Letting Go

When I do presentations I usually talk about the stress inflicted on us, such as trauma, unexpected changes in our circumstances, or even high demands that are placed on us at work. But what about stress and anxiety we cause ourselves because we messed up?

I often talk to people that have stress in their lives because of mistakes they have made, errors in judgment, or just not doing what they knew was the right thing to do. This feeling of guilt can be a powerful negative emotion that can harm our ability to be happy, effective and successful. So you need to let it go.

But hang on, aren’t we supposed to feel guilty when we do something wrong? Absolutely. There is a valid purpose for guilt. It is to let us know we violated our standards, we did something that was not consistent with our values, with who we are. We need to use that horrible feeling as an impetus to change. Guilt should be used as a course correction, not as a reason to beat yourself up for the next five years. Too often people feel guilt for so long that it changes their perception of themselves, and it turns into shame and self-hatred. That type of emotion is not helpful, and it decreases the person’s ability to deal with any type of stress.

If you can let go of that crap you’ve been hanging onto for years it will have a profound effect on your level of resilience. Research has shown that people that have a tendency to live in the past don’t do as well in disasters or facing other stressful events. It’s much healthier to live in the now. Be in the present moment.

How do you do that? One method is Mindfulness Meditation which helps you to focus on the present moment without worrying about the past or being concerned about the future. It’s very effective in reducing stress. I don’t have room to teach it here, so if you’re interested, Google it.

Another way of learning to let go is “The Sedona Method”. It’s a technique used for releasing negative emotions such as guilt or shame. There is a book by Hale Dwoskin called “The Sedona Method”, and it takes you step by step through the technique of letting go. I think the book is longer than it needed to be because it’s a fairly simple process, but I’ll recommend it anyway.

We all make mistakes. When you mess up, use the guilt as an impelling force to propel positive changes, and thenlet it go.