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Notes from a Mental Health Nurse: Letting Go of the Past

24 March 20 illustrations: Leosaysays

Each month, our anonymous mental nurse, who has over two decades on experience working in Nottingham, will deal with a specific mental health issue with practical, accessible advice. This month, they offer tips on how to let go of the past... 

I have struggled to write about letting go and, when I reflected on why this might be, I realised it was because I am not very good at it. I’m like a cat with a ball of wool; teasing and playing with my anger or upset until it’s a bigger mess than when I started. It made me realise how flippant it can sound to be told to ‘let it go’. Banksy’s image of the girl letting go of the heart shape balloon makes it look so easy. But when you look closer, I’m sure she looks anguished and sad, or maybe that’s just my interpretation.

So, where to start? It’s important to remember that holding onto pain and sadness doesn’t fix anything. Yes, you are familiar with these feelings as they have probably been with you for a long time. Continuing to nurture these negative feelings will keep you stuck in that moment and deny you the chance to change things for the better.

Moving forward, remember that no matter how hard you try, you cannot control the actions of others. You only have control over yourself, so try not to worry about what others think.
It can be helpful to have realistic goals and expectations of yourself and others. That aside, you’re allowed to dream big. Problem solving is exploring all options, no matter how outlandish. Having your own goals will help divert attention away from life’s worries.

Expressing yourself is an important part of feeling good about yourself and your relationships. Find your voice. You deserve to be happy and experiencing pleasure is okay. Nobody is faultless, so don’t take life too seriously and learn to laugh at yourself. Surround yourself with people who care about and know you. Resentment and unwillingness to forgive will keep you locked in the past and prevent you from moving forward with your life.

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