One thing that connects us as human beings is our ability to feel pain. Whether that pain is physical or emotional, we all have experiences of being hurt. What separates us though, is how we deal with that pain. Experts have found that when emotional pain prevents you from healing from a situation, it’s a sign that we aren’t moving forward in a growth-oriented way. One of the best ways to heal from hurts is to learn lessons from the situation and use those to focus on growth and forward momentum. If we get stuck in thinking about what “should have been,” we can become immobilized in painful feelings and memories.
If you’re trying to move forward from a painful experience, but you’re not sure how to get started, here are 4 tips to help you let go.
- Allow the negative emotions to flow
If your fear of feeling negative emotions is causing you to avoid them, don’t worry, you’re not alone. In fact, experts say that many times, people are afraid of feelings such as grief, anger, disappointment, or sadness. Rather than feeling them, people just try to shut them out, which can disrupt the process of letting go. “These negative emotions are like riptides,” said psychologist Durvasula. “Let them flow out of you… It may require mental health intervention, but fighting them can leave you stuck.”
- Create a positive mantra to counter the painful thought
How you talk to yourself can either move you forward or keep you stuck. Often, having a mantra that you tell yourself in times of emotional pain can help you reframe your thoughts. For example, says clinical psychologist Carla Manly, Ph.D., instead of getting stuck in, “I can’t believe this happened to me!” try a positive mantra such as, “I am fortunate to be able to find a new path in life — one that is good for me.”
- Create physical distance
It’s not uncommon to hear someone say that you should distance yourself from the person or situation that is causing you to be upset. According to clinical psychologist Ramani Durvasula, Ph.D., that’s not such a bad idea. “Creating physical or psychological distance between ourselves and the person or situation can help with letting go for the simple reason that we are not having to think about it, process it, or be reminded of it as much,” she explains.
- Do your own work
Focusing on yourself is important. You have to make the choice to address the hurt that you’ve experienced. When you think about a person who caused you pain, bring yourself back to the present. Then, focus on something that you’re grateful for.