You know those negative thoughts that stick like glue? It might be something that someone said or a relationship/situation that follows you around like a little dark cloud. It has the ability to ruin your day, taint your happiness, and make you less open to others and experiences.
For me, I find that I have the ability to overthink things. Something negative will happen and I will roll it over and over in my mind for days. Letting go is not easy but there are some strategies that you can use to make it a little less difficult. One thing I will say is that these strategies need to be intentionally practiced. If you are in the habit of hanging on to negativity, your mind won’t automatically go to these strategies on its own. Write them down in your phone or tape them to your mirror. Keep them somewhere accessible so that you’re reminded of them everyday and over time, your mind will find them more readily accessible.
Practicing meditation sharpens your mind and your ability to direct it to what you want your mind to focus on instead of what it automatically responds with. Meditation will let you take back the power that your mind has to run in circles. This tool is a prerequisite for all of the other strategies. It’s a foundation to build from because without the exercised ability to alter your own thoughts, the other strategies will come with more challenge. Check out my tips for practicing mindfulness everyday.
If you have the same negative thought spinning in your mind, replace it! Replace it with something good, something that makes you happy. Keep a little list of happy thoughts on you for when you’re feeling like you’re hanging on to something toxic. Giving your mind new thoughts to feed on will help to draw it away from that message on repeat. This might even mean physically doing something that brings you happiness. For instance, if I’m having a hard time letting go, I might attend a dance class. The class requires enough of my attention that it lets me forget for an hour and it leaves me feeling positive and euphoric which will beat out whatever negativity I couldn’t shake beforehand.
“In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.” If you just can’t detach from negativity, try practicing gratitude to lift you out of it. You can do this by simply expressing your gratitude to someone or write what you’re thankful for in a notebook. I have found great positive change from writing in a gratitude journal every night. I take 30 seconds or so to jot down one thing that I’m grateful for that day. This journal has become handy in letting go of negativity because not only does the practice of writing it make me feel lighter, but I’ll even find myself reading through the pages of notes to free myself from a funk.
Talking to others about what we’re hanging on to can be so key! Confiding in someone you trust can release negativity, just from saying it out loud. The person you’re talking to may be able to lend a new perspective that enables you to let go or perhaps they just give you the space to vent and you can leave the conversation feeling lighter. One thing to be careful of is that your confidant doesn’t begin to illuminate the negativity further. Be clear that you don’t need them to get wrapped up too and allow you to wallow for much longer. Often when we hear what we’re feeling out loud, we realize how pointless it is to be hanging on to in the first place.
Take ownership over your own actions and accept that you can’t change those of others. If you are being your best self in a scenario and someone upsets you, it isn’t up to you to change how they are behaving or take on their negative energy. The only outcomes you can control are your own feelings, thoughts, and perspectives. Letting go can come from within if you accept the behaviour of others as being their responsibility and not yours. You don’t need to carry around the weight of a situation that is completely out of your hands.
I hope you’re feeling lighter and brighter already! Remember, you are worthy and beautiful.