October 3, 2014

Hold on: What to Consider Before Buying into the Fad of Letting Go.



I’m so tired of crappy new-age articles casually listing off ways we can easily “let it all go.”

It seems like this kind of blasé, “I’m so evolved, I can let anything go; I never experience negative emotions. I am at peace, but totally look down on you for not just moving on already” attitude is so in style these days.

And, as much as I reject this view, sometimes I wish I could be that cool and collected. Sometimes I pretend that I am.

But, the juicy truth is that I’m over here in a frenzy, my mascara smeared, completely freaking out, sobbing and unable to move past a hurtful comment.

I know, pretty attractive right?

Okay…let me pose a question:

Do we truly think that the intricate and intimately individual process of letting go can be reduced to a few simple steps?

No! (Well, that’s my answer anyway.)

So, I’m calling bullsh*t.

This whole “letting go” fad is nothing more than a perfectly painted façade, something we want to wear to numb ourselves from the painful realities of life.

Yes, at first glance, it can seem free-spirited, sexy and enlightened to operate in this cool, detached manner.

But, it’s not real.

So, lets be real: we are the only ones who lose out with a wimpy, watered-down angle like that.

Here’s why I refuse to buy in:

Forcing ourselves to move on means manipulating our emotions in a direction contrary to what we’re feeling. It’s essentially false—and very unhealthy.

We always know deep down what’s true.

We really can’t bullsh*t ourselves as much as we think.

We’re not that sly.

But, worst of all: if we force letting go before we’re truly ready, those yucky unresolved feelings will just lurk beneath the surface, ready to crop up at a later date.


We’ll feel resigned (not super empowered), rather than having truly resolved anything.

And, that, my friends, is not the recipe for health of any kind.

Trust me, I’ve tried it a few times too many.

Or, perhaps just the right amount of times to question it.

As a great teacher once said to me, as I sat before him embarrassed of my tears: if you’re sad, be sad. If you’re angry, be angry. If you’re not able to let go, then be there, sit there, remain there, in that non-letting-go-ness.

Such simple yet mind-blowingly profound advice.

It really reminds us to be wherever we are, because that’s exactly where we need to be. It encourages us to embrace what’s happening now, rather than grasping for some vague future event.

Because honestly, really, truly, sometimes it just doesn’t f*cking matter if we hold on or if we let go.

What matters more is if we’re present with ourselves, regardless of our emotional or mental state.

So, wherever we are right now, whatever we’re feeling: let’s stop trying to change it.

Let’s dig in.

In becoming attentive and observing our feelings as they come and go, as they sneak up on us, as they at-times suffocate us, we learn so much. So much more than if we just wish our feelings away, pretend them away, or force them away.

And yes, believe me, I want my pain to go away immediately, too!

I have very little respect for discomfort, especially of the emotional variety.

I want to get over failed relationships and hurt feelings right away. I want grief and rage and indignation erased from my mind. I want sorrow deleted from my heart.

Unfortunately, I am human (and a highly sensitive one at that) and I need time to allow myself to just throb with pain.

I think we all need this time:

To feel sad. To clasp tightly. To feel wronged. To feel shattered and broken. To feel whatever the f*ck we want to feel. To think things completely and utterly to death. To feel what makes our demons scream. To feel battered and beaten.

So, let’s stay in that uneasy, limbo-like state for as long as we need.
It is perfectly okay (and necessary).

And, once we give ourselves permission to sit with those wounds, we will immediately start to feel this strange sense of freedom. Embracing our darkest feelings can be oddly comforting.

A sense of openness washes over us, and relaxation trickles in. Our physical tensions eases, our emotions even out, and our mind becomes more steady.

From this place, it’s actually possible to move on.

It happens naturally and ever so subtly.

If you blink you might miss it.

Keep your eyes wide open and you’ll witness a lot:

Letting go happens in little waves.

It’s that tiny moment on our commute to work where our minds feels clearer. Where we realize our thoughts aren’t racing about why someone left us, why a job ended, or why a friend is angry with us. It’s that millisecond when we notice that our thoughts and heart aren’t pounding with anxiety. It’s the momentary ability to see clearly and have a deeper understanding of ourselves. Even if it’s for just a second, we are letting go.

It’s happening and it’s beautiful.

Letting go is rarely a dramatic event: it’s simply the build-up of small, freer moments over time.

If we are truly and completely honest with ourselves and allow it to happen naturally, we will be gifted with the beautiful reward of truly and healthily moving on.

And, that means no pretending. No forcing. No bullsh*t.

But—isn’t it so much better that way?



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Editor: Travis May

Photo: Flickr/.samm

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