Letting It Go
“Sometimes the best way to solve a problem is to just stop caring.”
That’s my desktop background at work.
It might seem sarcastic and funny, but ironically, it’s true. You generally can’t move forward in life without letting go of the things that hold you back (fears, doubts, self-judgment). Worrying or overthinking problems can tie your brain in knots and fog your vision, preventing you from seeing solutions. Caring too much can lead to a cycle of pain, which can lead to poor decision-making. That’s why my personal mantra for 2019 is “LET IT GO.”
Here’s some examples to help motivate you this week to LET GO of whatever it is holding you back.
I’ve met a lot of women over the years who struggle in romantic relationships because of childhood issues. For one reason or another, they didn’t feel loved or cared for in the way they needed growing up, or they didn’t get the type or amount of attention or affection they needed from their father or father figure.
How many of you know the girl who only likes bad boys? These women seem to always go after jerks who treat them like crap and don’t want – or deserve – to be with them.
Boom. Daddy issues. Been there, done that.
I don’t know if this crosses over to bi or gay women, but cis-gender women can be attracted to self-destructive, abusive, or emotionally unavailable men because the dynamic mirrors their relationship with their father figure growing up. It can also be a subtle form of narcissism: women might find themselves attracted to emotionally guarded or damaged people because they can relate. These women are seeking to fix in others what they need to work on in themselves.
If you’re emotionally intelligent and introspective enough to figure out that you’re looking for love in all the wrong places, like I did when I was in my 20’s, and if you want to land a healthier relationship, then you’re going to need to come to terms with your past and let go of those bad habits.
Some real-life steps you can take to stop repeating the past and land a happier relationship:
Identify your values. Write out all the things you don’t want for yourself in a relationship, and all the things you do want. What personality traits, habits, would be ideal for you in a partner? Keep this list or note with you and refer back to it repeatedly, making sure to update it as needed.
Be intentional. Go forth into the dating pool and look carefully at your options, assessing them based on your values. Articulate your values up front and do not waste your time on those who don’t share them or won’t treat you the way you want to be treated. Look for the warning signs and avoid those with red flags!
Persist. Don’t give up. Don’t waiver. Don’t answer those calls and texts from Mr. Wrong – put up call blocks – because he’s wasting your time and LOVES doing it. It’s fun for him, but it’ll only cause you pain. Give Mr. Right a chance. This means going on multiple dates – even if sparks don’t fly the first couple of times. Remember, your brain’s been mis-wired to like Mr. Wrongs – it’s going to take you some time to let that mindset go, and rewire your brain to like Mr. Right.
How many times have you gotten stressed about an upcoming presentation or research assignment due that day, and yet clicked around in your email inbox for an hour to avoid facing reality?
Have you ever been annoyed about something your boss did at work, but instead of addressing it with them, you talked it to death with coworkers for a week (or two) instead, and never ended up expressing your concerns to your boss?
I’ve put off assignments for weeks when there wasn’t a deadline and I knew it would be onerous time-consuming – but in the back of my mind, I was dreading it the entire time.
You’ve got to let go of these fears. In all of these examples, addressing the problem head on, identifying a solution, and moving forward with that solution would give you more time, more energy, and more job satisfaction than ruminating.
Stress and anxiety can build up in the background of your mind like a bug in the operating program of a computer. It will unconsciously color your decisions and your interaction with others at your job. You might find yourself feeling snappy, distracted or unfocused, and leave work at the end of the day feeling like you should (and could) have been more productive. Don’t let yourself get sucked into a cycle of avoidance!
Here are a few steps you can take to conquer those worries at work:
Practice. When it comes to having tough conversations or giving killer presentations, practice makes perfect. Practice speaking your presentation out loud in front of a mirror, no notes, to make sure you nail every point you need to make and don’t engage in distracting behaviors. Doing this once or twice will increase your confidence tenfold!
Use the 3-2-1 Jump approach. Count down 3 – 2 – 1 and start doing whatever it is you need to get done. Chances are, you’ve already thought long and hard enough about it, thinking more isn’t going to help you!
Babysteps. Map out a step by step process of what needs to happen to complete your project. It should look like a chain of shorter, achievable tasks. Get started on the first step right now. As the saying goes, you eat an elephant bite by bite. A project that looks impossible before you get started will become totally doable after you’ve knocked out the first two baby-steps in the process.
I spent the weekend with a friend who was upset about a recent breakup and was having a hard time letting it go. We spent a lot of time chatting about the same questions and concerns that were circulating repeatedly through her head.
“Part of me hopes he’ll realize his mistake and come back to me later!”
“I just don’t understand why he lied.”
“Will I ever feel better?”
My friend kept thinking all of these thoughts, but at the end of the day, I told her, in a nutshell: there is no problem here for you to solve. The relationship is over, so you’re feeling sad. When you feel sad your brain thinks there is a problem, and being the helpful brain that it is, it’s trying to help you problem-solve by asking you all these questions. But there is no problem to solve. You just need to let it go.
Rumination is a serious problem for people who have just ended a relationship that was dear. We’re humans, our brains are wired to think and to worry in order to keep us out of trouble and to try to solve problems bothering us. When you’re experiencing a breakup however, there’s no problem to solve. It’s over, and the only problem is that your brain keeps trying to think of ways to make you stop hurting by imagining scenarios to fix it! In trying to help you problem-solve, your mind can make you feel worse than you have to.
There’s no fixing over, hunny.
Here’s a few ways you can work on letting that relationship go today:
Journaling. Keeping a journal can help you let go of what’s bothering you by writing it out. One way of letting go is to write down your sadness, sense of loss, and all the negative feelings associated with a breakup and then burn the paper, or tear it up. I’ve also found it super useful to keep a journal and re-read it later to see how you’ve grown. Write messages to yourself for the future you, and refer back to it when you’re feeling low.
Meditation. Whether you meditate through mindful breathing (counting your breaths), using a body scan technique, or focusing on an object like a statue or candle – meditation is a surefire way to help you calm your brain.
Distraction. Drawing, crafting, building model airplanes or a puzzle, knitting, or other artistic or creative efforts that require concentration can be therapeutic. These tasks are distracting; they help you cultivate a mindful state of awareness by pulling your mind up out of your thoughts and focusing it onto a creative task. By distracting your brain with this kind of work, you can redirect your mind off of anxiety, worries, or repetitive thoughts clouding your head.
Exercise. Exercise is another great way to clear your head and get your endorphins pumping. Lots of folks feel great after exercising – it’s one of the healthiest way to physically cleanse your system and your mind and let go of thoughts that get in your way.
Good luck finding the best way to LET GO of what's holding you back today!