How often do people tell you to “Let It Go” when you’re upset about something? In many cases that is like saying “Don’t think of a pink elephant.” It’s almost impossible.
Here’s a more effective approach.
How to ‘Let It Be’ When You’re Upset
Something has you upset. You can’t get it off your mind. You’re troubled and you struggle with this ball of bad feelings. What’s the advice we frequently hear from others and even from ourselves? “Just let it go.” Well, that’s easier said than done.
“Just let it go” implies a sort of active forgetting. You’ve probably tried the experiment, “Don’t think of a pink elephant.” Once you have that in your mind, you simply can’t forget it. The same is true with grief, anger, or other strong distressing emotions.
Let It Be
Another approach to consider is to “Let It Be.” What does this mean? I’m sure this can mean different things to different people, but what it means to me is to stay present with your uncomfortable feelings instead of running or hiding from them. Try to really feel those difficult emotions. Observe them. Don’t fear them or seek to run from them. Instead endeavor to live with them and learn from them, knowing that the time you spend doing this will help to heal you. When you do this with serenity, as much as you can muster, you will discover your strength and over time you will notice the bad feelings start to soften and melt.
Take Your Time
Depending on the circumstances, this can take quite a bit of time or it can work in an afternoon. The main thing to remember is not to rush it. Have faith and know that things will get better. Be patient with yourself and with the process.
Guide to Being Present
As you work to be present with your challenging emotions, here are some questions and affirmations to guide you:
- What am I really feeling right now? What is the essence of this feeling?
- As an observer, this is interesting.
- How would an outsider describe this?
- Why do I want to run away from this?
- Why does this feel bad?
- What can I do to change my perspective of this?
- What can I learn from these feelings?
- I can handle this.
- I can be at peace with this emotion passing through me.
- I’m not running from this and I’m also not attached to it.
- There is something to be learned from this.
- There is purpose in this. What is that purpose?
- I know the purpose will eventually be revealed.
- I am being strengthened by this.
- I am strong.
- It’s OK to feel this way. I don’t need to run away.
- This will morph into goodness in the long run.
Examples of When “Let It Be” Might Be Helpful
- Quitting smoking or other addictive substance
- Feeling anger after a conflict or fight
- Feeling grief after losing a loved one
“Let It Be” means being present with your difficult feelings, but it also means living life. A big part of healing is to live life, to be active, and engaged. If you are in the throes of grief, obviously you should take things slowly. Listen to what your body and soul tell you to do. But, do try, in small ways at first, to be active. This is not to drown out your feelings, but rather to give you the physical strength and the mental perspective that will help you be present with your feelings and heal. It’s a balance. Take the time to analyze and also take the time to live life. Wishing you peace.
How do you deal with difficult emotions? Please share in the comments!
This article was originally posted over at ZenHabits.net but it is no longer there.
ZenHabits Book Review: Zen to Done
While you’re there check out Leo Babauta’s brand new ebook: Zen To Done. The book give you a “simple system to get you more organized and productive and keep your life saner and less stressed, with a set of habits. ” I’ll be writing a review of this great book shortly.
Zen To Done teaches you:
- The key habits needed to be productive, organized, and simplified â€¦ and no more than that.
- How to implement these key habits â€¦ tips on forming a habit.
- How to organize these habits into a simple system that will keep everything in your life in its place.
- How to simplify what you need to do.
- Minimal ZTD. Also includes an even simpler version called Minimal ZTD.
How do you handle life’s disappointments and difficulties? All comments big and small are very welcomed!
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