself fully from it. I’ve cried my eyes out, talked about it, and brought it to my meditation pillow.

What I’ve tried has helped to some extent, but not completely. So, instead of moving on I’ve felt stuck between my past and my future. You know, like in limbo. And that’s not the place to set up camp; both you and I know that.

It’s frustrating because I’m fully aware of the importance of letting go and moving on. I know that attachment is the reason we suffer. I know that past pain, anger, and resentment holds us back. I know that holding on to the unwanted blocks the wanted from coming in.

Letting go is essential. But, it’s not always easy to apply theory to practice. If you’ve also struggled with it, here’s another approach that has helped me to truly let go and move on.

Why Letting Go is Hard

First of all, everything is energy. Our thoughts and feelings emit a vibration, and what we send out to the world is what we receive back. This isn’t some woo-woo thing—it’s quantum physics (source).

That means that whatever we give our attention to—wanted or unwanted—grows. If you focus on happiness, joy, and satisfaction, you’ll experience more of that. If you focus on pain, regret, and guilt, you’ll experience more of that.

Just think about it, have you ever tried to rid yourself of stress, only to have found yourself getting more stressed, especially when you knew you shouldn’t stress? Or have you told yourself to stop worrying, only to have found more things to worry about?

Mother Theresa knew about this. She said, “I was once asked why I don’t participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.”

An anti-war demonstration focuses on war, which triggers feelings such as frustration, anger, and hopelessness. A pro-peace rally, on the other hand, focuses on peace.

The same goes for letting go. Unless you’re able to truly let it go—meaning that you withdraw your attention completely from it—you’re more likely to focus on the unwanted and thus draw more of that into your life.

Step 1: Say “yes” to what is.

You cannot reject or push against the unwanted. You cannot focus on a problem and find the solution. Because the solution is never where the problem is. So, you need to shift focus.

You shift focus by first accepting what is. If you want to let go of shame, start by first accepting that you’re feeling shameful. Don’t argue with your thoughts and feelings. Don’t resist them. Don’t try to push them away. Instead, give them permission to exist.

As Eckhart Tolle said, “Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it.” To reach complete acceptance, spiritual teacher Bentinho Massaro suggests a technique where you agree with your limiting and hurtful thoughts.

For example, to accept guilt over something that happened, tell yourself, “Yes, I’m guilty.” If you struggle with forgiveness, tell yourself, “Yes, that’s right, I can’t forgive this person.”

This doesn’t mean that what you’re saying is true. Instead, it’s a tool to control negative thoughts and emotions so they don’t control you. By agreeing with them, the battle between you and them ends. When there’s nothing more to argue about, they lose their power over you. Touché.

 

 

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