This post was originally called ‘What I’ve had to Give Up to be Happy’ but I decided to use the word joyful instead because being happy is defined by circumstance, by situation and, at times, by others, whereas joy occurs in the absence of any particular circumstance. And all I’ve had to give up did essentially bring me joy, it made my life, including my daily life much more joyful.
Different people have different things that they perhaps want to give up to experience joy, though it’s much easier said than done. The process of removing toxic aspects of your life is painful, it can be heartbreaking, even if it does change your life. In a way, I’ve believed that a life worth living does not come easily to anyone.
Relationships – to be joyful I’ve had to give up some of the people that were present in my life, as I mentioned before, letting go of people is heartbreaking, I certainly felt like my life was ending, even if my relationships with these people were terrible, I clung on. I clung on to the point where it was doing more damage to my mental, emotional and physical well-being than good. It really did hurt every single time. Despite the pain, time was a great healer in my life, as was self-reflection and self-acceptance. I managed without these people just fine, and I still do.
“Closure happens right after you accept that letting go and moving on is more important than projecting a fantasy of how the relationship could’ve been” – Sylvester McNutt.
Unrealistic expectations – I’m a self-proclaimed perfectionist who is constantly working on breaking free from the barriers that once led my life. These included unrealistic pressures, expectations and behaviours that controlled me completely. I spent many years thinking I curated the perfect bubble around myself, little did I know I had locked everything and anything important to me out. I didn’t know who I was either. I was lost. For a very long time. Slowly but surely I decide to listen to my heart, my soul, and understand that I need to live my life, not control it. I was less harsh to myself whenever I didn’t achieve a certain goal, I’m only human after all.
“Sometimes we create our own heartbreaks through expectation.”
Negative memories – a lot of the moving on that I’ve done has been around letting go of negative/painful/and downright embarrassing memories. I was stuck in a vicious cycle where whenever I was alone at night, or any time during the day, my mind would constantly ponder over all the human experiences I’ve had. Yes, human. I believe we all have memories we wish hadn’t occurred, yet we don’t know how pivotal they might be at bringing us to where we are today. When I realised I wasn’t alone, I became more accepting of my past. Fortunately, this belief has carried me through the hardest of times.
“Let go of your mistakes and failure. You can’t do anything about the past but you can do something about right now” – Joel Esteen.
Fear of the unknown – this is one of the things I’ve struggled with letting go the most, as a person who suffers from anxiety, fearing the unknown is something that happens often. As much as I hate this, in a way, I can’t help it. My body is responding to distress. But I can choose how to respond. Instead of responding with fear I’ve now chosen to respond with acceptance. Whenever I feel likeI’m plagued with anxiety, I rationalise my thoughts. Okay, so this has happened, it’s not too much of a big deal, there are solutions, you’ll always find solutions. If not, help is around. Help-seek and you’ll find another way.
“Don’t fear the unknown. Embrace the opportunity. Failure is not permanent it is the essence of learning” – W. Brett Wilson.
This is just a small list of what I’ve let go of, I’ve learnt that letting go is a fluid process, it’s not fixed, but it’s something you can work on for the rest of your life. And I hope to bring more joy into my own life in the future too.
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