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How to Let Go of Negative Emotions and Thoughts

We all experience negative emotions and thoughts from time to time; it’s part of the human condition. However, for some of us letting go of painful emotions can be hard. This is usually for one of two reasons. The first is that we simply can’t let go because we don’t know how, or we choose to hold on to negative emotions because they serve some kind of purpose. Either way is not healthy.

In fact, long-term exposure to negative emotions can compromise your health and general wellbeing.  If you want to move forward and free yourself from those self-limiting emotions you could try the Sedona method and ten techniques outlined below.

The Sedona Method

The Sedona Method was created by a physicist called Lester Levenson, and his story is truly inspiring.  At the age of forty-two, he was diagnosed with a serious heart condition and was told by doctors that he had just months left to live. He was so frail that even attempting to tie his own shoelaces could have been enough to kill him.

So, what did he do? He didn’t just sit back and accept his fate. No, Lester started asking himself some deep questions and ascertained that he needed to let go of painful emotions to live. During this process, he developed the Sedona Method, and by applying it to his own life he lived another forty-three years.

For Lester, the turning point came when he asked himself what he wanted out of life. You can start by doing the same. What do you want from life? When are you at your happiest? Lester taught his students that they can redefine their own self-imposed limitations because it’s possible to expand the mindset and attain a new level of consciousness. 

This liberating method can be summed up in three simple steps.

Step One: Welcome the Feeling

Start by focusing on a matter you want to feel better about. Then, rather than trying to push away any unwanted or negative feeling, instead welcome it. The feeling doesn’t have to be strong. What’s important is that you know it’s there. 

Step Two: Ask Yourself Three Questions

  1. Could I let this feeling go?
  2. Would I let this feeling go?
  3. When do I let this feeling go?

When you ask yourself the first question, it’s important to remind yourself that you can choose to let go of any feeling that you want to. 

Then for the second question, consider whether or not it would be beneficial for you to hold onto this negative feeling. 

And finally, for the third question, you are consciously choosing to let go of a negative feeling at a specified time. And what’s more, you are recognizing that you can choose to do it right now.

Step Three: Repeat This Process

If you can’t let go the first time, that is okay. You have begun the process of acknowledging that it is within you to free yourself from all self-imposed limitations. Just simply repeat steps one and two so that you can conqueror the feelings that are holding you back in life.

Here are some other tips that you can use to move on from a difficult period.

1. Reframe Negative Thoughts

You can turn a negative thought into a positive one by choosing to take a new angle on it. For instance, think about a current problem in your life that has left you feeling negative. Then ask yourself these questions: Is there another way to look at this situation? Are there any other reasons why this may have happened? Recognizing that there is an alternative take on a problem or situation can enable you to see it from a new empowering perspective.

2. Give Yourself Physical Space

When you’ve been having a tough time with a person or situation, sometimes the best thing to do is create some physical distance. This gives you the time and space to focus on other things, which helps with letting go of negative feelings.

3. Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness allows you to truly be in the present moment. When you do this it can change the way that you see yourself and your life for the better. 

Professor Mark Williams who is an expert in mindfulness says: “An important part of mindfulness is reconnecting with our bodies and the sensations they experience. This means waking up to the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of the present moment. That might be something as simple as the feel of the banister as we walk up the stairs.”

You can become more mindful by stopping every so often during the day to really take note of the sensations that you experience. Whether that is what you can see, hear feel, smell, touch, or taste. It’s certainly a good way to draw your attention to the present. 

If you need a bit of a prompt to get started with this try the 54321 mindfulness technique.

  • 5 Look – Take a look around the room and name five things that you can see.
  • 4 Feel Next, focus on four things that you can feel. It could be the cushion you are sitting on and your feet in your shoes, for instance.
  • 3 Listen – What can you hear? Name three sounds.
  • 2 Smell – What can you smell? Name two things that you can smell. If you can’t smell anything right now you can move to another spot to smell something.
  • 1 Taste – State one thing that you can taste. It could even be the tongue in your mouth.

4. Practice Self Care

If you often criticize yourself for not living up to your expectations try instead to show yourself some compassion. We all mess up and make mistakes from time to time. It’s how we learn and improve. Aim to treat yourself like you would a best friend, and try not to compare yourself to others. You are unique. No one has lived your life but you so be patient with yourself and give yourself a treat.

5. Overcome Rumination

If you find yourself frequently replaying negative events over and over again in your mind it’s a sure sign that you find it hard to let go of the past. If you have tried really hard to move on from a negative situation but still find it niggling at you in your quieter moments you can improve how you feel about the issue.

To do this, instead of trying your best to let go,  accept fully where you are and embrace it with every bit of your being. You may feel shame, guilt, anxiety, sadness, or any other negative emotion when you do this.

However, by giving yourself permission to acknowledge these emotions you are also freeing yourself from their grip. Once you have done this, then shift your focus to what you would like your life to look like so that you can live with purpose and intention.

6. Meditate

Meditation is a useful tool for calming the mind and releasing stress from the body. All you need to get started is a quiet space and some comfortable clothing. 

Here is a basic meditation guide for beginners that is designed to increase mindfulness:

  • Simply sit still and focus on your breathing as you inhale and exhale. 
  • Next focus on where you feel your breath the most in your body. It might be in your nose or your belly, for instance. 
  • Now take a deep breath in, expanding your belly. 
  • Then breathe out slowly and notice your belly contracting while you focus on your breathing. 

How did that feel? Did your mind wander? If it did that is really common so don’t worry about it. 

If you would like to find out more about meditation you could head over to mindful.org.

7. Surround Yourself with Positive People

“The quality of a person’s life is most often a reflection of the expectations of their peer group.’ – Tony Robbins 

Spend time with people who make you feel good about yourself. Those who you spend the most time with will influence everything from your mood to how you see the world. This is why you should choose your inner circle carefully as it will be those very people who raise your expectations of what life should be. The right people will encourage and empower you to become the best version of yourself.

8. Journal Your Feelings

Aim to write for around five or ten minutes and put down on paper whatever pops into your head. With this activity, there is no need to monitor your thoughts. Just let them come freely as there will be time to analyze the deeper meaning behind them later. This process can be cathartic and help to reduce the intensity of some of those negative emotions.

9. Exercise

Exercise can help to release trapped emotions from your body. If you haven’t exercised in a while you could start off by doing a stretch and gentle jog on the spot. If, on the other hand, you’re keen on moving your body, then go for a run, bike ride, or any other form of exercise that gets your blood pumping.

10. Talk to Someone

Talking to the right person can really help. So, if you have an understanding friend or family member you could tell them about how you feel. Sometimes, simply sharing how you feel can help you to feel better about an issue. If, however, you would rather not tell someone you know, you could find a therapist. They may be able to help you resolve the issue that is causing distress. 

Letting go of the past is painful but you can make the choice to start the process of moving forward.

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