As we enter the holiday season, stress can mount, and we may find ourselves falling back on habits that pull us down. One of those is clinging to unhealthy attachments.
Whether it’s negative thinking at work that keeps us from excelling and enjoying our job, a way of communicating to our colleagues that prevents true teamwork, or how we spend our off-hours that ensures we’re not at our best either professionally or personally, it can pay to unclench and let go. The truth is, there is far more power in letting go than in clinging to something, even if it feels like the opposite.
Here are some suggestions on learning how to recognize when you’re dealing with an unhealthy attachment or behavior, and how to release it gracefully:
Pay attention to your feelings.
If something you’re doing doesn’t make you feel good, it may not be good for you. Yes, there are some things you must grin and bear, but if a particular thought pattern, relationship, or activity is dragging you down day after day, then it’s time to move on. Your feelings can serve as a worthy barometer to indicate when change is needed in your life. Tune in, listen, and take action accordingly.
Just recognizing that something feels off may not be enough to convince you to let go of it. In such cases, it can help to dig beneath the surface and seek understanding of why you might be doing certain things. Do you believe that your decision to take a certain action or repeat particular choices is benefitting you in some way? Are you afraid of the consequences if you try to release it? Does continuing in the same pattern give you a feeling of control, even if the pattern isn’t working for you? If you can get behind the “why” of your actions, you’ll be better prepared to make changes.
See a better outcome.
If you need motivation to let go of something, try to visualize what you might gain by releasing it. Often when it comes to moving on, we think only of what we could lose rather than imagining what we could gain. For example, if you feel that you’re bringing negativity to work and it’s affecting your interaction with colleagues, think about what it might feel like to come to the office with a more upbeat mindset. Your work relationships might improve, resulting in more effective collaboration, and ultimately better outcomes for both you and your team members. That’s something that might be worth letting go of a bad habit to achieve.
It can be hard to make changes in a vacuum, without others to help you through it. If you’re trying to let go of something that has been important to you, seeking support from others can ease you through the transition. Consider telling someone you trust about the changes that you’re making. If there’s no one at work who is appropriate to tell, then talk to a friend or family member. Ask them to help provide feedback on your progress, based on observing changes in you as you go through the process of releasing a bad habit or behavior that you no longer want to own. You can support yourself, too, by rewarding yourself for getting better at unclenching.
Acknowledge the steps you’re taking, even if you don’t succeed immediately. Keep practicing letting go until you’ve reached the outcome you desire.