The Art of Letting Go
What does it mean to let go and why does it sound like an effortless act when it’s not? To let go of something physically means to slowly release the fingers and let go of your grasp on an object. How does one do that mentally? Why isn’t is as easy? How do we apply that to non-physical experiences? We are told to “just let it go,” when something is firing us up and it seems like an almost impossible task at the time.
First and foremost, it’s essential to know the difference between letting go and avoiding or pushing away…
To avoid or push something away means that there is still a key emotion or thought connected to it that you are unwilling to experience. We tend to avoid or push away people, thoughts and experiences that we are fearful of. Perhaps there’s a chance of being hurt or let down and so we build this wall of avoidance to prevent ourselves of experiencing that. An individual that is avoiding would say something along the lines of, “I don’t want to feel this way and so I am done with _______.” If you are avoiding, you are fighting back and running away from the experience to protect yourself.
Letting go happens when we have experienced a painful emotion and we are aware that it isn’t serving us well. The key to letting go is awareness. It’s not about avoiding the emotion, but rather, are you ready to separate or distance yourself from this person, thought or experience while at the same time acknowledging this feeling behind it all? If what you are letting go of is continuously doing you more damage than good, it’s time to begin that process of accepting the emotion that has developed from it, while you separate from it. There isn’t avoidance here because you’re aware of the emotion and you’re willing to face it, but know that you need your own time away from that trigger in order to really process it. You’re giving up the fight. An individual that is letting go would say something along the lines of, “___________ is making me feel ________ and in order to really understand this feeling, I need to begin letting go.” If you are letting go, you are separating with awareness and a willingness to stay with the emotion in order to process it.
Below are two specific examples to help you begin your very own process of letting go based on your needs:
Letting go of a negative thought toward yourself:
Are you one to be pretty hard on yourself and label yourself anytime you fail or don’t meet either your or someone else’s expectations? What is it that you are insecure about and do you often find yourself labeling yourself in that way? For example, maybe you have a hard time with tests at school and so you label yourself as dumb or maybe your boss at work is telling you that you’re not delivering according to their expectations and so you label yourself as useless? OR perhaps there’s someone in your life that has negatively labeled you and you’ve included that in your judgment of yourself. Whatever your negative belief is, take a moment to reflect on where it started and how it is maintained. You can let go of that thought by understanding the underlying cause and exploring true evidence of the belief.
Letting go of a toxic relationship in your life:
If there’s a certain someone or a group of people that bring you down or mainly contribute to your life negatively, it might be time to reconsider the amount of time and energy you’re putting into the relationship(s). First, ask yourself what feeling you have most when you’re around them. Is it hurt, anger, sadness, low-self-esteem, etc? In order to really process that specific feeling or feelings, begin to slowly remove yourself. Decrease that time and energy you’re putting into it and spend more time being with yourself. Take the time with yourself to think about where else and when else you may have felt a similar way. Begin to let go, so that you can explore your position in various relationships throughout your life. If you’re finding a pattern, think about ways you can break it.
What are you ready to let go of?