Everyone says ‘just let it go,’ but no one tells you how to do it. That’s because moving past negative emotions is harder than anyone likes to admit. People bounce back from negative emotions at their own pace. However, if we hold on to feelings of sadness or anger for too long they morph into resentment. Over time, resentment will hold us back personally and professionally.

Clinging to resentment is like hoarding negativity. You know it’s useless, but you’re up to your eyeballs in it and can’t let go. This is because most people have a tendency to cling to negative emotions as a faulty coping mechanism. We spend far more time dwelling on how we have been wronged than thinking of how we have wronged other people. Resentment allows us to preserve our own mental image of ourselves as “the good guy,” regardless of our past behavior.

What we think is what we become. Acknowledging our thoughts, taking responsibility for our decisions, and learning to break the cycle of negative thought patterns is a practiced, learned skill. Learn how to ‘let it go’ with these helpful suggestions.

How to 'Let It Go'

5 Steps to Overcome Resentment and ‘Just Let It Go’

1. Dig deep for empathy.

Oftentimes people hurt others because they have been hurt in the past. People can only give what they’ve got. If they are unaccustomed to positive influences like love, friendship, or trust, they won’t learn how to value them. You don’t have to let toxic people back into your life to have empathy for them. When we have empathy for those who have hurt us, we discover our own gratitude for the positive influences in our own lives.

2. Look for lessons.

Sometimes people come into our lives for a reason or a season. Look back at your damaged friendship and try to find the “upside” to having that person in your life. Did they help you overcome a hardship? Did you learn something from them? Did they introduce you to other friends? Difficult as it may be, acknowledging any good in the relationship will help you move past the hurt by breaking your cycle of negative thoughts.

3. Take responsibility for your choices.

As horrible as it is when people hurt you, thinking of yourself as a victim is not positive or uplifting. For example, many people blame their current situation in life on their parents or early negative experiences. The energy spent dwelling on the past and cultivating resentment would be more constructively spent by living the present. As adults, we can choose to make changes in our lives that will course-correct negative influences. Taking responsibility for your life and your choices is empowering. Choose to use your time and your energy in productive, positive ways that lift you up.

5 Steps to 'Let It Go'

You can’t stop yourself from thinking negative thoughts or dwelling on the past, but you can control how you perceive these thoughts and react to them with mindfulness meditation.

4. Think of forgiveness as a life raft.

You certainly don’t have to schedule a face-to-face with the individual who wronged you to forgive them. Simply forgiving them in your heart and mind is enough to pull you out of your downward spiral. Think of negativity and resentment pulling you down into the depths of the ocean and forgiveness is your life raft. Harness the empathy you cultivated for your wrongdoer in the first step. Remember the valuable lessons you learned from this relationship. Now make a promise to yourself to not let thoughts of this person harm you in your present.

5. Quiet your restless mind.

You can’t stop yourself from thinking negative thoughts or dwelling on the past, but you can control how you perceive these thoughts and react to them. Mindfulness meditation teaches us how to observe our thoughts passively and without judgement. This is an invaluable tool for preventing feelings of resentment. When you find yourself caught in a downward spiral of negative thoughts, try this guided 3-minute meditation to ground yourself through your breath and quiet your restless mind.

To learn how to start a meditation practice and for more ideas on how to bring mindfulness into your everyday life, visit avsmindfulness.com. Check back for the upcoming release of our premium mindfulness meditation app!