Can you relate to any these situations?
Your friend is treating you in a different way than they used to. Maybe they said some hurtful things or lashed out at you or they are pulling away from you.
You have a teenager who is making poor choices. You are concerned that the choices will cause him or her harm and will result in negative situations in the future.
You have an adult son or daughter who didn’t heed the wisdom you gave them and now you grieve to see them suffer the consequences of their choices.
You have a spouse or other family member who persists in self destructive behavior.
A friend or family member let you down because they did not follow through on a commitment they made to you.
There are many variations of these scenarios when someone’s choices cause you disappointment.
What do you do?
The situation is out of your control and yet it’s affecting you because you care about the other person’s welfare. Maybe their choices even caused you harm.
You know you cannot control them and yet it’s difficult to let go.
Here’s 7 steps to help you deal with your disappointments and to let go.
1. Recognize that the only person you can control is you. As much as you would like, you simply cannot control another person’s choices. You can influence them. You can warn them. You can share your wisdom with them. If they are teenagers living with you, you can set up consequences but you cannot control them. Sometimes you have to let the ones you love make mistakes so they will learn and grow.
2. Acknowledge your feelings of anger, frustration, distress, anxiety and sadness. Whatever you may be feeling, own your feelings. Whenever someone makes poor choices, not only do they lose, you lose too. There is a normal grieving process you go through whenever you experience loss. Recognize that and let yourself have those feelings. This will also trigger issues for you that you need to deal with so it helps to realize this is an opportunity to grow.
3. Process your feelings. Call a trusted friend or adviser or email them. Or pull away to a quiet place where you can write and think to process your feelings.
4. Do something else physical. I know a friend who when she’s upset, she cleans. I would like to have that kind of reaction. LOL. There may be other physical activities that work for you. Maybe it’s focusing on a task or work. There’s something about doing something else you can control that helps you begin to deal with what you can’t control.
5. Do something fun or creative. This can get your mind off the situation and bring refreshment and sometimes while you do these other things, solutions come to you.
6. Let go and let God. Pray and ask God shed His light on the situation, to give you wisdom to help you understand yourself and the other person. Trust that God is going to work for your good and for the good of other person. Even mistakes can be used for good as lessons are learned from experiencing consequences. Ask Him to bring your heart to a place of peace and rest and to help you to let go. Ask trusted friends to pray.
7. If the circumstance or person allows it, share your thoughts, feelings and concerns with them. Sometimes things are too volatile to share in person. Then you can write an email or letter and send it or give it to the person. This helps you to process it and to let it go. Other times, it’s not wise to continue to engage with the person. If you cannot give the letter to them or it’s not wise to do so, write it anyway and keep to yourself. It will help you process your own thoughts and feelings and bring clarity to you.
These steps will start you on the road of letting go of what you can’t control and taking responsibility for what you can control. You may be able to process through these steps quickly and move on.
However if you are deeply involved and their choices affect you significantly, it can take some time. Give yourself that time. Keep on going through the steps above until you can let go. Then you will find a place of peace in your own heart.
“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” I Peter 5:7 (NIV)