When I was a little girl about 5 years old my parents decided to get a new couch. You would think that it would be an exciting for the household to get a new piece of furniture, but for the anxious child it was a literal nightmare. I was so upset about this change that I was inconsolable. My parents then decided that they would keep the couch but put it in the backyard. So what did that little anxious child do? Every day after school I would jump of the school bus and run into the backyard to check and see that the couch was still there. Knowing it remained soothed my little jagged nerves and gave me peace once again.
As an adult I can reflect on this and see that my early days of trying to cope with a home environment that was unpredictable and chaotic manifested in trying to control my physical environment. The anxiety I felt with change was overwhelming and I did what any 5 year old would do, cried uncontrollably and threw a fit. My parents left that couch in the backyard for weeks, and my daily routine didn’t stray. Then one day they decided that enough was enough and sent the couch to the dump. I can’t remember how I reacted that day when I ran into the backyard to see if the couch was still there and it was gone. Perhaps it was so devastating I have stricken it from memory, but what I do know is that my ability to let go of things has been a struggle for most of my life.
I am much better at recognizing when I am putting a strangle hold on my life, family, environment or whatever else I am trying to control when I’m anxious but it is still a daily practice of learning to let go.
Most recently I have been faced with a persons unpredictable, hurtful behavior and to add more insult to injury this person is now acting like everything is normal and pretending like they never did anything wrong. This is causing me terrible anxiety and upset and I can feel my emotions trying to strangle hold things in an attempt to soothe myself.
Holding on to pain doesn’t fix anything. Replaying the past over and over again doesn’t change it, and wishing things were different doesn’t make it so. But how do we get to this point where we can let go and move on?
There are a few simple concepts that we can practice to help us hone the skill of letting go.
We must accept the person we are in this moment, and the way other people are, too.
- We are all a work in progress, some of us are actively working towards betterment and others are not but we can’t change anyone other than ourselves. Accepting ourselves in the moment for whatever we think and feel without judgement and accepting other people the way they are no matter how hurtful or unpredictable is a skill that will release us from our own torment. This allows us to accept the situation as is and make a decision to not replay it in our minds over and over expecting something to change. Practicing gratitude, appreciation, and trust in the process will help ease the negative thoughts and emotions that may arise as you try and accept unacceptable behavior.
When our expectations or needs aren’t met, we need to respond rationally and appropriately.
- When we become invested in an outcome when dealing with other people we can often become disappointed. This is because our expectations often exceed the other persons capabilities. There are no guarantees in life, and there’s nothing we can really do to get the outcomes we desire when dealing with others. Responding with setting boundaries or letting go is the best route.
Only worry about what you think of yourself.
- What other people think of you is none of your business. If you set boundaries what other people think about that is none of your business. If you voice your own truth it is none of your business what other people think about it as long as its making you happy. If you let go of a relationship or friendship it is none of your business what that person thinks about it. Free yourself from being concerned about what other people think about you. Prioritize how you feel about yourself and let go of the rest.
Do you have a different concept that help you move towards letting go? Share it in the comments below.