When I was still working in clinical practice as a behavioral therapist, I would often have my patients say to me that their number one issue (in terms of their mental health condition) was the amount of stress they were hanging on to in their life. Always I would get the same comment-“I CAN’T let this go.” The fact is that, they can. They were just choosing not to because for some reason they believed that holding on to it did something for them. But, in reality, aren’t we all like that? We think that holding on to that stress so tightly or that grudge so closely somehow means that we can control it and then destroy it? In fact, the opposite happens-it controls us and we are left depressed and anxious.
My advice always to my patients, and will be to my children as they age, is to let go of what stressors will not pass the test of time. Meaning, what things will truly matter in the long run. I remember very vaguely being upset with other girls my age during the junior high and high school years. But is that of any consequence to my life now that I am 30? Of course not. However, how much emotional energy did I spend on it at the time? The answer: WAY too much! And we do that all even as adults. We let the idiot who cut us off in traffic or the family member who criticized us on Facebook to ruin our day. When really, will we remember that exact moment? Is is really life shattering? Of course not, but we hang on. And that stress, frustration and bitterness becomes us until we can be clinically given the title of “depressed” or “anxious” or “angry.”
So, my friends, I would suggest that you use this very simple but very powerful technique which I have called “The Rule of 10.” I have no doubt that others in my field have developed similar ideas and have used similar techniques. But I like the simplicity of this format. What you will do is when you are finding yourself stressed or angry, to think to yourself “Is this something I will truly care about and will truly still impact my life greatly in 10 days, 10 months and 10 years?” If you cannot answer a resounding YES to all three of those time frames, then the thing you are so upset about is not life altering and needs to be let go. Work out how to do that and put it in the “temporary stressor pile.” Do not let it become you. If the issue is something that meets this criteria, than it is certainly worth your emotional energy and should be addressed. But should be done with the assistance of a friend, pastor or counselor. Most of the issues in life will fall into the category of “temporary stressor.” Using this technique will help you to sort it all out and stress/worry/become angry far less than you are used to.
I would challenge you to spend the next 30 days trying this out and see if you can find a difference in how you perceive and react to the world. Best of luck and I would ask you to please continue all you can do to strive towards healthy living. Emotionally healthy living.