Recently I have mentioned the power in letting go a couple of times. It seems to be something that resonates with people. I wanted to explain a little more about what I mean by it, why I believe in it and explain how you can harness the power in letting go yourself.
What do I mean by the power in letting go?
The last few weeks I have been loving all the sunshine we have been getting in the UK. At every opportunity I have slathered on the sunscreen and headed out side. I have been running, walking, cycling and swimming in the sunshine. I have even spent some time just lying in it and sunbathing…very unusual for me! The sunshine makes me so happy so I was interested to read a BBC News article on whether there is more crime during a heatwave. It seems the heat can bring out the worst in some of us. Perhaps when we are uncomfortably hot we are prone to becoming more irritable and for some this turns to violence. I wonder if we are generally becoming a more angry society?
The internet does not help. It has made us a far more reactionary. When wounded we can immediately take to social media to vent our frustrations. We spot a news article and without questioning its validity we share and comment. Some people derive great pleasure from goading others with comments. We are easily sucked into a virtual world of indignant horror and upset.
Why do we need to be letting go?
We all go through times in our life when we are angry at someone or something. The anger usually stems from hurt or frustration and can take a hold over us. We can’t stop thinking about it and want there to be consequences for the person or situation. Perhaps the consequence could be confrontation or revenge. We may want to have an argument to express our feelings, spread the word about how we’ve been wronged or take actions which we see as redressing the balance.
In short, we want to transfer our anger. We try to dissipate our feelings by making others feel bad. Truthfully though, this just doesn’t work. It only spreads anger. There is a healthier way to deal with things and become a calmer, happier person. I love that nowadays when friends say to me ‘Oh, that would make me so angry.’ I am able to shrug and say ‘it did, but that made me unhappy, so I chose not to be angry anymore.’ That is the power of letting go.
How do we let go?
When we let go of negative feelings we free up our lives. It’s easy to say and only takes a little effort to do. Earlier this week someone made a comment on a post I had put in a Facebook group. The comment was slightly sarcastic and clearly condescending. I saw
it first thing in the morning and immediately started to think of how I would reply. For an hour I became consumed with considering witty retorts and blunt words. I would show this person that they were wrong and that I could outdo them with my own sarcasm and condescension.
It was only when I was half way through my morning run (and I do credit exercise with helping massively) that I realised I did not need to respond. That by biting back I was allowing this persons feelings to spread to me and then for me to spread them back. As soon as I decided not to reply a weight was lifted from me. The grump I had been in disappeared and suddenly I was enjoying my day.
The change came the moment I stopped my mind, allowed it to acknowledge my feelings, then let go. This is a mindfulness technique. Instead of blocking thoughts and pushing them to one side or letting them take over our mind totally, we allow them in, look at them without emotion and move on.
Consider the situation or person you are upset at. Will venting your anger change things? Why do you want to do it? When we are angry we usually want to tell them because we want them to feel guilty or sorry. The truth is, if they don’t already feel that way (and they quite possibly do but can’t express it) they won’t change when we try to transfer our feelings. We may get a reaction but it is unlikely to be the one we want. We won’t feel better but we will have spread our anger.
Can we instead examine how we feel and move on? I am far from an expert on mindfulness but a good start is this Getting Started in Mindfulness article. To read more about how I practice my own version of mindfulness visit my piece on How To Take Time To Slow Your Mind.
‘As you spend time practicing mindfulness, you’ll probably find yourself feeling kinder, calmer, and more patient. These shifts in your experience are likely to generate changes in other parts of your life as well’ – mindful.org’
Write things down
It can take time to get to the point where mindfulness can help. When emotions are high a great technique to get thoughts out of your mind is to write things down. You can write down all your hurt, confusion and anger and then walk away from that piece of paper, leaving all those feelings behind.
I know I have some of those pieces of paper around my house. I don’t keep them because I need them, indeed I throw them away if I come across them, they are still there because once written I rarely need to revisit those words. The emotions have been released but I have not transferred them to someone else.
That’s not to say I don’t intend to give them to someone. Nor that it is always bad to tell someone how you feel. We should tell people how we feel, if we can do it in a reasoned way and without expectation that by telling them anything will change. This exercise is not about keeping things to yourself. Writing down your feelings and walking away gives you time to decide if you really want to pass them on.
For me gaining enjoyment from every day is important. When my mind is caught up with negative feelings I am not truly enjoying the day. That is time wasted. Don’t get me wrong I am unhappy sometimes and it takes work to bring positivity back around. Being outdoors and moving always help me with this. How
ever bad my day is, when I see a beautiful sunset I can’t help but stop and remember how glad I am to be alive.
Exercise gives me endorphins, time to think and an appreciation of all I have. I have the freedom to go where I want, when I want and I have the good health to do this. Each time I leave the house for a run, cycle or walk I am cherishing this.
When you feel negative get outside. Do whatever it is you enjoy doing. Achieve something. Give yourself mind space and keep your life moving.
Think about the person behind your anger
That person may be a stranger on the end of a phoneline, someone on social media or someone close to you. Whoever they are you don’t know what they are going through at that moment. If they have hurt and upset you it is probably a result of hurt and upset in their life. Don’t take up the negativity. Don’t make their life harder. Be kind.
How will I know when I have the power in letting go?
You will feel it, believe me. It takes time and it takes effort. It is not a case of putting feelings in a box and it’s not ‘forgiving’ someone. I don’t talk about forgiveness because to me it is patronising. Unless someone asks for it, to tell them you forgive them is just a passive aggressive way of transferring negative feelings.
Next time you are upset try to harness the power in letting go and let me know how you get on. I love to get feedback and hear other peoples methods for bring peacefulness into their lives. You can leave a reply at the bottom of the page or contact me through social media. Let’s all be happier people in a calmer world!
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