Stop Trying to Change Your Life by Changing Your Thoughts


By Tina Gilbertson

It doesn’t work.

You already know this. You’ve told yourself a hundred times to think about it a different way. Or you’ve tried not to think about it at all, that thing that happened that you can’t seem to let go of.

Your thoughts are not the problem.

Your feelings (which you’re trying to change by changing your thoughts) are not the problem.

The problem itself is the problem. The thing that made you feel bad, THAT’S the problem.

Your feelings are a natural outcome of what happened. Your thoughts are trying to manage the feelings, but only because you can’t change what actually happened.

You think because you can’t change the past, you have to change how you feel about it in order to feel better.

It’s a good idea, but unfortunately (as you know), it doesn’t work.

And it’s not because you’re not good enough at it. It’s not because you have to try harder. It’s not because you’re a “negative” person.

The real reason it doesn’t work is because you can’t make feelings that are already there, not be there. You can’t make them go away by changing your thoughts, your attitude, your underwear or anything else.

So what can you do to manage the things you can’t change? How can you get out from under the cloud of what happened and start feeling better again?

The answer is simple but it’s hard work. Harder even than trying to control your thoughts.

There’s only one way to truly heal and to free up all that frozen energy that’s locked inside the memory of what happened.

You must feel the hurt until it doesn’t hurt anymore.

It’s not a popular view, but it is the truth. Embracing pain is a process for people who want results, rather than a temporary balm that feels good now but doesn’t address the real problem.

If you’ve still got feelings about what happened… if you’re still thinking about what happened… it’s a sign of unprocessed, unhealed pain.

Feeling is healing

Just feel what you feel. Cry or yell into a pillow. Do what comes naturally. Feel sorry for yourself.

Don’t involve any other living thing if what you feel is violent or aggressive.

I promise you, you’ll find if you pay attention that actual emotional pain is always temporary. On the other side, there’s relief.

Once you’ve fully processed the pain of what happened you’ll be free of it. Permanently.

Until then, you can waste the years trying to get better at positive thinking, never fully healing, constantly searching, maybe eventually falling into depression.

I don’t wish that on anybody. Please revisit your loss or injury, even if it feels like going backwards. It isn’t; it’s the only way forward.

If it feels too scary, find a counselor or friend who can hold a safe space for your pain.

You don’t have to do it alone. But if you want to heal the pain once and for all, you have to turn back around and face it.

The only way out is through.