Lately, it seems as though everyone is obsessed with the mantra, "Let it go." Children are singing it, bloggers are blogging about it, spiritual gurus are selling books about it and our newsfeeds are force-feeding us never ending inspirational quotes covering sunsets and waterfalls or balloons flying away in the sky telling us to do it:
"She took a deep breath and let it go."
"The past has passed, let it fucking go."
"Don't overthink, just let it go."
"One of the simplest ways to stay happy is... Letting go of the things that make you sad."
photo credit: visualizeus.com
Well gee, that sounds super easy, why didn't I think of that? We can just let go of those overpowering thoughts and feelings that have been heart and brain tugging us for weeks or months? Thank you Inspirational Quotes, you genius!
So, tell me more...Do I make just three easy installments of only $39.95 and poof. my fairy Godmother shows up to sprinkle "don't give a damn" dust all over my head? If I act now will you throw in a free memory erase button along with a DVD of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind?
These quotes sound like they are literally bored to death and rolling their eyes over our pains. It was just the love of your life cheating on you. It was just being replaced by your BFF of 25 years. It was just terrible rumors being spread about you. It was just a close family member saying something nasty behind your back. It was just that you failed at something major, were rejected by someone or something of importance, did something crappy that you wish you could take back, etc...
JUST. GET. OVER. IT. You pathetic weakling, you're being really uncool. Sincerely, Inspirational Quote's Inner Monologue.
Well, unfortunately we are not part robot with electrical boxes and magical buttons to push in case of emergency. (If you've seen the creepy '80s sitcom Small Wonder, her look and monotone voice is what I am getting at). So, I started to really think about this saying and how shallowly it gets thrown around. I asked myself what the reality of it is and began dissecting the whole concept.
What and Why?: Our white knuckled go-to's.
What: We hold onto thoughts and emotions connecting us to our relationships with others and ourselves.
The opposite of letting go is to hold on to and be attached to something. That means we love and desire it or are harping on the negative effects of what it has done to us. If you've reached the need to "let it go" stage, it means that your attachment has consumed you to a point that is no longer serving in a healthy manner and you need out. You want to DESTROY those feelings asap, but you feel overpowered and helpless.
So we tell ourselves and others, to "Just let it go." Well, that's all good in theory, but since we are creatures of habit, to detach from some of our more intense relationships and emotional attachments (unless you are a total psychopath) is a difficult process.
Why: Because as humans, we've built belief systems that work for us. We emotionally hold onto certain things to make us feel "safe" and secure with lovers, friends, family, co-workers or even our own thoughts. When things don't turn out the way we wanted them to, we cannot always let go easily because that means that we will have an empty space where that significant thing once was and we simply hate empty spaces.
Our minds are a battlefield where we can become fixated and hoard our pain. We create and hold onto these thought controls that tell us things like: "I failed, I was rejected, I should or shouldn't have done or said that, that person hurt me, I cannot accept that, that's not the truth," and so on.
What Does That Mean? Look up. See that mountain? Put on your blinders and get going...
To "let go" you've got to be brave, because you have to transform your thoughts. Metaphorically that means you are going to shed skin like a snake and leave behind some shell of your old self and ways of thinking. Our minds are powerful and whatever we feed them are their truths.
Growth is a journey and it means some parts are going to be miserable, uncomfortable and painful. It takes major discipline and trust to break the foundation and secure building blocks and patterns you have created for yourself. Many people are stuck or scared and incapable of taking the steps because there is fear in knowing there will be a void where they've been putting their energy -- even if that energy was the relationship they had with their pain and disappointment.
It also means that those inspirational quotes forget to tell you that you're probably going to F- up. I've trekked through some of my hells, been ten steps away from the mountain top only to collapse and fail. I was starving, thirsty, (probably needed a couple of beers) lonely, scared, and uncertain so I reached back for that thing that I was trying to let go of. Oh, sweet, miserable Safety!
Be aware: It takes time and discipline to ween off of something you once cared and thought a whole lot about. I hate the saying "Time heals all wounds" it's the worst and so cliché, but it is the truth. Except, I'd say it's more like time and discipline. So, prepare for it with a plan, shift your energy and nurture yourself along the way.
Honest Inspirational Quotes: What would Blunt Buddha Say? Hey gurus, be real.
"If you're going through hell, keep going."- Winston Churchill
"Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die."- Supposedly Buddha, but most likely some other wise person
"In the end, only three things matter: how much you love, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of the things not meant for you." -Unknown
"Remind yourself these are your only three options: remove yourself from the situation, change it, or accept it. These acts create happiness; holding onto bitterness never does."-Unknown
"A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks he becomes." - M. Gandhi
"Let go or be dragged."- Someone who tells it exactly how it is
photo credit: geniusquotes.com
Reality Check: Choose a new Adventure
Remind yourself that real journeys will find you scared, lost, insecure, weary, restless, impatient and unsure along the way. That's absolutely terrifying, right? But guess what's more terrifying? Staying in the same negative mind space or being attached to someone who is unhealthy for you. We are created to live to our highest potential. Being complacent in something that is not helping you thrive leaves you with a sad and inauthentic life.
Letting it go means pushing through the pain, honestly forgiving yourself and others and changing the thought patterns in your belief system. We cannot control what others think, feel, say, or want, we can only control ourselves and how we react to those things.
So... to let it go, we need to reboot, reprogram and choose a new adventure! Our diverging stories can lead to several possible endings, so shift and slowly change pages. That means that if your normal daily activities are not helping you to let go of whatever "it" is that is holding you back, then come up with a plan to crack your system's programmed code. Think outside the box and fill the void with new and healthy options to feed your mind space. Go wild with it! The world is seriously your oyster and letting go is the perfect opportunity to heal, renew, expand your mind and explore the all the possibilities life has to offer. Letting go of something that no longer serves you can potentially change your whole life's destiny...