Are you working too hard at letting go?

Uncategorized Dec 01, 2020

Have you ever had something happen where you knew you wanted to let it go, but try as you might, your pesky mind kept bringing it up?

You may have reached deep down into your personal development toolkit and used some strategies, but to no avail. The energy of that something just seemed to linger and bring you down. 

“What’s going on with that?” you might ask yourself. “Shouldn’t I be able to move through this kind of situation by now? Hasn’t all the work I’ve invested in myself made a difference? How annoying!!!”

So why does this kind of thing happen? What’s actually going on?

I’ve got some ideas. Two of them to be precise.

I was driving in the car to the farmers market the other day, listening to my daughter’s playlist with her, and a really powerful song came on, called “It’s a Beautiful Life” by Billy Raffoul. She had introduced me to the song a couple weeks before. Tearjerker! Take a listen here, if you like, and see for yourself. 

This song tugs on my heart strings. It talks about death and not needing to let go because our loved one’s energy continues on as an angel. 

As we sat in the car listening to it (and crying), my mind meandered in and out of the lyrics, pondering the idea of letting go, along with the idea of surrender. 

Here’s an insight I landed upon. (This would be idea #1.)

Think about the physical act of hugging. You can only let go of a hug when you’ve been in the hug in the first place. If you didn’t hug, it’s impossible to let go of the other person, because you didn’t hang on in the first place. That’s logical in the physical sense, right?

Same thing with a handshake… you can’t let go of someone’s hand if you didn’t shake it in the first place.

The body is a great teacher, and I love to turn to it to help explain things we can’t see.

So let’s say that you want to let go of an unpleasant or uncomfortable feeling. It keeps coming up, along with a host of correlated thoughts (which are often self-defeating and judgemental in nature… vexing thoughts). (Vexing is my tribute to Anne of Green Gables. I'm pretty sure I haven't heard the word vexed since reading the books.)

If we use the body’s teaching, it’s going to be impossible to let go until you fully embrace the discomfort by actually feeling the feeling that keeps persisting. You need to embrace that feeling, pay attention to it and love it so that you can then let go. 

And that’s really more about surrender then, isn’t it? It’s not necessarily that we want to let go of something, it’s that we are being guided to surrender fully to the unpleasant feeling, to embrace it. To love it with all our might. To give it a hug on the inside.

Everything you want in life is on the other side of embracing what’s present. When you keep wishing things were different, or you think things should have turned out another way, you stay in resistance to what you really want.

And, as the saying goes: What you resist persists.

So, back to letting go. I don’t know if it’s really even possible to actively let go of something. I think what we actually need to do is surrender, which means to fully embrace what’s present. 

And how do you do that? By going to the body. It’s where all the solutions are. You’ll never solve a problem using the mind that created it; you’ve got to go into the body. You’re body is magical!

In 3 simple steps:

  1. Notice the unpleasant feeling
  2. Ask your body where that unpleasant feeling is most alive (it will likely be in the throat, chest or belly)
  3. Pay attention to the physical sensation that shows up. Bring all your focus to the sensation. Love it with all your might. 

And breathe. 

That’s how you embrace. That’s how you surrender. And then your body and mind no longer have to bring whatever it is to your attention, because you’ve loved it and hugged it on the inside. The letting go happens naturally, without any forcing or striving or pushing through.

As if to confirm this insight, on the way home from the market, another song came on about letting go. Or really, more about not letting go. It’s called Don’t Let Go by Bryan Adams and Sarah McLaughlin. (another beauty; click here to listen)

The lyrics speak about holding on to what’s precious in a moment in time. They also mention the importance of baring your soul, which speaks to the vulnerability it takes to surrender to any emotion whether it’s uplifting or anchoring.

Ultimately, I think we want to hold on to the lessons in any tough situation and let go of the uncomfortable feelings. 

So that’s idea number two. If you haven’t gleaned the lessons from the situation, or really absorbed the goodness, that’s going to get in the way of letting go.

If the moment/experience was awesome, we want to hold on to its beautiful energy, but we also want to take care to not get attached to the moment by living in the past. 

In any situation, it seems that the best course of action is to embrace. That embracing needs to happen in two different ways.

First, embrace what’s there for you by feeling the sensations in your body, even if they’re uncomfortable.  Next, make sure you’ve embraced what was beneficial from the situation, whether it’s a lesson learned, or a really tender moment. Once you’ve done both of these types of embracing, the letting go unfolds effortlessly.

The act of hugging is going heart to heart. When you go heart to heart with yourself, just imagine the goodness that awaits.

Epilogue (yep, a blog with an epilogue)

I drew a card from an oracle deck later the same evening. It literally said Let It Go. The next morning, out of the blue, my kids started singing “Let It Go” from Frozen. Later that day, I did a yoga class and the theme turned out to be… can you guess… Letting Go!!! Clearly we’re on the right track with this post!

With carloads of love and toolkits full of courage,


Self-Care Gangsta, Weeper (especially whilst listening to epic music), Fan of Heart to Heart Hugging