Letting go has become a personal development buzzword, lately. But what does it really mean?
The phrase is often used after we have experienced something unpleasant, like being cut off on the highway, or having a frustrating conversation. Obviously in these situations we can take a few slow deep breaths, and move on. But what about more difficult experiences like a break-up, getting fired, or finding out you are being sued?
What if you have survived a natural disaster, escaped a domestic abuse situation, or your house burned down? What if someone died?
How do we simply let these experiences go like a shiny red balloon?
The answer: we don’t. Because letting go in these situations doesn’t mean bypassing emotions or trauma. When we ignore difficult emotions like rage, despair, or fear, we lose touch with the actual mechanism that will allow ‘letting go’ to happen.
The mechanism is examining the feeling. So we can’t just throw it away.
Letting go of difficult experiences, memories, and emotions means diving in to understand them and be able to identify what is needed to finally heal. To be free of it.
We dive in to our feelings by letting them happen. Be sad, scared, angry.
Then ask yourself: What do I need right now to feel a little better?
Is it a cup of tea? Talking to a friend? Seeing a therapist? A doctor? A priest? Maybe it’s just a nap.
To let go of anything, we can’t bypass or ignore it. We must dive right in to our feelings, and observe them with open awareness. This is where a meditation practice comes in handy.
Three Steps For Letting Go of Difficult Emotions or Experiences
- Don’t ignore the feeling by bypassing it and pretending that everything is hunky- dory.
- Use your meditation skills to observe the feelings with open awareness. Pretend that you are a peaceful extra terrestrial psychologist that is just curious about human experience. Simply observe.
- Ask yourself what steps you need to take, or what activities you need to do to move through your emotions and come out on the other side.
Take baby steps. Bean by bean the bag is filled. Be gentle.