Remember when I recently wrote about how never in the history of calming down has anyone ever calmed down by being told to calm down?
Well, the theme continues. This time, we’re talking about letting go.
Have you ever tried to command yourself to just let go of something? Like anger or resentment or caring about what other people think?
How did that go?
I’m going to hazard a guess here and say that it probably didn’t work as well as you had hoped.
We live in a culture that likes to tell us to just do it. As if willpower is always enough. Just make a decision and be that way from here on out.
Ummmmm….Nope. Doesn’t work that way.
Here’s what I know about letting go.
It happens naturally when we create the right circumstances.
Our emotions are messengers, trying to bring our attention to something that matters to us. We may have forgotten. We may have been taught to shove it way down deep and put on a brave face. But when you try to stash your truth, it will continue to poke at you, begging for your attention, and maybe even seeming to sabotage you.
Like when you insist, “I’m fine.” Even though everyone knows you’re not fine. Then you find yourself leaning in to unhealthy stress management choices that have become all too familiar to you.
Maybe it’s stress eating.
Maybe it’s stress shopping.
Maybe it’s creating drama or picking fights.
If you’re not fine, pretending that you are will get you nowhere fast.
I get it. It can be scary to accept and actually experience our feelings. Especially in cases where we don’t believe that anything will change, we’d rather do our best to suck it up instead.
If you really want to let stuff go, if you’re truly want to know how to get back to “fine” (or better!), you’ve got to build your capacity to be present with the uncomfortable stuff. When we’re feeling stressed out, we have less and less room for this kind of thing. Our tolerance level goes down and it takes less to push us over the edge. So we need to understand how to create a physiological sense of calm inside the body so that we can begin to turn towards the stuff we wish would just go away.
You see, we don’t just let go. The key is to let go of our resistance to whatever it is we’re feeling. It’s when we don’t want to feel sad or mad or rejected or disappointed that we deny ourselves and just want it to go away. But when we learn how to be with that part of our experience, we open up to hearing the message. Things naturally resolve this way.
I’ve never forced myself to forgive someone. Instead, I’ve allowed myself to feel my feelings. When I feel them fully, and when I turn towards my experience to better understand myself, forgiveness has been a natural outcome. It’s something that, for me, simply happens once I witness my own experience.
Now, I didn’t just start doing it all at once. And I certainly didn’t do it alone.
We need to first build our capacity to be present through mind-body techniques.
I’m sharing the first steps to this approach in my upcoming yoga & journaling workshop, Deep Release, in Toronto on November 14th. If you want to learn how to actually let stuff go, you won’t want to miss this. You deserve that freedom.