I think the most uselss piece of advice anyone can give you is that you must “move on”. This is usually with respect to a broken relationship, but could also be about a traumatic life experience such as losing a job or being in a bad accident, perhaps where someone was killed or you were seriously phyisically maimed in some way. It is useless because “moving on” is something that we naturally do as a consequence of accepting a situation as it is. We are ready when we can see something to “move on” to, but when we are still very caught up in the situation, whatever it is, we don’t see anything else – it takes up our entire being.
A much better first step is to try for acceptance. Acceptance of the situation as it currently is. You may not like it. It may not be your preferred situation. But once you accept how things actually are, this puts you more in the driver’s seat of your life. Acceptance enables you to realistically look at what you can improve.
If you’ve had a broken heart, acceptance is when you accept that the other person doesn’t want to be in a relationship with you right now, and they may never want to be in the future either. Acceptance also includes acknowledging how you contributed to the relationship break-up. It isn’t about vilifying the other person, or yourself. It’s about being as objective as possible – using an outsider’s perspective, accepting the other person’s behaviour, accepting your own, working out what you can learn from the situation, and what you would do differently in the future. Perhaps you will discover patterns of behaviour that aren’t serving you, that you would like to work on to improve. In this way, you will naturally “move on” – no one needs to tell you to.
If you’ve had a traumatic experience such as losing your job unexpectedly, you may feel hurt and resentful. You may feel that you’ve been treated unfairly. In short, you may be very much feeling like a victim. It may well be that this is the truth. Perhaps you were being bullied. Perhaps you feel that you were the victim of a campaign of being undermined by your boss, or even an underling, such that others eventually believed them and you were forced out.
This is awful, and it is right that you should allow yourself time to grieve and process. However, for your own sake, at some point you need to accept that the situation is that you are no longer in that job (and if any of the above is true, quite frankly, it sounds like it is much better for you to not be in such a poisonous environment!) Do something to help to get back your self-esteem – which is probably suffering. One of the best ways to do this is to help others. Spend a day a week volunteering, perferably where you are working directly with people so that you can directly experience the difference you are making in the lives of others, perhaps collecting and distributing toiletries to the homeless, or volunteering in a shelter for women affected by domestic violence.
Again, as with the broken relationship, look at how you may have contributed to your situation. If you can find something, think about how you can improve on that in the future. There is, of course, never any excuse for bullying, but if bullying wasn’t involved and you were let go, perhaps, for underperforming, it may be worth having a good long look at whether or not there was any truth in this claim. You will do yourself such a favour if you can acknowledge your own culpability – however small – as you will grow as a person, and do better next time.
If you have been badly injured in an accident, say, the situation is slightly different – even if you caused the accident. If you did cause the accident, you can bring yourself to a state of acceptance and, at least as importantly, forgiveness. Feeling guilty or punishing yourself for the rest of your life will not help anyone, least of all you. It happened, it cannot be undone. If there is something you can change going forward – perhaps not speeding, or allowing yourself to be distracted when doing something potentially dangerous – then acknowledge that. But then it is okay to let it go and look for things that make you happy.
We have only touched the very surface of these examples here. I know it is never as simple as what I have written above. However, focussing on acceptance (and forgiveness – for yourself and others) rather than “moving on”, could be the key for you, if you are struggling with any of these, or similar, situations.