We hold onto many things in our lives, ranging from hurt, anger, and betrayal to love, desire, and goals. We also hold onto people, sometimes long after a relationship has run its course. Wanting something or someone is part of being human, but it can hurt your mental well-being or emotional stability when you can’t attain what you want, or if things don’t turn out the way you imagined.
You may need to learn how to let go of the desires and emotions you’ve been holding onto as well as your fixation on a particular person. Whether it’s a positive desire for where you want to go in your career or a less-than-satisfying relationship with a friend or family member, either can lead to negative feelings.
Dr. Carolina Raeburn, Psy.D., describes the process of how to let go of negative influences on your mental health.
The Effects of Loss
Often, we hold onto people and things because we don’t want to lose them. We may hold onto a relationship with a toxic family member or hold onto a job where we expect a big promotion that can take us to the next step in our career. We may have trouble letting go because that relationship represents so much of our lives or an opportunity for the future.
Our expectations can lead to feelings of loss if we cut ties with a person, job, or possession that we’ve had for a long time. That feeling of loss can lead us to experience grief just as if we have lost a loved one to death.
People can experience the grief of loss whether the relationship was healthy or not. Each of us grieves in our own way, and we may not understand why we feel grief about removing a toxic influence from our life. Things may be changing for us to the point that we may feel that we no longer have control of the situation, even if we are the ones who initiate the process of letting go.
Releasing Negative Feelings
Negative thoughts and feelings can contribute to mental health problems and increase our stress, which can present with physical health ailments. Increased stress can lead to the development or worsening of anxiety, depression, acid reflux, high blood pressure, migraines, inflammatory conditions, and autoimmune diseases like Crohn’s, lupus, or rheumatoid arthritis.
If holding on to toxic relationships with family, lovers, or work—or pushing too far to attain a personal goal—is causing you to experience worsening mental health or physical symptoms, it may be time to learn how to let go.
The process of letting go of something (or someone) causing you pain can be a long one. You may also be afraid of the pain you could experience in finally releasing your bonds to the people, systems, or objects that caused your hurt in the first place.
Becoming aware of your thoughts, feelings, and actions may help you start letting go that the things that do not serve you anymore. When you experience certain emotions, you can catch yourself and ask yourself why and how. Do you blame the person in your toxic relationship for your feelings? Do you wonder what might have been if you had stayed at that job? Do you think you should have kept your dad’s old house in another state just because it was his?
Remind yourself that you may never know what might have been, but that you made your decision to reduce the negative influences in your life, reduce your stress, and live a healthier life for yourself. self-awareness can help you recognize your emotions, understand why you have those feelings, and thank them for visiting as you release them.
The Healing Process Takes Time and Energy
Healing can look different for different people. Consider how you might be able to recognize your hurt and address the pain you feel to improve your recovery. To heal fully and learn how to let go of your pain, you will need to dedicate time and energy to your own healing.
Practicing self-care can mean many different things. For some people, it’s joining a mountain-biking group and going on rides every weekend. For others, it’s doing guided meditation with a video from YouTube or a free mindfulness app.
Do you enjoy painting, learning an instrument, or journaling? Learn how you best respond to healing. Dedicate time for yourself regularly, whether that means ten minutes of meditation every morning before you get out of bed or a wine and painting class one night a week.
Check-in on Your Mental Health
You may need to talk about your process of letting go with a mental health professional. There are several therapy apps available on multiple platforms for reasonable monthly rates. If you prefer speaking to someone face-to-face, a licensed clinical psychologist can help you determine the best path to healing as you learn how to let go.
Live in the Present Moment
Pain can come from reliving the past as well as from failing to meet your expectations for the future. Mindfulness includes living in the present moment without the burden of past hurts or the worries of future expectations. To live in the present can let you take things as they are rather than how you remember them or how you hope they will be.
Contact a Mental Health Professional in Miami, FL
I hope this blog post helped you begin to see the benefits of learning how to let go. I’m Dr. Carolina Raeburn, a licensed clinical psychologist serving clients in Miami, FL. If you’re suffering from the pain of holding onto unhealthy relationships or expectations, I may be able to help. Contact me today to begin your client-centric plan for therapy.
*All the information published in this article is for informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment. Any information provided here is offered in generic form. Please consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns.