Ahhhh, the fine art of letting something go. It’s not easy. I like to think of it as a process, rather than an art. Less pressure.
For years I told myself I have to let it go when it comes to (insert crappy thing that happened here). And then life brings you another situation, often similar to the one you have tried to let go of, and reminds you that you truly haven’t. It could be a text, a picture, or someone’s action/reaction/or lack thereof – that could trigger a reminder of (insert crappy thing that happened here) that you really have not let go of.
I can assure you of this:
Just because you say you let it go, doesn’t make it so.
If you still feel anger when thinking about it – you haven’t let it go. If you still judge the situation – you haven’t let it go. If you still blame someone else – you haven’t let it go. If you avoid conversations about it – you haven’t let it go. And especially if it’s all you talk about when you are drinking wine with your besties – you haven’t let it go!
So how do you know when you have truly let go of something?
When you are at peace with it. When you have truly forgiven. When you have compassion for the situation and the people/things involved. When you see the gifts it has brought you and your heart has opened because of it.
To let go of something, it’s important to know that there isn’t one magical formula that works for everyone. It’s about doing something rather than nothing because the Universe is always moving – and so should you in order to keep moving forward. It’s about discovering what works for you, and in the process, you should feel relief – like the weight of the world is being lifted from your shoulders.
Here is what has worked for me – in no particular order.
Practice letting go of the little things. I love playing baseball and I can be slightly… ok highly competitive. When an ump makes a bad call, I used to totally let it piss me off. It would affect my performance and ultimately my entire team. I had this unrealistic expectation that an ump, that is only making $15 an hour, is supposed to be perfect. It’s a game. It’s supposed to be fun. So I lighten up and laugh at bad calls now. (Most of the time 😉 )
Become aware of what you are holding on to. Neale Donald Walsch said “You cannot let go of anything if you cannot notice that you are holding it. Admit your ‘weaknesses’ and watch them morph into your greatest strengths.”
Listen to your heart. When you come from a place of love, it can be the most empowering way to deal with shitty situations. Ask yourself – what would love do? Would love get angry? Would love harm another? And then try to see the situation from other perspectives. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Consider other possibilities as to why this is happening. When I need to ask my heart some serious questions like ‘what do I choose now?’ I prefer to head into nature. Sitting by a tree, paddling on the water, putting my feet in the sand or just listening to the waves roll in have a way of bringing me the answers I seek.
Feel it. Honour how it has made you feel. Cry it out. Get angry. But make sure you give it a time limit so it doesn’t consume you. If you need something tangible to show you have released the negative feelings – write about it, paint something, do a workout – anything to release the stress of negative thoughts and feelings. Whatever you do, don’t hold it in. Stifling emotions will not help you let it go. It will seep out into other areas of your life, even when you think you are hiding it.
Be kind to yourself. Whenever something negative happened to me, I used to immediately blame myself. I would hop on the merry-go-round of the mind and allow it to take me down. I would even go as far as pushing happiness away, thinking I didn’t deserve it. Everything is a gift, positive or negative. It’s an opportunity to grow and expand. Call your girlfriend that is always on your side, take a day at the spa, repeat positive affirmations/mantras, say no – to anything that doesn’t make you feel good. This way you will have the energy it takes to deal with letting it go.
Talk about it. The absolute best way to talk about it is with the actual person involved in the situation. It’s going to be freakin’ scary because you have no control over their reactions. But you do have control over how you deal with it. Plan out what you are going to say. If it’s not possible to talk to the person directly or you just aren’t ready, then have a look in the mirror and have a chat with yourself. I totally recommend talking with a friend about it; just make sure it’s your friend that is the good listener and one that you can laugh about the situation with rather than one that tends to give a ton of advice and opinions. You want to be sure how you chose to deal with it, is your decision.
Forgive. This is the absolute, most important. I recently went to see a Medium. And of course, my mother was the soul reason for the visit. The Medium shared with me that my mom is worried about whether we have fully forgiven each other. She taught me that forgiveness involves 4 ways:
I give myself permission to forgive _____________.
I give ________ permission to forgive me. (Make sure you are taking responsibility for your part in the situation.)
I give _________ permission to forgive themselves.
I give myself permission to forgive myself. Don’t skip this step – remember what I said about being kind to your self?
The ego wants us to hold on to our pain and suffering because it gives us an identity, but spirit wants us to continue creating higher versions of ourselves. When you are at a point where something no longer serves you, make a commitment to letting go. It will liberate you.