A common problem that I often encounter in the behavioral health clinic these days is the difficulty that others have to let go or move beyond emotional blockages to growth. Typically, these are a root cause of the anxiety, stress overload, and depression that generally presents as the problem. Non-clinical populations also exhibit the common problem of letting go, and may never manifest all the symptoms that lead to presentation for treatment. It appears that cultural conditioning, the social mirror, and the myriad of expectations both internal and external contribute to the problem.
Today, there are many, many influences in our lives. Some of them are simply taking up emotional and mental space, and thus need to be cleared, so we can focus on the most important things in our lives.
In the business and organizational world, the problem of letting go, is pervasive. In our driven world steep in high expectations, and underlying demands – both internal to the person and from others, it is sometimes a hidden problem that keeps us hostage to the things that we can simply let go of.
The problem is widespread, but like a computer CPU, we need a little soft reset, and that requires us to delete a few “unnecessary files” in our brains, thoughts, behaviors, and emotions. The work required on a personal level goes well beyond the suggestions here. There is often a journey required to let go of unnecessary issues, feelings, thoughts or behaviors. The items below are a sampling of things that may be key things to “let go”:
1. Personal slights
2. Old mistakes, guilt, shame
3. Unmet expectations
4. Current mistakes (what can we learn from them?)
5. Difficult personalities
6. Relationships – both personal and professional that are dragging us down
7. Excessive spending, poor diet, self-sabotaging habits
8. The past – which does not add positive memories
These of course, are not exhaustive. But you get the point. The concept to remember is that: The items above are preventing positive movement ahead. They are holding us hostage emotionally, behavioral, or through our thinking patterns. They are dulling our senses.
Beginning steps to letting go of the unnecessary can include the following:
1. Identify what needs to be let go – Is it a thought, behavior, or a change in your job?
2. Ask yourself: What impact on my life will this make? Why is it important to let go?
3. Identify your support system. Create an accountability system that can support you through the changes that will occur once something is changed. More difficult things to let go – require more support. Supports can be personal and professional. Perhaps consulting with a trusted colleague.
4. Stressors, personal slights, negative cognitions, require more fortitude. It may require us to stop our negative thoughts, change a self-sabotaging behavior, or simply apologize to someone and rebuild a relationship.
Finally, consider the enormous payoff you will feel and experience when you let go of unnecessary things and situations in your life that weigh you down. Sometimes thoughts about the prospective payoff can be very motivating to make the change. Having deeper values and mission about the why, will help drive you toward how and what of any change you make.