“Never be ashamed of a scar. It simply means you were stronger than whatever tried to hurt you.” ~Unknown
People who knew me ten years ago would probably expect me to be dead now. They wouldn’t expect me to have escaped my problems. They wouldn’t expect me to have stopped drinking, drugging, taking overdoses, and cutting my arms.
People who knew me ten years ago saw a scared shell of a girl, terrified of her own shadow and on a mission to self-destruct. They wouldn’t expect me to have turned my life around completely. They certainly wouldn’t expect me to be sharing my story and helping others to let go of their struggles, too.
But then those people who knew me ten years ago didn’t know that I would find the secret to moving on from my struggles. I didn’t know it back then either; I thought that there was no hope for me, and that I would never be over my woes.
The secrets to moving on came to me slowly. It took years of suffering from anxiety and alcoholism before I found my solution, but it was worth the wait. Whatever your problems, and no matter how inescapable you think they are, the answers are always universal.
Here are six secrets to moving on from your struggles:
1. Draw a line.
When you’ve decided that you’ve had enough of suffering, of tying yourself up in the same old knots and landing up in the same dead ends, draw yourself a nice mental line to mark your decision. Everything up until now was the part of the problem, and everything from now on is a learning experience.
Use that mental page break to give yourself new courage and enthusiasm for the healing process. Leave any guilt and shame firmly in the past. Decide that no matter what happens, from now on you will do your best to break away from your negative patterns and never give up on trying.
It’s okay to screw up, to cry sometimes, or to find it hard, as long as you never move back into that space where you’re not willing to try. Let your attitude be part of the solution to your problems; focus on living, learning, and breaking free. Take at least one extra step forward every time you stumble.
2. Learn from others.
When an emotional or mental problem is holding you back, don’t try to cope with it all on your own. If you’ve ended up in a sticky place or a cycle of self-sabotage, your own thought processes and feelings will have aided and abetted you. In order to get out of the hole, you must be willing to learn from other people.
I have always found that those who have previously been down the same rabbit hole are the best people to give you advice and a helping hand. Hang onto the hope they present, learn their lessons, and see how the decisions they made have helped them to succeed in moving on.
See the patterns in others’ successes, and look for people who live the solutions. If people appear bound by bitterness and negativity, they’re probably not the ones to help you. Look for those who are truly free of their issues—the ones who you aspire to be. There is no need to struggle alone, when others can help you through.
3. Try everything.
When it comes to particular problems, you may need to get specialist help to deal with them. You may feel you have tried so much, without success, to find the solutions to your issues that you will never find an answer. I know that trap; I nearly gave up, myself, on the quest to beat my anxiety disorder.
Counseling, books, courses, pills, potions, and therapy had not provided any solutions. I had almost given up hope. I am so glad I didn’t.
The last thing I tried was something I had never considered, and it happened to be the one method that gave me back my life. Try everything; think outside the box. The answer is only irretrievable if you stop looking for it.
4. Let go.
To truly move on, you must let go of blame, resentment, and anger. Realize that negative feelings are counter-productive. However justified you feel they are, it is only hurting you to hold onto them. Forgive others so that you can be free to follow a new positive path.
Forgiving yourself is possibly the hardest part of letting go, but it’s also one of the most beneficial things you can do. Accept that you are only human, and humans make mistakes; it’s how we learn, after all. You did the best you knew how to at the time, and now you’re willing to admit it didn’t work out so well.
Stop criticizing and chiding yourself. Talk to yourself kindly, like a patient teacher, rather than a harsh taskmaster. Unkind words will only make you feel frustrated and sad, dragging you back into that negative cycle. A warm, encouraging tone will help you get the best out of yourself.
5. Do what works.
It sounds so simple, but people do what doesn’t work all the time. They wish things were different, bury their heads in the sand, or use sticking plasters that will come unstuck later on. I used alcohol to numb my anxiety disorder, not taking into account the alcohol dependence, the plummeting self-esteem, and the pancreatitis that would punish me for my choice later on.
Deal with reality to make sensible choices. Don’t allow anger, self-justification, or feelings of unfairness to stop you from doing the right thing. Sometimes the way we have to constantly battle and the things we have to do to solve our problems may feel unfair, but the alternative is staying stuck in pain and self-loathing.
Keep your end goals in mind when making decisions. Do what works on a consistent basis and you will eventually escape from your problems, making it worth the fight. The longer you keep doing what doesn’t work, the deeper the hole you will have to dig yourself out of.
6. Change your mind.
The only permanent solution to our struggles is to change the mind that creates or perpetuates them. While your problems might not be of your own making, the endless suffering that comes as a result of them is down to the way you use your mind.
It may not be your fault, but it is your responsibility to work on the way you think if you want to be free.
My own mind-set kept me stuck for many years. It refused to acknowledge the good and was responsible for a lot of negative emotions and responses. It was only by practicing over and over to refocus my mind that my feelings, and responses to life, became more positive.
Watch what you’re feeding your mind, as well. If you’re feeding it a diet of dross and negativity, don’t be surprised if it’s not all that helpful. Educate yourself, and surround yourself with good, supportive people.
Your mind and attitude are ultimately the things that can keep you stuck—or end your struggles. Learn to use them wisely, and you can overcome any problem, no matter how serious it seems. Having a supportive mind makes it much easier for you to see clearly, and to be happy and content, even in a life where challenges crop up.
Photo by Graham