If we’re not careful, we will get obsessed with mistakes we’ve made in the past.
It’s not that we want to get stuck on those mistakes.
It’s not even that we think, rationally, that we can go back and do things over. We know we can’t.
Yet…when we think about the past, we struggle to accept that it actually happened.
We struggle to accept that we made the decisions we did.
We struggle to accept that the people in our lives responded as they did.
And we get paralyzed.
In the front of our minds we may “know” we need to move forward— but emotionally, we just can’t seem to move on.
In the back of our minds, we hold on to the hope that somehow, someway, we can “correct” the thing that went wrong.
We think that if we just REFUSE to accept that reality was what it was and happened like it did, that we can somehow will it out of existence.
The truth is, moving on is tougher than we think.
When someone tells us to just “move on,” they assume that moving on is something that should be obvious how to do, or easy to do.
It is neither.
How do we accept that we were abused or neglected by the people who were supposed to love and support us the most?
How do we accept that we let opportunities and relationships slip through our fingers— and they’re gone forever?
If you look around, you’ll see many people actively refusing to accept that reality is as it is.
You’ll see plenty of people pretending that what happened, didn’t.
You’ll see plenty of people trying to behave as if the world is fundamentally the same as it was before whatever happened, happened.
As long as we continue to deny and disown reality, we can’t really grow emotionally.
We can’t really be free. We can’t really create the life we want to create.
So we need to get curious about what skills and tools are necessary to really accept that what happened, happened.
First thing’s first: we need to be able to handle the emotions that come with acceptance.
Many people refuse to accept reality because they don’t think they can handle the feelings that will come with it.
Identifying and coping with feelings such as anger and grief require tools and skills such as containment, self-nurturing, verbalization, and trauma processing.
They can be learned, and they can be used— but they don’t get learned and used by accident.
We have to set out with the intention to learn and use the appropriate skills.
Moving on also requires us to use the cognitive skills of reality testing, reframing, and shifting to task-oriented cognitions.
Often we need to use the skill of behavior activation to get out of a slump and back into our lives.
Why is any of this important?
Because you NEED to know that you don’t have to stay stuck.
You don’t have to deny reality.
No matter how upsetting what happened was, you CAN learn and use the proper skills to deal with it.
And in so doing, you can kickstart your way out of denial.
Which is the only real path to genuine growth and lasting happiness.
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