Shouda, Coulda, Woulda’s got you down? Do you find yourself feeling anxious or depressed about mistakes from the past? Have you been living with a case of the regrets? One of the hardest skills to learn can be the art of letting go. When you feel anxiety or feel depressed about past mistakes, you cannot experience joy in the present moment. You are reliving moments that you no longer have control over, holding yourself hostage from moving forward with joy.
The reasons that people can’t let go of the past vary from perceived failure or lost opportunities to a breakup, or maybe a divorce causing a major change in life. Even when you know it isn’t healthy to continue to ruminate about past events, you still can’t stop thinking about them. Even when you know that it does no good to feel guilt or shame about something you did in the past and cannot change it, you still feel regrets. Trying to ease anxiety or depression after something doesn’t go the way you expected that it would, can be hard to do alone.
Sometimes when you perceive loss, failure, or disappointment, you lack the ability to see what you have. You only focus on what you don’t have because it is making you feel so bad. You need to stop that negative behavior and unhealthy mindset dead in its tracks now before it becomes a habit. Take pen to paper and write down all the things you get joy, pleasure, happiness, and love from in your life today. If the list needs to start with something as simple as “being able to take a shower with my favorite body wash,” then let that be the start. Your list will grow the more you focus on the present moment, looking only at the here and now.
When you stay stuck ruminating or feeling depressed about past mistakes that you think you made, you are holding yourself hostage with the past. If you keep wishing you had handled a situation differently, then you are also thinking of a time when you were younger. A time when you were very different than you are today. Even one day ago, you were different and knew different things than you do today. The problem with thinking this way about the past is that it is done with hindsight vision, based on foresight knowledge and wisdom. You need to say goodbye to the old you. You need to understand that the decisions you made then were the right ones for you at those times. You need to make peace with the decisions you made in those moments based on what you knew then, not on what you know now.
Change what you can today, but do not keep regretting things you no longer have control over. Learning from past mistakes is an incredible thing, but only if you have a plan to do things differently next time. There is nothing gained by wishing you could get a do-over for anything in your past. The only gains from past failures, disappointments, or losses, comes from accepting things as they are today, and changing what you can to prevent them from happening again. Maybe you need professional help to get you to a place of acceptance, or to talk to a counselor who can help you develop an action plan for change. You need to understand that you lose power by staying focused on what is no longer, but that you empower yourself by learning to move forward in a better way.
There are few things that are permanent in life. Even when it comes to a relationship ending causing anxiety, pain or intense sadness or longing. You may believe that things will never get better or that you will never have a second chance at love again. If you lost a job opportunity, you may think you will never get another one, and be tempted to give up. Giving up is the last thing you should do. It is ok to grieve a loss, to be sad and feel disappointment. Give yourself time to feel those emotions, but while you do that, you need to remind yourself that this is temporary. These feelings will pass. You do not need to let them define you. You will feel love again. You will have other opportunities. Even if you feel this bad luck keeps happening to you over, and over again, you can reach out to someone for help this time. Nothing is ever set in stone. You can talk to a life coach, a counselor in Orlando, or a therapist anytime for closure and for help letting go so you can start moving on.
There is a very good reason why the windows to your soul only have the ability to look forward. Your eyes were not strategically placed in front of you so that you could focus on what is behind you. Be ever mindful of where your thoughts are taking you and which moments you are choosing to live in. If you are conscientious about seeing things in the here and now, staying focused on the present, and still able to plan ahead, then you have discovered the art of letting go. There is a fine balance that needs to be found between learning from the past, staying in the present, and looking ahead to the future. Spending too long in your mind in any one of those states can cause your emotions to go off track. There is truth in the saying that anxiety happens when you worry too much about the future, and depression happens when you focus too much on the past. The other truth is you that you don’t have to stay feeling those ways.
Using these strategies and learning to live without regrets doesn’t mean that you need to forget your past. It doesn’t mean that your story changes or that you don’t acknowledge you made mistakes. It simply allows you the freedom to release negative emotions holding you hostage so that you can move forward with more joy and happiness. If you have found yourself ruminating and can’t let go of the past, call or email us today. We want to help you so that you can live your best life today.
Heather Oller is a licensed Orlando therapist at Orlando Thrive Therapy, Coaching & Counseling who specializes in counseling Orlando couples, individuals, and families who are seeking changes in their lives. She has been a mental health professional for over 17 years and is a practicing Orlando counselor that specializes in conflict resolution for couples. You can contact her for an appointment or call 407-592-8997 for more information.