Q. For some reason I can never let anything go. I will do the best I can to explain my problem. Every time I have an issue about something that someone has done, I keep at it until it turns into an explosive argument. I remember growing up and watching my mother do the same thing. For example, if my husband says something that bothered me, that after thinking about it was truly not a big deal, I keep harping on it until it literally has me in tears in the bathroom. I will begin to curse, and scream even though no one is cursing and screaming at me. I have tried not to act this way, and in the end I always feel terrible, but I have no idea how to control it. I want to get help, but i don’t know where to begin. Is there any way you can help me figure out what’s wrong, this way I can get help for it? Thanks for reading.
A. This can be a very serious problem. This behavior has the potential to drive people out of your life. By acting this way, you make it difficult for your husband, family members or friends, and so forth to be around you. You need to learn how to let things go, and when it is appropriate to let things go and when it is not appropriate to let things go (believe it or not, it is not always appropriate to let things go; sometimes situations need to be “kept alive” until they are resolved).
As you mentioned, this was probably a behavior or style of interacting with people that you learned from your mother. The good news is that this learned behavior can be unlearned and you absolutely have the power to change it. You already recognize this behavior as a problem and this is a very good first step. My suggestion for you is that if you find it difficult to stop this behavior then try seeing a therapist who can work with you directly on how to change this behavior. A therapist can not only teach you how to stop acting in this manner, but he or she can help you learn a more appropriate way to interact with people and this can certainly improve your relations with others. I hope this helps. Take care.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 3 Oct 2007
Randle, K. (2007). How do I learn to let things go?. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 9, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2007/10/03/how-do-i-learn-to-let-things-go/