What Letting Go Looks Like
If you are an avid ready of what I guess is called self development, you have probably heard over and over how you need to ‘let go’. All well and good, but as with most things in books, not so easy to do. How do you let go ? What does it look like ? Because if you don’t know what it looks like how can you create it ?
How do you let go ?
It really is that simple!
To let go you have to stop holding on!
Do you even know you are holding on never mind how you are doing it ? For me holding on is obsessive thinking. I find myself reliving the same conversation by the frustrating work colleague (and who doesn’t have at least one of those). I go over it over and then I go over it again and again ….! All my energy is focused on that one event. Needless to when I wake up the next day there it is, waiting to be picked up and pick it up I do. Picking it up is easy and natural, after all that is what we all do right ? We carry our past with us reliving all the aweful moments. Holding on is natural and easy!
Well not easy. If I think about it holding on takes most of my mental energy and a good part of my emotional energy is dedicated to keeping those stories alive and well. I just don’t have the energy to work on something new. It was a comfortably numbing way of living and so, so normal. But normal has never been my thing. I want to be free, so now I practice letting go! You can too but first you have to recognise that you are holding on.
What not holding on looks like
Imagine having a horrid meeting (or if work isn’t your nemesis, imagine an argument at home or with a friend…or even a waiter). You were angry, you were right, they were wrong. That was yesterday, now you have to get up and go back to work …. and talk to those people again. If you are good at holding on there is that feeling of dread at the pit of your stomach that often results in flu or a headache or any excuse not to go back and face the proverbial music.
Now if you are good at letting go you wake up with ease and breeze into the office. It takes no trouble to greet everyone and make a witty comment about yesterday. When you are good at letting go you don’t have a hidden agenda, which means you aren’t fighting yesterday’s battles…which in turn means you aren’t in fear of loosing, again!
When you aren’t holding on you can see new opportunities. When you aren’t holding on you are really free to choose what is best now, in this moment … with these people. Convinced yet ?
Recognising that you are holding on
This is one of those moments where you get to practice courage, in particular, the courage to look yourself in the mirror and really see what is there…and then love what you see!
Have you noticed how you hold onto the same complaints and stories ? Have you noticed how often you seem to be repeating yourself ? That is holding on!
Stopping is simple, but not easy. This is a habit you need to start to consciously create and one that you need to recognise will take time. I spent 40 years getting real good at holding on, that kind of perfection doesn’t change over night.
Next time you find yourself getting sucked into the drama or reliving the same conversation or event over and over, stop! Focus on your breathing. Notice how the air comes in through your nose. Can you feel it as it moves into your lungs ? Notice how your chest expands and then notice how the air is released ? Do you let the air out all in one breathe or is it a gradual release ? Now for the next breath. Spend 5 minutes just noticing your breathing.
Now ask yourself what you are getting from holding on ? I find it helps to actually ask an imaginary person and then sit back and wait to hear the answer. Listen to that answer. Does it make sense ? Is there even an answer ?
If you find the story and drama grabbing back at you step away (apparently I have a good imagination because I really see myself taking a step to the left, outside of the story) and either practice just observing it, as if you were watching a film or go back to breathing.
You can use anything to change your focus but the trick is to hijack your brain and all the chemicals and emotions that it is used to producing so that it can not really get going. Breathing may not work for you, so maybe you need to go run up stairs, or knit or put on your favourite music and sing real loud.
The first time you try this you may be able to stay out of it for seconds, the second time ? minutes ! It takes practice, it takes effort but boy is it worth it. There is another warning here, sometimes letting go means releasing all the stored up tears and sorrow and anger that you were holding onto. I know this is the way I let go and it can be quite hectic.
Relax! Let it go! Let it flow! Create space for something new.