"Letting go does not mean you stop caring. It means you stop trying to force others to." - Many Hale
Letting go is easier than we may think. In fact, the act of doing so is right in front of us, and always has been.
When I was younger, I'd spend hours reading articles on how to let go of things and move on, and yet, I'd continue to cling onto the problems, never truly healing from them. Truly letting go seemed to be an impossible task, even now as a young adult, and I simply assumed that I might never be able to fully move on from certain occurrences that clung to me deeply, for no apparent reason at all. The problems simply become a part of us, and they'll continue to travel with us, serving as reminders or lessons.
I think everyone is pretty stubborn, in one way or another. Personally, if things don't go my way, I have a tendency of getting frustrated, demanding the other person or people agree with me or apologize. When they don't, I eventually step away, yes, but it's very difficult for me to let go, to accept that not everything is going to go as planned.
Over the past few weeks, I've been in the midst of a conflict with someone in my life and yesterday, we were talking things out and still, the situation wasn't going my way. I won't share the details, but I eventually lashed out in anger, something I rarely do and always regret. Frustrated at what was happening, I went to rinse off and turned on my go-to podcast, The Mindful Kind. Miraculously, all of her recent podcasts were about letting go of control, embarrassment, and other emotions. I like to think The Universe places lessons and guidance in our lives just when we need them, guiding us toward where we need to go. And I absorbed this advice like a sponge, having not explored my need for control in situations until then.
Do I think we should give-in to others and not express our needs and wants? No. However, the hard truth is that we cannot expect too much out of others just because we expect the same out of ourselves. We cannot force the other person or people to say what we want to hear, and we cannot make situations play out like we want them to. We have to release control, and allow situations to happen naturally, and if that means simply walking away from a relationship and not getting out what you had hoped, then that's that. That's just how that situation played out, and we can then take what has happened as guidance for a similar one in the future.
With this new knowledge in mind, I decided to call my mom for help. At the end of our call, she told me something that truly resonated with me, "Now that you've talked to me, don't talk to anyone else. One person is enough, sometimes even too much. You've got it out, now let it go."
Scoffing, I remember saying, "That's easier said than done." I told you, I can be quite stubborn.
"Is it?" she said. "What is talking about this more going to do for you? You just have to let things go sometimes."
With a long, deep breath, I finally agreed with her. And I didn't bring it up for the rest of the day, nor since (besides writing this post, of course, but even then, the urge to share details has fled) and I feel...
It's the strangest thing. Normally, I am the person who cannot let things go, loves to share my current struggles with anyone who will listen, seeking out advice to then make my own decisions. I always thought that doing this was the right thing to do; rather than make rash decisions, shouldn't we ask for guidance? While yes, it depends, I can't help but think of what my mom said. "One person is enough, sometimes even too much."
When we continue to talk about our problems with others, hold onto our frustration, our anger, what are we really doing? Protecting ourselves, controlling the situation, or causing deeper and deeper pain? Talking with others didn't make me happy; in fact, bringing up the situation often made me feel worse.
Once again, this isn't to say that we can't go to people for guidance, but we must first make sure we're going to people for genuine clarity rather than info-dumping or gossiping.
Letting go, in theory, is as simple as it says. Not having control, not telling everyone about it, not holding grudges, releasing expectations, allowing things to happen naturally, and just... letting go.
The podcast, The Space, (another favorite mindfulness one of mine) shared a practice for letting go that has helped me: hold onto a pen, tightly, and channel all of your heavy emotions into it. Then, you drop the pen. You let go, hear it fall against the floor, and then you carry on. There is also tapping, which is a phenomenal practice at releasing control.
It truly is fascinating, how I first thought letting go was impossible. And now, I'm realizing how simple it really is to do, and how all this time, my stubbornness was blocking my inner freedom and clarity. My need for control limited me from healing and allowing things to play out naturally. Sure, I'm going to allow myself to be sad, allow my emotions to surface and experience them for what they are, but only briefly, and only until I feel ready to heal.
And when I'm ready, when we're ready, all we have to do is let go.
How freeing is it? To know you no longer need to use up your energy for something that has already released you?
Probably letting go,