How many times a day do you hear the phrase:
“LET IT GO”?
I don’t know about you, but even me, as a professional that uses this phrase often in my practice, am getting sick of hearing it and frankly stopped using it.
This phrase is SO overused that it has lost its meaning and the power it holds when used correctly.
The trendiest of mantras of the mindfulness era is being used so casually and carelessly that it almost feels like an insult, a demand, or a judgment. For some, it’s a way of saying, “I have no time for your BS, just let it go and let me be.” Or “I don’t like it when you are in pain, and I want your old self back, so let that Sh*t go!” Or, “I am tired of your constant bickering, so LET IT GO!”
The burden of letting go is weighing us down and making us feel guilty on top of everything else that we are feeling.
This is how it plays in other our mind:
I have a problem that is making me sad, angry, lonely, depressed, (fill in the blank___)
This feeling is consuming me and is limiting me to function at my best
You are telling me to “let it go.”
Now I have an additional worry on top of my negative feeling
Instead of dealing with the original feeling, I am also feeling inadequate, worried, and stressed about not being able to let go of my first feeling, which is now causing me more stress…
Is your head spinning yet? Yup, Mine is too!
I know I need to “let it go,” but what the heck does that even mean, and how do I “let it go?”
Do I snap my fingers and poof it in the air? Do I release it in the air like releasing a helium balloon? Is there a how-to manual for letting it go? Or is there a five-step program that teaches you how to?
When we ask people what do you mean when you tell someone to “let it go,” most often the reply is, “they just need to stop thinking about it.”
Ok, fair. But HOW?
This is where things get tricky, and if not dealt with care and proficiency, you can go on a downward spiral really fast.
Because we were not taught how to let go and how to stop thinking about the pain we have, we deal with it the only way we know-how.
We numb the pain.
We self -medicate, we use drugs, we drink excessively, we become workaholics, we get addicted to sex and porn, we burry ourselves in busy work and avoid the pain in any way possible.
But guess what?
How long can you hold a beach ball underwater, before it explodes up to the surface, smacking you right in the face?
Same goes with your pain; you can’t merely burry it and wish it to go away.
We are going to get to the how-to in a minute, but first a side note! Some of us are married to our pain to our suffering to our wounds. We hold it inside like a trophy to say I was wronged; I am in pain, I feel unjust. We think that if we let the pain go, we are justifying or lessening the wrongdoer’s actions. We hold the pain inside to show the other person how much they hurt us and hope by seeing us suffer; they would change.
Think about this for a second; how is that working for you?
It’s like keeping a knife inside your stomach to show the knife thrower of his or her dreadful action. Who is suffering here? Who is bleeding here? You or them?
So just let it go…( Pun intended!)
Now back to how to let it go!
The good news is that letting go is a process. We can indeed, with practice, learn to master it.
Letting go is ALL about being realistic.
Before we dive into understanding what it means to let go, first, let’s examine what it is NOT.
Holding on is the opposite of letting go. Holding on is bargaining with what the reality is.
It is asking why and looking for ways to make sense of the situation. It is to blindly wish a different outcome and hope things were different.
Holding on means that that negative thought or the painful feeling is right at the center of our attention. We are re-thinking, re-playing, and ruminating the thought on the big screen of our mind’s eye. We give it energy to consume us and to drag us down by evoking the thought into the NOW. We become one with the pain and loyally do everything in our power to keep it alive.
We hold on to the negative thought by narrating and a story around the painful feeling and exaggerate the suffering by repetitively reiterating it in our mind.
This is exhausting, not to mention ineffective and self-destructive.
What is the alternative?
Being real and present with was is. Recognizing and accepting the reality of the situation and not pretending the pain doesn’t hurt. It is to take personal responsibility, allowing ourselves to grieve, learn from the pain, press the reset button, and begin again.
It is moving forward regardless of the urge to stay stagnant.
Realizing that at any given moment, we have a choice. Understanding that we ONLY have the power to change ourselves and NO ONE else. And that we are responsible for caring and protecting ourselves first and foremost.
This is how we begin the process of LETTING GO.
Letting go is not avoidance or denial; it is to realistically look at the situation and actively deciding to move forward to a new beginning.
LETTING GO is you, courageously moving forward amidst the pain.