I like to write about things that are relevant to me.
Today’s post is about something I have been needing to do but haven’t managed to do it. And that is to let go.
The thing I’m letting go of is something that is completely outside my control and something that I feel hinders my happiness. I think we all, at some point or another, have dealt with a situation that was hurting us but that we found hard to deal with, either because when presented with it, we find it hard to control our emotions or because it’s something that is outside of our sphere of influence and yet it still affects us.
These situations are often sore points in our life that when they come up, inevitably make us feel out of control, emotional, and often we react in an unskillful way.
Talking to one of my sisters about my personal situation, she said to me: “Well, it seems like there’s nothing you can do about it and the more you try to change it the worse it gets. So, why don’t you just let it go.”
“WHAT??!” I said.
This at first made even angrier, after all, this issue is very important, I can’t just let it go, right? It’s unfair, and it must change, right?
Well, we hung up, and I took a few deep breaths, had a coffee and thought about it.
And guess what, after the anger subsided, I realized, she was right. I have to let it go.
But how? How do you, emotionally & mentally, let go of a situation that for a while has been bothering you and is completely outside of your control. A situation that has become so big that whenever I think about it I get angry. So, I was determined to find out a technique I could use to let go. Not tomorrow. Now. I wanted to let go now.
So, what do you do when you need answers?
I googled it.
The first few results were about types of therapies and long articles about why we need to let go and the spiritual path and forgiving from the bottom of your heart, and that sort of thing. And that’s all good, but I needed something I could do right there and then.
Below is the summary of what I found and tested. I am happy to say it worked like a charm.
- Journal about the issue. I wrote everything that came into my mind about the issue. How I felt, why I felt like that, why I felt out of control with it, how sad it made me feel out of control, the hypothesis about why I got myself in that situation, blah blah blah. Write everything that comes to mind.
- Write about what you are letting go of… the expectations, the disappointments, the frustrations, all of it. I wrote it like this: I let go of my frustration about _____ , I let go of my anger about ____; I let go of my expectation of X being Y.
- Write 10 affirmations about the issue but instead of anger and frustration, write about how neutral you feel about it. I was as detailed as possible so I could go deep to the core of the problem and write about how unaffected I was by it all. (This might not be true right now, but you are giving instructions to your brain at this point). For example, “I feel nothing when I think about_____, I feel completely neutral about _____ person”
- Go to your ‘neutral box’. This is the most important part. I realised that for me to change the anger feeling to a neutral one, I had to have a ‘neutral feeling’ template to use. I thought about a situation where I felt completely neutral, like going to the supermarket, or driving a car, or brushing my teeth. I closed my eyes and imagined myself in that neutral situation. I felt what it felt to be there and I lingered in that place until I got used to that neutrality feeling. Then I pictured the situation I was struggling with. I started to feel the anger arise and the mind proliferations that go with it. I took that image and froze it in time, like a picture. And then I took that picture and imagined I was putting it on top of the neutral image, as if I was stacking them. I imagined the ‘anger’ image losing colour and focus the longer it stayed on top of the ‘neutral image’. I noticed the anger I was feeling before was lowering in intensity. As if the ‘neutral’ image was having a ‘cooling’ effect on the ‘angry image’. It didn’t fully go away but it was more mellow and neutral. I did this a few more times, until the anger disappeared altogether and I was left only with the neutral feeling. It became a ‘meh’ feeling.
- Do this exercise a few more times until the feeling is 100% neutral. Continue to do this visualization exercise until the difficult situation is completely neutralised, until you really, really don’t care either way. Until you are completely ‘meh’ about it.
When we have no control over a situation in our lives, the only thing left that we do have control over is how we feel about it.
The less energy we give to a situation, the less power it holds over us.
This is an amazing tool that now I know I can apply as and when I need to. I have set my ‘neutral’ image and feeling and I can refer to it whenever I have a difficult situation that I feel emotionally overwhelmed by. I just ‘drag and drop’ the problem in my ‘neutral box’.
Some NLP practitioners even advise to do similar exercises but actually enacting them with your hands. Literally imagining taking a physical picture that has the ‘frozen’ image of your problem and imagining taking it in your hands and placing it inside your neutral ‘box’. There is something very powerful about performing the ‘solutions’.
I did and it really works!
Lastly I leave you here with a great quote about the ultimate letting go:
“Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.” Yoda
Diana Simpson Hernandez
Designers for Humanity