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Oregon Family Magazine

Letting Go

12/23/2009 ● By Anonymous
‘Letting go’ is a powerful concept, but can sometimes be mistaken for acceptance, weakness, or a loss of control.  Everyone has baggage – even children.  It’s impossible to travel through the phases of life without developing some kind of emotional and/or physical hang-up.  However, it’s how you tend to live your life on a daily basis that will dictate the role the baggage plays, and ultimately the level of happiness attained.

What’s Tying You Up?

First identify what the issue is.  Is it fear, anger, an old relationship, unfinished business, financial stress, self-expectations, grudges, pity or guilt?  This requires some self-exploration. Determine what feelings exist and if those feelings are helpful or harmful, then determine the root of those feelings.  Often, the real issue is not easily identifiable.  For example, suppose you’ve been in a foul mood for the last six months and you’re unbearable to be around.  When you realize that no one wants to be in your presence, you examine the cause of the behavior.  You haven’t been sleeping well for the last six months, so you blame it on a lack of sleep.  You remedy the situation by exercising right after work instead of later in the evening, decorating your bedroom using feng shui, and going to bed earlier.  However, you still cannot sleep well.  After careful examination you trace the cause of the problem to a conversation you overheard at work regarding possible department consolidations sometime down the road.  Thus, the bad mood may have been the result of insomnia, but the insomnia was a direct result of job stress.

Should You Even ‘Let it Go’?

Feelings of anger, fear, guilt and pity are all completely justifiable emotions, but allowing them to rule your everyday existence can be truly counter-productive; not to mention the control it gives the situation or the other party in the issue.  There are so many things that happen that we truly do not have any control over, such as accidents, illness and death.  Grief is a powerful emotion and one that can so easily leave massive baggage.  The concept of ‘letting go’ does not mean forgetting the individual(s), but allowing one to come to peace with the situation, choosing to remember the good times, and providing the ability to move on with life and release the power the grief had over you.

Being upset with a clerk for not packing groceries the right way and arriving home with a dozen scrambled eggs is completely justified; but holding on to that anger for a week accomplishes nothing else but elevating your blood pressure.  In fact, if this is left to fester – at some point it can stop being about the incident and start being about you – your behavior towards others because you’re upset about the clerk, your failure to thrive because your mood is affecting all aspects of your daily existence.  So, while the clerk was remiss in performing the duties of the job, you could end up being remiss by not “letting it go” and having it contaminate the other aspects of your life.  By letting go you can take control over the situation, stop being the victim and come out the victor.  Close your eyes and imagine the levity of mind, body and spirit that results from being free of the bombardment of daily emotional and/or physical baggage.

Is the ‘Let it Go’ Concept Beneficial to Children?

Most adults learn to filter the situations that are designed to pummel self-esteem.  They learn to handle crises and forge ahead despite obstacles - though not necessarily in a ‘let it go’ manner, it is a tool that adults pick up along the way.  These are things children are still learning and frankly, words can and do hurt.  Consider the ads featuring zero-sized models/actors in a society facing an obesity crisis; the same society in which a movie titled “Mean Girls” did well in the box offices, and a society in which Columbine is not an isolated incident.  These are just some of the situations children face.  Imagine how different society, as a whole, would be if at a young age the tools were put in place to lighten the baggage load.  Would a bully be a bully without his/her load?  Would there be as many cliques?  Would children be able to better concentrate on studies instead of the social dynamics of adolescence?

This is the gift parents can provide their children, teaching them to recognize the baggage and giving them the tools to eradicate it.  Letting go teaches children to take responsibility for their actions, and to not allow the actions of others to continually affect their lives.  It can also help children learn how to reduce the stressors that physically and mentally affect so many adults today.   Letting go is a healing, up-lifting and forgiving place to go, which can also provide children with a stronger sense of self-esteem. However, there’s a fine line between letting go and giving someone permission to take advantage.  Parents will have to teach their children to understand the difference.

How to ‘Let it Go’…

Letting Go is about forgiveness, acceptance, and releasing the hold the situation has over your overall presence.  Letting Go means understanding that the past cannot be changed, but it can negatively impact the future if you allow it to.  Letting Go is about changing the path you are currently walking – to find a path that will yield a better future or result.  Letting it go will be different things for each person – waiting out a situation but not stressing about it while the wait occurs, forgiving someone from high school for a major embarrassment, dating again after a painful break-up, or resolving to find some distance from a toxic situation.  It’s not easy, but well worth the effort for the outcome.

Is it possible to completely remove all baggage from one’s life?  No, not if you choose to be a participating member of society.  Things happen on a daily basis.  Letting Go is about choosing to handle what is thrown at you rather than collapsing under the load.  It’s a conscious decision.  A choice.  Learning the art of ‘letting go’ take practice and patience.  Learning to ‘let go’ is a process.  It takes patience and a great deal of practice to achieve, but can be one of life’s most empowering tools that will serve you for a lifetime.