How to Get Over Pretty Much Anything…
Is there something you keep ruminating or obsessing about? Some event or person from the past you can’t get off your mind?
I used to ruminate about conversations. After a conversation that didn’t go the way I hoped, I’d spend days mulling it over in my head, imagining different (more intelligent/mature) things I might have said. Oh, the weeks I have wasted! Somewhere along the line I let that habit go.
I’m not talking about worrying, which is based on a fear of something in the future. Let’s put that aside and focus on letting go of something from the past that you can’t do anything to change. In a previous blog, I dealt with the emotional pieces of letting go, so today I’ll add a few cognitive strategies, assuming you’ve been through that blog and have dealt with any emotional barriers that might be in the way.
1. Thought Stopping. Learning how to control our brains is a fundamental portal to happiness. It is one of the few things that we can completely control, but the problem is we develop habits of thought that become like ruts in the road…the wheels will always gravitate to those ruts because it’s easier.
But changing our thoughts is like working a new muscle. Repetition of a different habit reinforces the new normal and change is possible.
So…When the thought comes, I invite you to do one of the following: say “stop it” out loud (that is, if you’re alone…we don’t want to create a new problem), picture a stop sign, picture the image or words in red or with a big red X through it. Say to yourself:
- That’s over
- I can’t change that
- I can’t move forward if I focus on the past
- It doesn’t help me to think about that
- Shit happened and it’s time to flush it
You get the picture. You can add any particular thoughts that might be relevant for you, like:
- I forgive myself for that
- I don’t have to be perfect
- Life doesn’t have to be perfect
- I forgive that person because the weight of anger is too heavy
- I am moving forward
Compassion for you and others is the key. I know it seems too simple, but it works…if you do it consistently.
2. Write the Story in Three Sentences.
Take the event that happened, and condense it into a Reader’s Digest version. There’s no sense going over the details continuously. Package it and put it away. Imagine you met a stranger on the street and you had to tell the story in only three sentences (and no run-on’s allowed). So when it comes into your own head, you simply tell yourself the story in those three sentences.
- …I had a job I liked. Something unfair happened that I didn’t predict and couldn’t control. I have to find a new job.
- …I fell in love with someone I thought I’d be with forever. We grew in different directions and it didn’t work anymore. I hope we both find deeper happiness.
- …I had a friend who said something hurtful. They probably regret it. I can BE the compassion and forgiveness I hope to find in others.
- …A terrible thing happened that changed my life. I need time to heal and adjust. I’ll never be alone if I let people support and love me.
It’s natural to have thoughts of regret or loss about the past. In small amounts they don’t cause a problem, but if they upset you, give these strategies a try. 🙂