Almost all of us have a history of hitting brick walls at some time in our lives. We find ourselves feeling confined, stuck, and trapped. Helpless, with no way out. Defeated and on the verge of giving up. We feel like we’ve tested all the possibilities already, and none of them work. It’s as though every time we try to escape, we hit that wall again. As a result, we’ve lost faith in ourselves, others, and life itself. Sure, I know what’s around that corner, the defeated think. Just another brick wall.
Getting unstuck can be tricky business. And don’t let anyone try to convince you it’s not. It usually happens in small increments and subtle movements. You don’t have to think radically; it doesn’t always mean quitting your job, leaving your spouse and family, or going to India to live in an ashram. It’s best to start small. With a deep breath. And a reaffirmation.
What would it look like if, step by step, you began to free yourself of the guilt, fear, anger, anxiety, and harsh self-criticism that imprison you? And to open to those greater possibilities, bit by bit? What might be the first step to getting rid of whatever is hurting you and holding you back? What would it take for you to begin to believe in yourself and to dream once again?
Here’s the key: You’ve got to clear the air! Get it out and let it go! For many years, I’ve been using a “clearing exercise” my clients tell me is their favorite. Why? Because it clears the air of emotions like anger and frees them to actually move forward. Especially in their most intimate relationships. It’s a natural energy boost.
Step 1: Write down 25 things you’re angry (even furious) about. Direct your comments at a specific individual or group. If it’s yourself you’re angry at, direct the comments toward you. Each sentence begins with the words, “Screw you for . . .” Your job is to complete the sentence, holding nothing back! Don’t mince words (even if you’ve been taught it’s not okay to talk this way). Let ’em have it! Give ’em hell for what they did, or didn’t do. And don’t let up until you reach 25. After you’re done writing them out, read them aloud, like you are actually saying these things to the person. This is an essential step for “clearing.” You may be surprised at just how much anger you’ve been carrying around all this time.
Step 2: After you’ve finished clearing your anger (harmlessly acknowledging the emotions you’ve been carrying around inside), get ready for step 2 of this exercise. In this step, your job is to give thanks—instead of hell—to the same individual or group. If you’re ready to go, get started, but if you need to take a break feel free to take whatever time you need.
Once you’re ready, begin each sentence with “Thank you for . . .” and list 25 things you’re grateful for. Whether they’re big or little things, get everything you’re grateful for out on the table (and don’t be surprised if you shed a few tears in the process).
Step 3: Now read your list aloud as if the person were really there. Expressing your gratitude can elicit very intense feelings, and long-forgotten memories that serve as helpful reminders. Telling someone what they really mean to you can be very freeing.
This exercise is designed to clear and open your heart. It may inspire you to actually sit down and clear your emotions with somebody. Or to tell someone how grateful you are. Your reason for clearing the past with someone should be considered carefully. As should your expectations—and your approach. Healing and reconciliation are good reasons. Retribution and punishment are not.
Expressing the depth of our emotions, from rage to gratitude, helps us reconcile the painful past, even if only in our own hearts and minds, and clear the path for an uncluttered future.
Clearing the air with ourselves, and getting unstuck, almost always begins with self-compassion and kindness. A gentle acceptance that we are all a work in progress and recognition that there is no benefit in beating ourselves up for the past, the present, or for an unsecured future. If there’s to be a better life ahead, you must learn to be truly kind to yourself. To be encouraging and patient with yourself. To disarm the critic and silence the admonitions. To diffuse the guilt. To take a deep breath, clear the air of deeply held resentments and change the tone of your voice to patient and encouraging. To let go of some part of the painful past every day, and slowly step into the warm light of your life—and its greater possibilities.
Ken Druck, Ph.D., founder of The Jenna Druck Center in San Diego, is a grief and resilience expert, speaker, organizational and family consultant, and award-winning author of several books including, The Real Rules of Life (Hay House). Follow Ken’s blog or find him on Facebook.
This has been excerpted from The Real Rules of Life, copyright Dr. Ken Druck. If you like this article, please share it!