Why "Letting It Go" Might Not Be Such a Good Idea
The real secret to getting past the bad stuff quicker
Posted November 19, 2014
Have you ever said something like the following?
“What happened happened, and there's nothing I can do about it now. So just need to let it go.”
“I’m going to let go of my fear and move ahead with my plan.”
"I could make a stink about this, or I could just let it go. What should I do?"
What does it really mean to “let it go” in these situations? How does that process work? Does trying to let go of stuff even work?
Think of the last time you tried to let go of something that bothered you. Did it stay "let go" of, or did it come back to haunt you?
If getting over a bothersome situation were simply a matter of deciding to let it go, how much easier would life be?
Someone cut you off in traffic? Let it go.
Got called an ugly name? Let it go.
Something totally unfair happen at the office? Let it go.
It might be calming to read about letting stuff go, but it's anything but calming when we actually try to do it.
It's easy to feel like we're failing when we can't seem to let go of something that bothers us.
But in reality, it's not natural -- or necessary -- to let certain things go.
I'm talking about emotions. (Of course I am. That's what I mostly talk about in this blog after all.)
We can't let go of feelings any more than we can let go of our heartbeat. It would be useless to try... and kind of bizarre.
So trying to manage feelings by "just letting them go" doesn't make any sense.
Feelings dissipate on their own once we fully experience them.
The trick is to fully experience them.
Once something in our lives (or our thoughts) triggers a feeling, the process is set in motion, and the emotion is there, whether you want it or not.
And by the way, there's no point in beating yourself up for thinking the wrong thoughts. Sometimes it's the feelings that create the thoughts, not the other way around.
You may have a feeling that was triggered by a thought, or you may be thinking a thought because you feel a certain way.
What needs to happen now is the same either way.
That feeling has to move through you in order to be released. The only way out, it's been said many times, is THROUGH.
This means that in order to let go of a feeling, you must first give it its due.
Giving a feeling its due doesn't mean acting on it. Feeling is different from acting.
It's one thing to be angry at someone, to name and acknowledge your anger. It's entirely another thing to act out that anger with an aggressive or violent act.
The first is appropriate and necessary; the second is not.
So feel your feelings. They can't hurt anyone by their mere existence. (See also my article on Dealing with Anger.)
You might say, “OK, so I felt it already. When will it be gone?”
If it seems like you’ve already been there and done that and you just want to move on, but the feeling isn't going anywhere, your impatience with the feeling might be a clue that you haven't fully embraced it.
Think about it for a second ... Have you experienced your feeling in your body, understood and integrated it?
Or is it just that this emotion has come up for you many times before and you're getting tired of trying to bat it away?
Remember that the only way out of a feeling is through it. Try the T-R-U-T-H Technique and let me know how it goes.