I learned a valuable lesson from someone I knew years ago. This person took their time getting to know me even though I was a complete emotional mess.
I was a single mom with some pretty crappy coping skills just dragging my anxious butt through my life one woe after another. In short, I wasn’t very happy — but it wasn’t for lack of trying. Well, chasing.
I was chasing after happiness so hard, that I really had no idea how to feel happy, be happy, or accept hapiness in my own life. Perhaps you are struggling with this? Running away from happiness even though you say you want to be happy. Perhaps, you have yet to give yourself permission to move forward from some burdens you are carrying.
The life lesson
Guilt. I was buried in it. I was suffering terribly from the aftermath of a 10 year abusive marriage and the guilt of dragging my two sons through that was overwhelming me. It burdened me so deeply that I could barely breathe.
The lesson I learned from the person I met years ago has stayed with me in all the years since. Back then, the mess that I was became stunned me back into reality. It helped me shake loose the binds and begin to move around again, comfortably in my own skin. Sometimes people you know, even if only briefly, will drop nuggets of wisdom that change your life. This was one of those moments.
He asked me, “Did you do the best you could at the time?”
Yes, of course.
“Then let it go.”
Let it go
It really is that simple. What a shock, though, it was for me at the time to hear it spoken so confidently, honestly, and with kindness.
We do the best we can with the knowledge that we have at the time — and with the strength or emotional ability we have at the time.
We can’t blame ourselves for making mistakes in our brokenness. We can’t blame ourselves for not having the life lessons yet and making mistakes because of it.
You did the best you could. Now let the burden slide free and make the decision to permit joy into your life.
We can’t carry the burden of our past mistakes into our present because it denies us our current happiness. Happiness doesn’t have as a prerequisite: thou shalt be guilt and sin-free before you deserve happiness.
“Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.”
― Abraham Lincoln
Happiness is a choice. Live it like a verb.
Happiness is a lifestyle choice not interdependent on circumstance, either present or past. Give yourself the permission you need to move forward without the weight of the past.
Healthline.com advises that unhealed emotional pain from the past hinders our ability to move forward and live healthy lives. The experts cited advise to practice mindfulness, distance yourself from people or situations that are hurting you, and process the pain you are feeling. Pain can come in waves that we must manage or shut down. The more you try to close off the pain, mask it, or pretend it is not there, the more the pain will cause you to become "stuck" in your life.
It is very difficult to move forward and choose happiness when you carry burdens from the past. Do the work to allow you to process and release those burdens and choose a happier day for tomorrow. When you learn how to process your own pain in a healthy way, you will find it burdens you less. Much like training for a sport allows you to perform those actions with confidence and efficiency. With practice, it gets easier, you have more stamina and ability to perform your daily tasks, you suddenly become more mindful of the feel of sun on your face.
You become ready for happiness.
“The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.”
It really is simple — you may have to release multiple times when the shadow of the past creeps in, but it gets easier the more you do it. Happiness gets easier the more you practice it. The end result is healing.