We all have that one situation that sticks with us, either because something terrible happened or because we felt embarrassed. This is a normal part of being human, but when does it become abnormal to which we still can't seem to forget something that has happened? If you still can't let go of something after years, this could be because you have trouble letting go.
- Your Negative Emotions Concern You
When something terrible happens in your life, it's expected that you will have negative emotions for a while following the event. If your event is the loss of a relationship, psychologists say the period of grieving changes based on the relationship's length and depth. So how do you know when it's gone on too long?
Simple, it's gone on too long when even you think it has. If your negative thoughts seem excessive even to you, well, then you have an issue letting go, and it may be time to seek some outside assistance.
- You Can't See Past What Happened
Maybe it's been years, but every day you wake up, and for a second, you can't believe it happened. This is very common in people who have lost a partner or a family member in a traumatic and sudden manner. If the event that occurred is still clouding your every thought throughout the day years later, then it's definitely time to admit that you may have a problem.
- You Fantasize About Other Outcomes
At first, it may be normal to ask yourself the "what ifs" of what may have happened had the outcome been different. But if you find yourself still asking about the "what ifs" months and years into the future, it's a sign that the event is still on your mind, and you haven't entirely accepted its occurrence yet. It would help if you remembered that life goes on, and there is no way to go back and change what has happened. Until you recognize this, you will never be able to move on.
- You Can't Forgive Those Involved
If the event involved someone else, say a friend or family member, and you find yourself still angry at them every time you think of them, this is a sure sign that you haven't forgiven them yet. Forgiveness is a significant part of learning to let go of the negative feelings which hurt us. Sometimes if the event you can't let go of is the death of a family member or friend, you may find that spending some time learning about who they were helps you humanize them and be able to forgive them more easily.
- You Still Haven't Forgiven Yourself
The primary sign that you are having trouble letting go of something is that you haven't yet forgiven your role in the situation. To forgive others, you will need to learn to forgive yourself first.
Venting to and having the support of family and friends can help with this step. Suppose you are still having trouble and are experiencing some of the other concerns on this list. In that case, it may be time to involve the outside help of a spiritual advisor, therapist, or other mental health professional.
No matter what the event may have been, if you find yourself having trouble letting go of something, this can be a very serious problem. If left unchecked, negative emotions wreak havoc on our well-being. If you found a lot of these red flags in your own life, it may be time to admit that you need to seek outside help to learn to let go of a situation.