Derek shares his personal struggle as an example of how moving on with life is very possible.
“Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.” CS Lewis
Over three years ago my wife left me, most unexpectedly. It devastated me, and I remained in denial for over a year. Eventually, I came to accept the end of the marriage, and have been trying to get past it and Let It Go ever since. Disney’s movie Frozen even made an anthem out of this phrase at about the same time, but somehow that didn’t help me to achieve that goal.
Endlessly I’ve read and spoken about how to accept the past, embrace the present and build for the future. Yet watching a movie or catching a commercial depicting family struck me deeply and resulted in me wiping away a few tears. Generally speaking, I next found myself frustrated for being a suck.
“Why can’t I just Let It Go? It doesn’t feel good to hold on to the hurt. I want to move on, but how?”
Maybe I can’t Let It Go completely. Maybe that just isn’t realistic for me. Actually, is it even realistic for anyone to fully let go of something they once considered so precious? I deeply loved my wife and children, our family unit, and still today I wish to have my children under my roof with me every night. How can I just Let It Go completely, once and for all?
I’ve definitely tried making myself so busy that I didn’t have enough down time to feel the negative emotions. It was a valiant effort to ‘fake it till you make it’, except that it didn’t really work.
I didn’t feel good about the divorce, and for some reason I chose to hold onto that feeling. But now I realize that it was a choice, and that choice has been affecting my behaviours and my thinking, often making me miserable.
Happiness can be achieved when our thoughts, our emotions/feelings, and actions are in alignment.
This proved to be a critical realization for me recently. Here is how I have shifted my thinking, allowing me to release the negative emotions any time they surface.
It started with realizing and admitting that I will very likely always have emotions around the end of my marriage to the mother of my children. Yet, I can acknowledge those emotions when they surface, and consciously choose to let them go in that moment, and get back to being present. Choosing to let go in a moment is actually a gift of self love and self kindness.
Now, when these negative feelings and thoughts arise, I simply think, “Hey there negative thinking. It’s OK that you exist, but I’ve seen your propensity to hijack me, and that is NOT going to happen today. Nope. Right now I recognize you, and I choose to instead focus my attention on my very awesome present reality.”
This negative pattern of thinking might well continue to exist, but its power is diminished by my realizing that I can choose to Let It Go. I have the power to change where I focus my energy, thoughts and emotions.
So, I choose to celebrate where I am now, by acknowledging where I’ve been. I set plans in place for the future, but I don’t get consumed with them. When things change, I adapt and go with the flow. It’s so much better than my old way of being overly attached to a made up outcome that may or may not ever come to exist. Then being upset about how the outcome developed, usually different from what I had expected.
I’ve grown so much in the last 3 years, and am a much better man because of my struggles. A kinder man, a more attentive listener, a better father, friend, son and boyfriend. Overall, I am happier and much more present. I may not have found a way to Let It Go completely, but I’m ok with that.
The past is behind me, I’ve learnt from it.
My future is ahead of me, so I prepare for it.
My present life is now, so I choose to live it boldly.
And so can you! Every journey is different, but we can all get there in our own way.
Photo credit: Getty Images