Give Yourself Seven Seconds

When a man named Jeff Goldblatt was having trouble getting over an ex-girlfriend, he created a way to help move his own progress forward. From that small beginning in 2005, March 9th has evolved into a day devoted to getting something trivial off your mind by posting it on social media using the hashtag #NationalGetOverItDay.

Ok, let’s take a step back for a moment.

If you’re like me, your first response to the name of this day is a little bit of simmering outrage. There’s something in that message, no matter how well-intentioned, that feels judgemental. Being told to “get over it” carries a feeling of admonition, with the subtext being that you shouldn’t have let this bother you in the first place. Even though this day is meant to deal with trivial matters, I wish it were presented in a less aggressive and confrontational way.

We talk a lot about the lasting impact one brief gesture of kindness can have, but sometimes we forget that negative interactions, even those considered “trivial” can also have that same wide-reaching effect. The casual unkind comment or the small gesture of exclusion…it’s easy to focus in on these slights, giving them the power to take on greater meaning over time. Sometimes it is our own small mistakes that stay with us the longest, keeping us up at night as they replay in our heads over and over.

Might I gently suggest that we see this day as less of a directive and more of an opportunity?  Let’s use National Get Over It Day to stop beating ourselves up over whether or not something should bother us. Instead of wasting energy feeling guilty or ashamed for letting something trivial get under our skin, accept that it has and let go of these small things. Doing so requires two steps: first, a guilt-free acknowledgement of the hurt involved and second, giving ourselves permission to let go of that pain.

I once read an article* that focused on an intriguing technique. It said that if you make a small mistake, give yourself seven seconds to think about it and then let it go. This approach has stuck with me over time, becoming a valuable asset in my toolkit. It appeals to me because it doesn’t start with the idea that you are wrong to let that small mistake upset you.

Every time we say like “I know I shouldn’t let that bother me” or “it was just a dumb little thing” we downplay our true feelings. Instead, accept that yes, this was something too painful simply to brush off. I know what you’re thinking: there’s no way seven seconds can make a difference. I doubted that too, but I’ve found that allowing myself to focus on the embarrassment that comes along with the mistake is the key to moving past it. By dealing with it head-on instead of trying to convince myself it doesn’t matter, I’m better able to quickly but fully acknowledge it. Once I’ve done that, it’s a lot easier to put it in perspective and then let it go.

In honor of National Get Over It Day, I will devote seven seconds today to the weirdly-worded question I can still hear myself asking in a dog training class eight years ago, and another seven seconds to the tongue-tied, nearly nonsensical voicemail I left when I was trying to schedule an appointment, and maybe another seven seconds to the time I cried in Target when a woman spoke rudely to me because my cart was in her way.

By taking control of how you process these events, you eliminate the power of small things to pile up and drag you down. It can be as simple as reframing your thinking from “I shouldn’t let this bother me” to “this did bother me but now I am letting it go.” National Get Over It Day may officially be on March 9th, but freeing yourself from the weight of these slights and mistakes is a gift you can give yourself any day of the year.




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