Recently I had a very interesting conversation with someone who had booked a telephone consultation with me. They shared they have had therapy for years and were fed up with talking about the same things over and over again. The person said to me: “How do I move forward and let go of the things that are holding me back?” That question inspired me to write this blog as I’d like to share with you some ideas. The first thing that came to my mind was:
1. Accept people for who they are
One of the most common things in life that may hold us back is not accepting people for who they are. Very often we have a certain image of how we’d like them to be, or how they could be if we fixed them. The thing is, the only person who can change them is themselves. In essence, the brain doesn’t like change and it’s wired to respond with resistance when someone tells us what to do. Very often, our hope or expectation that other people will change is the very thing that keeps us from moving forward! The moment we accept people for who they are can be a revelation and it may even open up some new possibilities we haven’t considered earlier.
The act of forgiveness is an interesting phenomenon as it’s so dependent on perception. Not being able to forgive may mean we experience unsettling emotions whenever we think of someone who did us wrong. A significant period of time may have lapsed but you continue to feel the same anger, resentment and desire for retaliation. The thing is, the brain doesn’t do time so no matter how long it’s been, whenever you bring it to mind and reinforce its significance by y adding more emotion, that same memory just becomes more strengthened. On the other hand, our brain can’t tell the difference between imagination and reality. It means that whenever you recall those same events, on a physiological level, your body responds the same way. Think of all the stress hormones that have been released in your body over the years just by thinking about it! You deserve to be free! You can decide how you want to do this…maybe take a pen and paper and start writing “I forgive…” or “I’m letting go of…” Some people prefer doing mirror work and do this whilst looking at themselves in the mirror.
3. Take responsibility
There were some events in my life when I was hurt and wanted to retaliate. However, when I looked closely, I realised I was actually angry with myself and for me, that was the hardest thing to deal with. It felt very confusing, because there were different emotions that needed acknowledging. One of the most prominent was the realisation that I may not need to be at fault when mistreated but I’m responsible for what I do afterwards. Taking responsibility is essential for moving forward in life. This is also the moment we realise that we have a choice. Everything else is waiting.
4. Be clear on how you want to feel
Trying to escape what makes us uncomfortable doesn’t always bring us closer to being comfortable. Due to the brain’s negative bias, we are naturally more focused on thinking about what we don’t want in life. Consequently, we just get more of the same! As someone once said: “What we think about, we bring about.” On top of this, if we notice that we repeat the same scenarios over and over again, we are subconsciously choosing what is familiar. The reason being is we know how to respond in those situations as we already have a pattern. Now, being clear on how we’d like to feel instead can give us a new sense of direction. It’s very much like giving our brain an instruction on what to work on.
5. Take one step at a time
Deciding to do something you’ve never done before, however beneficial, may feel scary at times. This is because it’s a completely new experience, something we don’t have a template for. We have a natural tendency to want to have all questions answered before we make a decision. However, trying to have all the pieces of puzzle ready can feel overwhelming. The good news is, our brain is incredibly resourceful and it will even work whilst you sleep to help you move closer to your desired outcomes. The best illustration of this are those “Aha” moments we have during a break at work or after a good night’s sleep. “Behavioral scientists have also found that just asking people about their future decisions significantly influences those decisions, a phenomenon known as the “mere measurement effect.” How fantastic is that?! Now, with that in mind, you can decide to take one step at a time. Maybe tackle them by asking yourself very simple questions like: “What do I need to do first? Or “What little thing can I do today that will bring me closer to my wonderful goal?”
Want to read more? Try this – Is your future paying for your past?