This is a guest post by Dr. Shawn Haywood
We’ve all heard it and said it: “Hey man, just let it go.” “It’s not about you, just let it go.” “Geez, girl, you can’t keep worrying about that; just let it go.”
Ring a bell?
But is it that simple?
Can we just "let something go" in the any moment we choose? It seems easy enough when people talk about it. I mean, really, it’s just three little words: LET. IT. GO.
The answer is a resounding and emphatic YES. You can LEARN to let anything go in any moment you choose. Key word is LEARN.
BUT, not because someone simply told you to let go, or because you think you "should" let something go. Letting go is a learned skill that requires practice. And practicing in consistent and specific ways is key to your success! Learning to utilize letting go can aid you in very rapid and efficient emotional rebounding, as well as in the elimination of many, or all, negative emotions. Essentially, the more you practice it, the more you will get out of it.
Why would you want to learn to let go of anything in any moment you choose?
Simple: to feel good. To be content. To live in peace and harmony.
I’ve been practicing the letting go technique since I was 28. I’m now 45, and I practice the technique daily as a form of meditation (I haven’t practiced daily all of those years… but I sure wish I had!). I first stumbled across a version of the letting go technique at 28 in a book that I cannot remember the title of!
I used to be filled with so much deep-rooted anger and resentment that I could spit nails at the drop of a hat! It was very sad and painful, not only for myself, but surely for those around me as well. I grew up in a home where anger and aggression were commonplace. Years of anger and anger tactics passed down from generation to generation.
I wanted to STOP that cycle. With all of my heart, I wanted to feel peace and softness, rather than the anger and angst that haunted me. I wanted to stop experiencing road rage and the constant blaming of others for my life situations or results and to stop feeling so out of control.
I wanted to learn to LET GO, anytime and anywhere I chose. And to a very large degree, I have.
At the time, I was training to become a coach (and a therapist), and I wanted to learn how to profoundly OWN my life, experience, perceptions, results and emotions so that I could share these lessons with others.
There are many lessons and tools that I have learned to utilize, and thus teach, on a regular basis over 18+ years of being a life coach. Yet, the most efficient tool thus far is the letting go technique. Letting go is essentially a pathway to live in a state of surrender and acceptance. Doesn’t that sound amazing and intriguing?
Why learn to let go?
Easy. You can learn to let go of and get rid of unwanted or negative emotions, beliefs, results or perceptions completely. Most people teach others how to "manage" unwanted gunk.
I am a believer in and teacher of elimination.
Why carry a 50-pound bag of anger (feelings of upset, loneliness, frustration, anxiety, etc.) in various ways...trying to pull it around on wheels, throw it over alternating shoulders, stick it in a backpack to tote around, place it on a sled and drag it…when you can poke a hole in the bottom of the bag and let the unwanted emotion, pain, suffering and limiting and damaging beliefs and so on ooze out bit by bit until it’s empty? In other words, why manage unwanted emotion, which requires 10 times the energy and effort, when you can eliminate it completely?
You can think of each major negative emotion as a large bag of sand that you filled up as you grew up. We fill the negative emotion sand bags and then tote them because we don't know how to handle emotions in ways that allowed them to dissipate naturally.
Instead, you learned to suppress emotions (stuff them down or deny them), project emotions (through judgment, harsh opinions, condemnation and gossip) or escape (by choosing to over eat, over drink, be overly busy, over work, over shop, over think, etc.) from emotions. These behaviors are the evidence of unresolved emotions. This is a serious simplification but a fairly accurate one.
We all desire peace and joy. The letting go technique is a very efficient and effective way of achieving peace and joy as states of being, instead of as brief and infrequent stop overs.
Letting go, the mechanism of surrender, joy, peace and acceptance
Surrender, joy, peace and acceptance are extremely powerful inner spaces and are the profound results of the letting go technique. Using the letting go technique has a cumulative effect over time. So the more you practice, the more benefit you will receive.
So…The million-dollar question: How do YOU learn to "let go" on demand?
Let’s look at the first three steps of the letting go technique.
1.Be still. Yes, that is it. In order to find a truly consistent peace and contentment, you must learn to become still. To sit or lie still beginning with five minutes for 30 days and ramping up to 30 or more each day. There is nothing to do at first except for SIT STILL for five minutes. This is your first disciplined action.
AND, before you even begin to say things like, "I don’t have time to sit still" or, "When I sit still, my mind becomes even busier," the two main blocks to stillness that I hear, let’s quickly address them!
Time: BS. Everyone had five to 30 minutes for anything he or she deems valuable enough to dedicate time to. There are many ways you can find time. I promise you, within two coaching calls, we could find an extra five to 10 hours per week! The point is, we spend time on a) what is most valuable or b) that which YELLS the loudest in life.
Busier mind: Your mind only SEEMS busier when you sit still because you are being still and focusing on it. Actually, your mind is equally manic all of the time. It just seems worse when you sit still and place your focus on it. I promise: with practice, your mind will calm down and slow down!
Excuses crushed! Now, ask yourself: Do I want to experience surrender, joy, peace and acceptance on a consistent or permanent basis? Why or why not?
2. Let thoughts fall like snow flakes.
When being still, we often get stuck on or attached to a given thought. We mistake it for something valuable or important or something we HAVE to remember!
PLEASE be very clear about this…One thought is no better or worse than the next. No thought defines you or your value and worth. No thought needs your emotional attachment. No thought is really even more or less interesting either, though our egos like to flatter ourselves that they are! And anyway, more than 95% of your thoughts today are the exact same recycled thoughts as yesterday. (Unless you are using tools like meditation, letting go, active learning and LB removal and the like to actively change your brain, thought patterns and quality of emotions and to diminish the overall number of daily thoughts) -- otherwise, what you think about today is largely the very same as it was yesterday.
I share this not to make you feel small or insignificant but to remind you that you are not the sum of your thoughts. You are divine essence IN SPITE of your thoughts!
3.Become present with any given emotion. At the heart of the letting go technique is simply being present with a given emotion (NOT a thought or drama story). This means that when you become angry, sad, upset, lonely, anxious, fearful or resentful that you SIT down in the moment (as often as possible) and be with the emotion, without thinking, until the emotion dissolves or at least lessens.
Additionally, after your 30 days of sitting still, you can begin using your five or more minutes to focus on a given emotion that you tend to struggle with. I sat with and practiced letting go of anger for a full year! As a result, there are some versions of anger that I don’t experience at all, and others I experience very infrequently, while a couple of forms are still in the works. But, I am able to let go of these in the moment or within a few short moments of letting go of and surrendering to the emotion.
It has taken me as long as several hours of being still for an emotion to completely dissolve, and as little as 10-30 seconds. As you can imagine, it takes longer in the beginning and less time as you gain practice.
No need to panic, as you don’t have to sit still until it dissolves completely, unless you want to. Any time you dedicate to being still with an emotion is letting sand out of the bag, while simultaneously moving you toward peace, acceptance, joy and surrender.
There are progressions of advancing letting go skills; however, they are of no real use to you until you begin a disciplined practice of the above three habits. But at any time, feel free to reach out to me with questions!