Negative emotions like fear, guilt, anger, and resentment are tough ones to shake. We get so used to them that we stop noticing how much they paralyze our lives because when we can’t release and move on from them, that’s exactly what they do.

If there’s one positive lesson that can help everyone in recovery, regardless of their personal journey, it’s how to let go. You’ve probably heard this recommendation before, especially if you’re in a recovery program based on the 12-step philosophy. As the serenity prayer reminds us, we find peace when we accept the things we cannot change and remain focused on the things we can.

Even if you are involved in a treatment program that follows a different approach to the traditional 12-steps, knowing when to let go allows you to approach each day with a focus on your personal agency.

Interestingly, when you keep in mind that you can’t change everything, you will begin to realize other ways in which you are powerful. Anxieties, obsessions, and circular thoughts about things you can’t do anything about release their hold on you, which in turn allows you to center your real capabilities. There’s no wonder that people seeking calm, from zen Buddhists to stoic philosophers, have been honing the art of letting go for so long.

How Can I Be Better at Letting Go?

Accept the Present Moment

Have you ever sat and thought about the similarities between the thoughts that keep circling round and make you miserable? If we were to guess, we’d say they’re either related to things that happened in the past or to imagined situations in the future. We can become obsessed over things we feel we cannot control, but the thing is, in reality, we only have power over the present moment.

When we recognize this, we can refocus. What’s the plan today? What can you appreciate about what is going on right now? If you’re worried about something that hasn’t happened yet, what can you do now to prepare for it? When you ground your thoughts in this space, the weight of the past starts to lift off your shoulders, and you’ll start naturally reframing your agency over the future.

Self-Compassion

We are our own worst critics and harshest judges, and more often than not, those negative thoughts that stick around in our heads are directed back at us. It’s helpful to remember that cause and effect in the world is extremely interconnected at times like these – not everything is your responsibility, and not everything is black and white.

You can start retraining your inner dialogue to become more supportive rather than beat yourself up about mistakes you may have made. Negative thoughts like “I never learn”, “I’m always like this”, or “I’m a bad person for doing this” are not supportive. Instead, extend yourself some kindness for what was genuinely challenging you, and think about the learnings you can take with you moving forward.

Practice Mindfulness

Most forms of meditation are helpful in letting go, but there’s a reason mindfulness crops up so much. Evidence shows that this form of reflection is particularly useful in letting go of negative thoughts. It is exceptional in how it centers on self-compassion and the present moment and helps to maintain a balanced viewpoint when difficulties arise.

This system of meditation doesn’t require you to clear the mind to succeed; instead, it’s full of strategies that help you reflect on how and why you feel that way. Knowledge is power when it comes to your internal world. You will learn a lot of actionable exercises early on that will help you observe yourself without passing judgment.

Humility and Perspective

It makes sense that we’re each the center of our own worlds, but sometimes our egos hijack our minds in ways that aren’t helpful for anyone. Simply practicing humility and widening your empathetic world outward to your community can introduce valuable perspectives to the things you want to let go of. This is not to say that experiences are there to be measured or that others’ challenges invalidate your own. But, it helps to keep in mind that you aren’t the only one struggling with negative past experiences or future fears.

Letting go is a mental exercise that takes time and effort. Our minds can, unfortunately, be good at holding on to painful memories and feelings, so it’s okay to start with little things and build up from there – you’ll move onto bigger things when you’re ready. Approach your journey in letting go with the same mindful self-compassion, attention to the present, humility, and perspective that you do everything else, and let practice do its work. Keep going, keep positive, and you’ll see the difference.

Testimonials

  • Discovery Place was the answer for my son. He did the 90 day and then the step down program and sober living. We give this organization 10 stars. They met my son where he was …emotionally, mentally, physically. They helped him put his life back on track. Discovery Place employees care about their guests. If your son, brother, nephew, grandson or husband needs excellent supportive care THIS is indeed the facility.

    Kim Morton
    Alumni Parent
  • I have remained sober and it is because of DP. DP is the best place there is, hands down. I keep everyone there in my prayers, and I encourage everyone there to take what they are practicing and do it in their lives, after.

    Roy Mantelli
    Alumni
  • Over the past year, I’ve been putting into actin what Discovery Place taught me, and I have experienced a complete perspective change of the world, and the people in it. I get to be a man of service and love today, and for that I am grateful to Discovery Place.

    Matt Kassay
    Alumni
  • Discovery Place means the world to me. They showed me the tools that I’ve tried to use everyday in my life to think less often of myself, and more frequently of others. I am learning to lend a hand when I am able and to have a honest and humble relationship with God and the people around me. Not only am I clean and sober, but also I am happy and fulfilled.

    Tommy Parker
    Alumni
  • Discovery Place and the men who work there made recovery attractive, and more importantly, fun. There is strength in the struggle. I am forever grateful for my time at Discovery Place.

    Creed McClellan
    Alumni
  • When I got to Discovery Place my whole life was in shambles, but I didn’t know it. I spent 6 months in their programs, participating in all three phases, and was met with kindness and love all along the way. It is unbelievable to me, where I am now relative to where I was when I arrived at DP.

    Lance Duke
    Alumni
  • I can never say enough good things about Discovery Place and the people who work there. Before checking in to DP, I was out of options and out of answers. Fortunately, Discovery Place has a solution. Taking suggestions from the staff at DP saved my life, and as a result, I’m now more content and hopeful about life. I’m grateful for Discovery Place showing me how to live a healthy life so that I can become a better man and help the next guy.”

    Tyler Buckingham
    Alumni

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