How-toSome relationships are particularly pernicious. We often develop relationships out of convenience, without considering the traits necessary to build a successful bond with another person—important traits like unwavering support, shared trust, and loving encouragement.

We’ve all held on to someone who didn’t deserve to be there, and most of us still have someone in our lives who continually drains us: Someone who doesn’t add value, someone who isn’t supportive, someone who takes and takes and takes without giving back, someone who contributes very little, and prevents us from growing, someone who constantly plays the victim.

Letting go means confronting these invisible emotional barriers: bringing them into your awareness and then struggling against them. It means challenging irrational, unproductive thinking until you get your head on straight; it means facing up to your fear and then calling on your courage and your character to face it down; and it means confronting your passionate attachment to a past love and reducing it from a boulder to a pebble. Put the pebble in your pocket as a cherished reminder, and leave room in your heart for something new.

It’s hard to let go of the past in the absence of a positive view of tomorrow. You need a vision of the future. An investment in, a distraction through or an excitement about something ahead will supply the energy and the will to push you beyond the past. Creating it requires deliberate mental focus.

Fortunately, this needn’t be the case: several actions can be taken to rid ourselves of negative relationships:

  1. Practice releasing regrets.
  2. Work on forgiving yourself.
  3. Don’t think about any time as lost.
  4. Remember the bad as well as the good.
  5. Reconnect with who you are outside a relationship.
  6. Create separation.
  7. Let yourself feel.
  8. Remember the benefits of moving on.
  9. Recognize and replace fearful thoughts.
  10. Embrace impermanence.

Nobody’s life should be defined by their pain. It’s not healthy, it adds to our stress, it hurts our ability to focus, study and work, and it impacts every other relationship we have (even the ones not directly affected by the hurt). Every day you choose to hold on to the pain is another day everybody around you has to live with that decision. And feel its consequences.

So do everybody — and yourself — a big favor: Let go of the pain. Do something different today and welcome happiness back into your life.

Maryam Riaz
Clinical Psychologist
Willing Ways, Islamabad