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Shelley Karliner, LICSW, and Tricia Bassing, LICSW, Licensed Psychotherapists image


Shelley Karliner, LICSW

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Often we find ourselves stuck and unable to let go and move on. The possible situations we can get stuck in are endless. I can name a few and I’m sure you have many examples of your own—a relationship ends, the death of a loved one, getting older and wishing you were still young, a family feud, a fight with your friend or just being stuck in a rut.

Let’s take a closer look at the ways in which we get stuck. Someone close to us dies or a relationship ends and we feel as if we’re going to die. We grieve, we mourn, we cry, but sometimes we also stop living. We stop going out. We stop talking with our friends. We’re stuck. And when we’re stuck, we get depressed. We wonder, “how can I change the way I feel so I can move on?”

Well, I believe that’s the wrong question to ask. It’s not how can I change how I feel so I can move on—it’s how can I move on so I can change how I feel.

We can’t just change how we feel. What we can do is change what we do. By changing what we do, we change how we feel. We decide we’re going to have lunch with a friend, or we decide to start dating again. Doing something different changes everything, including how we feel.

Often when a relationship ends or someone dies, we feel guilty about the things we said or didn’t say, the things we did or didn’t do. We get stuck in our guilt and can’t move on.

While traditional psychology views guilt as an emotion attached to wrong early childhood desires, I don’t view guilt as an emotion. I think guilt is a way of believing—a way of judging things as right or wrong. If what we did was “right,” we feel good; if what we did was wrong, we feel guilty.

What if we don’t invoke those moral categories? What if we don’t go down that road?

I believe it frees us up to look at other things like “why did I say what I said in that fight?” or “why did I do what I did in that situation?”

Giving up judging ourselves and feeling guilty can free us up to see more, to understand more—about ourselves, our actions, and the complexity of our lives.

So, how do we let go and move on? We move on and let go.

I think it requires accepting who we are—divorced, widowed, unemployed—and who we are becoming—embarking on new relationships, looking for new emotional outlets, creating new directions in our lives. We allow who we are becoming—excited, interested, forgiving—to transform who we are—sad, angry, disappointed.



 Anger: What’s So Powerful About It Anyway?
 Creating the Relationships We Want
 Creating Conversation: Philosophizing at Work,
 Home and on the Playground
 On the Job and In the Director’s Chair
 Living With Loss: Letting Go and Moving On
Shelley Karliner is a psychotherapist who has helped thousands of people from all walks of life develop new emotional capacities and create healthy intimate relationships. She was trained at the East Side Institute for Group and Short Term Psychotherapy by Fred Newman, the founder of the social therapeutic approach to emotional development. She gives talks and workshops on topics related to the emotionality of everyday life.

Grow. There’s Nothing Stopping You. Feel better.

Shelley Karliner and Tricia Bassing, Licensed Psychotherapists
4115 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, Suite 203, Washington, DC 20016—202-244-0442

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