by Angela Kambouris | Featured Contributor
Have you ever been in that moment listening to the grinding replay of what was said or done, looping over and over in your head? Mastering the art of letting go comes from years of practice. One of the greatest tragedies of human behavior is seeing grown men and women who can’t stop playing the mind tape from an event that happened days, weeks, sometimes years ago.
Most of as human beings know what you need to let go of but like a sinking ship, you can’t. More like you won’t. The things that are heavying you are dead weights. As your ship keeps sinking and with all that weight on board, there is no way it’s moving any closer to land.
When you decide to hold on to the past, this prevents you from creating a strong sense of self. Some people struggle to let go of their pain or unpleasant emotions because they think those feelings are part of their identity. When their pain is intertwined with their identity, they may not know who they are without their pain.
People often hold on to pain far beyond its ability to serve them. Mistakes are replayed over and over again, allowing feelings of shame and regret to shape actions in the present. You cling to frustration and worry about the future as if the act of fixation somehow ignites a superpower. Stress is stored in your body, your cells, resulting in health issues and an acceptance that this state of tension is part of the norm.
You hold on to things, situations and circumstances as in some weird way it’s fulfilling. There is comfort in familiarity and justification. Holding on to the past holds you back from achieving your true potential. At times you use the past to justify your actions and your current decision making. When you are immersed in justifying everything, that becomes part of your story and holds you back from the very thing you want.
When the facts are terrible or heartbreaking, it is human nature to blame someone else, not ourselves. You blame others for your misfortune however the energy invested in maintaining the fire of blame is on your own back. You keep the blaze going at your own emotional expense. By moving the story, you have constructed, allows you to move toward a path you want.
Let me share with you how every moment is a chance to let go and here are some ways to get started.
When you are indecisive about letting go of something that has been there for a while, it may feel risky and may be even a little selfish. It’s not any of those things. It’s brave. When you hang on to something that doesn’t feel right any more or that’s hurting you, one of the bravest things you can do is to listen to that. Most often the justifications are habits and stories that you tell yourself. Isn’t time to choose you over the habit?
Stay in your own lane
Leaders often engage in discussion as if they have control over other’s action. When you hear people discuss employee engagement, assumptions are made that the responsibility sits with the leader. Engagement is a choice, not something a leader can do for others. Engagement without accountability creates entitlement. Happiness is a choice and last l checked, everyone is responsible for their own happiness. By cultivating personal accountability, you determine how you live your life.
Owning your decision
Letting go can be empowering and free you of challenges where nothing else has worked. The Sedona Method, a simple method for letting go of any uncomfortable or unwanted feeling, thought or belief, by asking four questions. Allow yourself with an open mind and heart to ask yourself these questions to release unwanted thoughts and feelings out of your mind. Try them on: “Could l welcome what l’m feeling? Could l let it go? Would l let it go? When?” These questions guide your awareness into the experience of letting go.
Change your thinking, change your life.
Most of us carry powerful emotional narratives – the stories we tell ourselves about our undigested pain. People are used to living life as a series of reactions to what’s going on around them, living with tension in their body that is wreaking havoc on health and most don’t know how to be kind and compassionate with ourselves. You need to make space to choose a different response.
Quality questions to step closer to freedom
Eckhart Tolle shares in his book, A New Earth a story of two Zen monks:
Tanzan and Ekido…were walking along a country road that had become extremely muddy after heavy rains. Near a village, they came upon a young woman who was trying to cross the road, but the mud was so deep, it would have ruined the silk kimono she was wearing. Tanzan at once picked her up and carried her to the other side. The monks walked on in silence. Five hours later, as they were approaching the lodging temple, Ekido couldn’t restrain himself any longer. “Why did you carry that girl across the road?” he asked. “We monks are not supposed to do things like that.” “I put the girl down hours ago,” said Tanzan. “Are you still carrying her?”
Precious time and energy is lost as you become the prisoner from burdens of the past. Holding on to what happened or what you think should have happened. One of the greatest quality questions to ask yourself is “For what purpose?” Exploring what underlines your need to feel right, justified or validated. Oprah Winfrey acknowledges that she needed to do some conscious work to change her need of proving she was right. Change was initiated by a single question that put her on the path to freedom – “Do you want to be right or do you want peace?”
Letting go of rules you create
The most precious resources we have as human beings is time and your attention. When you hold on to resentments, you subscribe to lost time. Time you can never get back or make up. Mel Robbins, TEDx speaker, describes one of her favorite ways to protect her most valuable assets is to protect her first hour of the day at all costs. Letting go of the “rules” to respond to emails, log on to computers or look at her phone, as she diverts her attention to the things that most to her, exercising and her children.
Acceptance is the key
No one should settle. We all have a reality we must accept. No matter as much as we want to hold on to a sunset, we can’t retain everything and still lead meaningful lives. Life is fulfilling when you allow yourself to let go, to be in the moment and feel you in the moment. That is only life’s true reality.
Angela Kambouris built a high-level career as an executive in the field of vulnerability and trauma. A global leadership consultant and founder of Evoluccion Consulting Agency, she helps organizations to increase the abilities of their operations, improve the performance of their employees and build a stronger company culture. Angela writes for large publications, coaches, and trains on the power of leadership, executive presence, cultivating high-performing teams, and leading people-centric cultures. Let’s connect!