Stepping onto a brand-new path is difficult, but not more difficult than remaining in a situation, which is not nurturing to the whole person. ~Maya Angelou
If you’re like me and millions of other people, at one time or another you have allowed problematic people or negative situations to linger in your life longer than reasonable. Perhaps it was a co-dependent relationship or a dead-end job that you couldn’t just let go of, so instead you waited patiently for things to get better. After years of disappointment, frustration and zero improvement, you decided it was time for you to change, rather than waste another minute waiting in vain.
Bravo! It took guts to choose your peace of mind over the comfort of the familiar. The moment you declared your freedom from that life-sucking drama, you felt an incredible burden lift off of your shoulders and that, for the first time in ages, your life was your own. But now you’re left to deal with a whole new reality, and the adjustment isn’t as glorious as you hoped it would be.
Instead of feeling free you feel frustrated, because you are left to pick up the pieces
Instead of being happy you feel bitter, because you wasted a lot of time
Instead of moving forward you feel stuck, because you’re not sure where to start
All of this “stuff” is beginning to weigh you down and all you want is to finally feel in control of your life again. But here’s what needs to happen in order to get to that point.
Come to Terms With What Really Happened
The truth will set you free. But first, it will piss you off. ~Gloria Steinem
When you leave a dysfunctional relationship or situation, it’s natural to be resentful about the way you were treated and the time you feel was wasted. But in order to move forward, you have to come to terms with the role you played, allowing yourself to be disappointed or mistreated for so long. Instead of fixating on the wrongs committed against you and fantasizing about your revenge, ask yourself why you tolerated what was happening when you knew you deserved better.
When I ask clients why they stuck it out, their answers vary among the following:
They were more comfortable with staying, even though they weren’t satisfied
They expected the other person or situation to change
They were unsure of how to communicate their wants and needs without being angry or creating conflict
They minimized the harmful effects of the person or situation
They believed this was as good as it gets for them
In most cases, they held on because they were clinging to the memory of happier times of the past—hoping things would go back to the way they were, rather than accepting the reality of the present and letting go.
If any of these resonate with you, know that it’s nothing to feel ashamed about. But acknowledging your role in what happened can help you let go of any bitterness, so that you can be able to heal. Remember a scorned person wants revenge, a whole person moves on.
Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward. ~C.S. Lewis
Coming to terms with what happened can be a bitter pill to swallow. And while the urge to be down on yourself is normal, it’s far more productive and empowering to just let it go. In other words, forgive yourself.
Yes, you’ve made some mistakes and even accepted less than you wanted for a time. But you’re in a new space today. Be proud of yourself for choosing to take back control of your life.
The process (yes it’s a process) of self-forgiveness includes acknowledging your role, feeling the pain, learning the lesson and growing through it so you can move forward. Cut yourself some slack.
Embrace Your New Reality
Some people don't like change, but you need to embrace change if the alternative is disaster. ~Elon Musk
It took months or even years to finally have the courage to declare enough already with the drama and negativity. And though your decision was instant, the consequences of that old way of living will take some time to resolve. Perhaps you now have to deal with accumulated debt or mounting financial obligations; face entitled loved ones who don’t want you to change; or navigate being on your own again. This is a time of adjustment for you as you’re moving towards positive change. It’s uncomfortable and it’s difficult (all healing is!), but it is temporary.
Be patient and diligent. It will take time to pull all the pieces back together and feel like you’re making progress. Don’t get stuck in discouragement, though. With every small step you take toward healing and positive growth, you’re taking back the joy you once lost and creating a life-long practice of peace.
Now I want to hear from you. Have you recently let go of a negative or drama-filled situation? In the comments below, tell me what your final straw was that made you decide it was time to move on.