I’ll admit when I wrote this title I cringed. I apologize in advance for getting the song from Frozen, “Let It Go” into your head. Sometimes I will attempt to sing parts of this song to my kids to annoy them. It works well in annoying my kids and doesn’t ever help them let something go.
Let It Go
When this phrase is spoken, the opposite is often felt. Try it out with these phrases:
“He broke your heart, now let him go and move on”
“Yes, that text really angered you, just let it go, that person is a moron and doesn’t know what he’s talking about”
“Your <insert love one’s name> has been gone a long time now. It’s time to let that sadness go and move on”
You can probably add many more examples, and my guess is that each of these statements do not help anyone let anything go. All these phrases could have used the word “I” instead of the word “You” as well. Often there is no one else but us who is telling us to let something go.
The Mythical Switch
We all have things in our life that we want to let go. We’d love to find that switch in ourselves that allowed us to do so, that mythical switch where when we turned it off, and then the feelings we don’t want to feel would change in an instant. Or that behavior switch that would help us change a behavior we wanted to make. Or the thought switch that would help us change our thoughts. I have prayed for this switch and often wish that it was this easy. It’s not.
Intentions are a 2-Sided Coin
Letting something go is an intention that you make either aloud or silently. I have often felt frustrated with the oversimplification of setting intentions in books & articles. I have read too many things where the solution to reducing pain is opening your heart to feel the pain or setting an intention to let something go. An intention will work if it is pure, but when it comes to letting go of something, I would guess that 99% of the time an intention is a “should” in disguise.
A pure intention is when something is true to you in your mind, body, & spirit.
“My intention is to go to France for one year” could be understood as “I want to go to France for a year and I’m going to find a way to do it”. If that’s true, it’s likely to happen. If it’s a, “I should or maybe want to”, it’s much less likely that I will go to France for one year.
Notice that I didn’t put a “let it go” phrase into this example, because that’s much harder to find.
The Silent Should
Usually when I set an intention to let something go, it is a “should” and not a true desire. There is a silent “should” said underneath it.
“My intention is to stop being angry at Veronica” is actually “I should stop being angry at Veronica even though I’m still angry at her”.
How to Sing Let It Go and Really Mean It
- Acknowledge what you want to let go (e.g. anger towards a person)
- Reflect on whether it’s a should or a true desire to change or do something
- If it’s a true desire – it will manifest quickly (sometimes effortlessly and sometimes still needing a lot of effort)
- If it’s a should, then you need to explore what is blocking your desire to let it go
Explore where you’re judging yourself and not being compassionate to what you’re feeling. Start by exploring the reasons why you:
A) Want to let something go
B) Don’t want to let something go
We all have reasons why we want to let something go and at the same time we have reasons why we don’t want to let something go. It may not be rational, but that’s okay. It is essential that we have compassion for both parts of ourselves. There is wisdom and pain in both parts. If we tell the part of ourselves that wants to be angry to be less angry, it’s unlikely to work. If we deeply explore BOTH of those pieces of ourselves, then we are more likely to make a shift and let something go.
Sometimes I can do this process on my own in a journal. Other times I find it helpful to do this with someone in my life who can act as a guide. This person needs to be someone:
- I trust
- Loves me unconditionally or can be non-judgmental with me
- Wants to and has the capacity to really listen to me
Most of the time, I find this easiest done with a therapist because they’re less biased and will spend an hour of devoted time to really sink into an issue. While loved ones may have the capacity to do this with us, I don’t generally recommend it because there are too many wild cards that get in the way (e.g. Kids, relationship issues, positive or negative biases and many more possibilities).
Also, if you explore it further, you will learn that these blocks all started from somewhere in your childhood. A therapist can help you explore these sources and help you shift on your current journey of trying to let something go or changing a behavior.
You may feel overwhelmed reading that the process of letting something go is not so simple, or you may feel relief that it’s possible to let something go without disregarding a piece of yourself. I often feel both overwhelm and relief. Those feelings are a good clue that there’s something to explore. Remember, it’s not a switch, letting go takes time. Sometimes time on it’s own will work miracles and sometimes the passing of time doesn’t help at all. I guarantee if you go through this process that it will be easier to let go of the current situation or will help you when you find yourself in future situations that are similar.
What are you trying to let go?